Ever since we brought the cows home, they've spent countless hours destroying the seven or eight (or more?) apple trees they have access to in the paddock and pasture. We've watched them strip leaves from lower branches, eat the tiny baby apples, then graduate to ripping entire limbs out of trees, stretching their necks to get things just out of reach overhead, and, lately, sticking horns into the thicket of branches and shaking like maniacs to get ripening apples out. If you'll notice in the photo of Sheila in the sidebar of this blog, there's a group of trees in the background behind her. These trees used to be leafed and lush to the ground...now many look a bit like they've hiked their skirts up above their knees. The one in the paddock has been turned into a palm tree.
Our call of, "Aw, how cute, they like apples" turned into "Aw, how funny, look how they reach for the leaves!" turned into "Good God! Can they do ANY more damage to that poor tree?" We'd taste-tested samples from each of the trees multiple times throughout the season and found them to be mushy or bland or downright awful (like the one Paul told me to try last weekend...I would have been better off sucking a lemon). We couldn't figure out what the big deal was...must be apple novelty or something.
Sunday evening we were sitting on our hineys watching TV and looking out the window as Sheila attempted to destroy another tree. Just then, a huge flock of crows descended on three of the trees and proceeded to peck the apples. Paul said, "I'd rather let the cows have all the apples than give any to the crows," hopped up and ran outside to shake the trees. The cows thought this was the _best_thing_ever and came running over. Sheila even looked a little manic at the whole thing. (Apples, raining from the sky!)
Some of these apples looked really ripe and pretty, so soon we decided to try one before shaking a tree. Turns out some of the apples just plain suck: mealy, dry nasty things, or still not close to ripe but pretty. Those we left to the cows.
We struck it rich on a couple of trees, though, with fruits resembling small Braeburns or Cameos, bright red and shiny with some apple green patches on their skins, some with pinkish streaks. These turn out to be quite tasty! Lacking a bucket, we picked them and I carried them in my shirt, apron-style, and ended up with enough to fill a big purple serving bowl.
I brought two to work with me and just bit into one...it's delicious! Massively crisp, sweet but not cloying, almost perfume-y in flavor. I wish I had my camera to show off this little guy...it's 2 inches tall by about 2.5 inches in diameter, perfectly apple-shaped, with a bit of green near the stem. Yum! What we don't eat in the next couple of days I'll attempt to turn into apple sauce or apple pie filling, maybe.
And who knows...maybe the tree-shaking and destroying efforts of the cows have made these apples better, because I sampled the yet untouched apple trees in our front pasture, which the cows have never come close to, and they are all horrid! The crows can have 'em.