Recently, my family and I were sitting around the table, drinking coffee and conversing about this, that and the other. Somehow, the subject turned to cider (the alcoholic juice of apple). I went on to say how important cider was for farmers, in my childhood days. This was in the ‘West Country’ area of England.
During harvest time, farmers would employ casual workers. Not many of these men would have been interested unless the farmers had a constant supply of cider in the harvest fields. Then I told them about how cider was made. Most farmers in those day, had at least one orchard of apple trees. After the ’eating and cooking’ apples had been carefully picked from the trees, all the remainder would be used for cider.
My father also had an orchard of over seventy trees. In late autumn, we transported our sacks of apples to an uncle’s farm, and there the apples were crushed and the juice taken for further treatment, to finally become cider. This was an exciting, adventures time for the kids. Dark evenings, lit by oil lanterns, and every process carried out by hand operated farm equipment, and listening to the typical farm talk of the workers. We children would hide behind the cider-press and suck up the juice, through pieces of straw, while the man enjoyed the plentiful supply of mature cider from the previous year. During the following Christmas festivities, the ladies drank the new cider, which was a little sweeter, and less alcoholic, than the last year’s product, which the men drank. Children of this modern high-tech age would probably not find the foregoing very exciting, or adventurous.
But remember, that was all before the days of TV, mobile phones, i-pads, etc. and cider making was only one of many other non-high-tech enjoyment. As I said, at the beginning, our conversation was part of our coffee break. What a pity that it wasn’t over a glass of genuine, farmhouse cider, from the ‘old’ days.
casual workers - not fully employed
orchard - an area of fruit trees
foregoing - going before