Fall 2016 has started on a very sad note with the passing of my husband and orchard co-owner, Steve. We will have a difficult time adjusting to this loss, but our faith in God and keeping busy at the orchard will help us ease through this difficult time. We ask for your understanding as we work through our first harvest season without Steve.
Family continues to be the central part of my life and my greatest blessing. My three daughters, Lindsay, Stephanie and Brittany are all doing well and the grandbabies are keeping me on my toes! Lindsay and her husband, Berk Boehne, live in nearby Shabbona where Berk farms, raises hogs, and has a trucking business. Lindsay and Berk have given me two adorable granddaughters, Avery, age 9 and Madison, age 6. They are the "apples" of my eye. Lindsay helps Berk with their farming and trucking operations and helps at the orchard. Stephanie and her husband, Nate Lamoreux, live in Lanark, IL where Nate farms and raises cattle. Steph and Nate have two active, little guys, Lleyton, age 5 and Hawken (Grandpa Hawken's little namesake), age 3. Lleyton started kindergarten this year and Hawken started preschool. Where does the time go!? Stephanie teaches 7th and 8th grade in Lanark and tries to keep up with her boys. Brittany and her husband, Shane Richey, have moved into the farmhouse at the orchard. Brittany is a mammographer at Kishwaukee Hospital and works with me at the orchard. Shane started working full time at the orchard this spring and is doing a great job as outside orchard manager. Yes, I am truly blessed.
Max, our black lab, is still around, but spending more time relaxing in the house in his old age. You may remember that last year we adopted Shelby, a mixed breed puppy from Tails Humane Society to serve as our "orchard dog". Shelby has grown into a little 26 pound spit-fire who is more suited to life as a house dog. Enter Jojo, a shepherd mix adopted from Tails Humane Society this spring. Jojo is well suited to life at the orchard and loves nothing better than to sit in front of the shop and watch over her domain. You may see her out and about a little this fall, but she is definitely still in puppy training mode!
HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED
In 1965, my dad, Hawken Askelson, decided to plant a few apple trees as a hobby. Dad had retired from farming, but still had a strong desire to be involved in agriculture at some level. He decided that planting a few apple trees to provide fruit for our family would be a great idea. I think my mom, Edna, agreed just because she thought it would keep him busy. Dad got a little carried away and planted more trees than we had family.
Within a few years, the trees that Dad had planted were producing more apples than our family could possibly use. Not being ones to let anything go to waste, Mom and Dad decided to set up shop in their garage and sell apples in grocery bags to friends and neighbors. That was all the incentive Dad needed to turn his hobby into a business. He planted more trees and by 1977 was growing enough apples to buy a cider press and officially open up for business. That year, my husband, Steve, and I joined my parents in the business.
Dad retired from the orchard in 1992 and Steve and I took over the full time operation of the orchard. Dad passed away in 2000 and Mom passed away in 2011, but their commitment to provide our customers with quality products and a chance to spend time on the farm and create some great family memories continues. I'm sure you'll agree, we've come a long way since we sold our first grocery bag of apples out of the garage!