We spent most of today celebrating Sarah’s birthday. First up was a trip to Wolfe Orchard for the best apples around and a tour of their 40-acre spread. They’re situated atop the Cerro Gordo Wisconsinan end moraine in Piatt County, Illinois, which makes for good apple growing—you don’t want your apple trees in a low-lying area that collects colder air. From the top of the moraine you can see 16 miles across the glacier-flattened prairie to downtown Champaign.
We sampled all their varieties of apples and I fell for the flavor explosion of Jonagold. We bought a peck of those, a peck of other eating varieties, and a peck of baking apples. We’re planning another trip next week with Lisa’s parents to share the place with them and buy a batch of apples for pies and applesauce.
After finishing our apple business the owner took the kids on a tour of their chicken barn. The kids noted the barn’s distinctive smell and delighted in the different varieties of chickens. We stepped out of the barn and she took a moment to show us what 40 acres looks like, pointing out the boundaries and what they’ve done with the land. That’s plenty of land to support a family and grow extra produce or livestock for income. It made me wish we were 20 years younger with the gumption to give it a go.
As we walked back to the apple barn we learned that she’s a retired professor of nursing, and we talked about homeschooling and how the local community college can help us as homeschoolers.
Then it was off to Allerton Park to try to track down three letterboxing caches, none of which could be found. The kids enjoyed the grounds of the park, the former estate of the Chicago eccentric and banking heir Robert Allerton. Nine-year-old John has noted many times in many ways that “all the statues are naked.” After a couple of hikes we enjoyed a picnic lunch at the enormous bronze statue of Apollo, the “Sun Singer“.
Home, then, to get the 3 younger kids ready for CCD class, and after an invigorating supper of Italian beef sandwiches Sarah and I worked on her first baking project as a teenager: two luscious apple pies.