farm life

Pin in Time April 2019

Brief Insights in the the life of the Farm-Cidery-Cider House, at this moment

By Melissa Madden, owner/doer of what is needed

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Kite & String Cellar Update

2018 Vintage: filtering, final blending, bottling for secondary fermentation

Above, you see Rick heroically posing during our Funkhouse filtration. We’re filtering to build cuvees for our final bottling of champagne method ciders- sending nearly 4,500 gallons into secondary fermentation between March 13 and April 19. We won’t see those ciders again until we disgorge starting in the summer and fall. These ciders are only a part of our K&S catalog, but represent the most labor- and time- intensive blends.

Soon to be released are beloved Rose and newly re-visioned Baldwin (sparkling, dry with that strange sense of unfermentable sugar). Starting with the May Cider Club, we’ll have a limited release Pet Nat called ‘Greenman’- an ode to our designer Q Cassetti and FLX orchard advocate Peter Hoover.

For once, this year Jimmy may see some daylight in the Spring. He and Garrett reworked the cidery schedule to push bottling earlier and get Jimmy out during our crazy crunch time in May.

Coming soon… thoughts on how the 2018 vintage has shaped up. We’ve almost got a read on that!

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Cider House happenings

Busy times! This part of our business has yet to cease with surprises. As farmers, Garrett and I knew about to long days and big goals. The work of the Tasting Room has been to meld the labor of farming with the delicacy of service.

One way we celebrate this is daily- you come visit and we do our thing. Another way is more seasonally driven… for example! Coming up on Friday, April 5 we’ll have our annual cheese+cider collaboration dinner featuring Lively Run Dairy, our K&S cider and a menu to inspire from The Cheese Course (Rachel Freier and Laura Sutter).

Coming right along we continue Sunday brunches and will open up reservations for Mother’s Day Brunch by mid April.

Asparaganza is Saturday, May 26th, a cap off to the “slower” season and a welcome to the summer chaos.

We’ll be here, the releases will come out and we’ll serve ‘em. We’d love to have you and your family for lunch, brunch, tastings and flights, as ever.


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Good Life Farm, progress

Presprouting, pruning, prepping, praying

It’s time! Our first control sprays go on the peaches- in that ever present battle for dominance over the moisture-soaked NE paradigm of fungal diseases. Last year, dark and wet as the fall was, we had a glorious peach crop and we’re planning to open it to UPick again. It starts now.

Also in the good news pile- we’ve scaled back up on the ginger side. We’ve got 400# of ginger mothers presprouting in a warm, dark cabinet. They’re destined for high tunnel planting sometime in May and for all kinds of ginger-based goodness by late fall.

It looks to be a year for focus on the perennials and some specialty veg. We’re adding strawberries for 2020 UPick, cleaning up past mistakes (see below) and preparing for that turn into our 11 year. Here, we can outgrow our worn out assumptions and take the farm into a healthy adolescence. Wish us luck, and come to the harvest when it comes!

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Welcoming three new folks to our team!

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Welcome Hannah, Stephanie and Rick!

Two Tasting Room Managers and our Production Assistant are on board

JOBS HERE NOW: Accepting rolling applications for the Tasting Room staff

Over the past week, we’ve got a new team forming. All three of our new staff represent restructuring for 2019 and our excitement for the future. When we tell the story of our farm-cidery-tasting room, it often revolves around the slow burn from 2008-2014 when we lived off-grid on 300W of power, farmed with the horses and worked on a long arc relying on trees that only bear in year 10 or 15. Between 2013-2015 we started both the Kite & String Cidery (née Good Life Cider) and the Finger Lakes Cider House. In that time we went from farming to farming, cider making, hospitality and our tiny cafe. It took us from 1.5 employees to up to 20 in our busiest season. Garrett and I have been rapidly adjusting in order to keep our eyes on that long arc and our primary values. We are grateful to have our current loyal team and to welcome new members to help us manage the opportunities we’ve created and are blessed by.

Hannah and Stephanie will be sharing management of the Tasting Room, with Michelle here to guide them through the transition. Both Hannah and Stephanie have additional duties intended to help us grow our ability to do private events, high brow private tastings, paired lunches and priortize our growing Cider Club. They come to us with significant experience and commitment to the Finger Lakes wine scene and we’re honored to have them aboard. Over the next few weeks you’ll find each of them on the Tasting Room floor any day of the week. Please help us welcome them!

Rick has joined us to support that funny combination of cidery and farm. Each year we find ourselves stretching to meet the needs of each, and often the busy times for both overlap. We hired Rick with great excitement because of his background in land management. We’re excited to have further support from an inspired team to keep our vintages top notch and our trees better cared for. You’ll see Rick out and about, and please say hello!

Reminder! We are still hiring for the Tasting Room, weekends especially.

APPLY HERE

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Leo and Polly find a new home

On Saturday, February 23rd, 2019, my two closest farming partners, Leo and Polly (Percheron team) left for a new life. I cried when they left, but I knew it was the right thing; I was lagging in my craft, and I wasn’t giving them the work they needed. I will miss them with every hour.

I met Leo and Polly’s new owner, Keith Marquis, only a few weeks ago, but have known of him since I first worked  at Cayuga Pure Organics, 13 years ago. Erik Smith, one of my most important farming mentors, leased land from Keith’s father, Kermit, who raised and farmed with Belgians. That farm is long in new hands, but Keith is starting over with a horse powered dairy. He knows horses, and he has a fine pair that will work alongside Leo and Polly. As sad as I am to see them go, I am relieved to see them in such good hands, and I am moved and grateful for the enduring care of one farmer for another.

I want to know that small farms are just this. We help each other as we can, with not a string attached. We see each other’s efforts, and we are joyous in successes and forgiving in failures, knowing first hand how unpredictable farming can be. We help each other, sometimes reaching across decades. I am grateful to feel this hope and support from the farming world, despite, or maybe because of, my current sense of loss.

And there is more good news:  Leo and Polly will be back for Asparaganza in late May, and if luck is with me, perhaps I’ll take their lines again.

I am so grateful for your kindness. Thank you.

Love,

Melissa

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