Enthusiastic Cider Pressing deemed a Success

We had a successful cider pressing weekend recently at Barlow’s Mill.  Although the production was minuscule in comparison to Herman Barlow’s runs of 60 years ago, our present equipment performed nicely.

The 7 varieties of apples yielded cider ranging from nutty, astringent and tannic to sweet and aromatic.  Care was taken to achieve a blend of several varieties at all times.
Some varieties were definitely juicier than others.  Upon estimating a slight shortage in apples for finishing up, one intrepid friend and her son went out into the snow-dusted orchard to shake out several more bushels! We estimate that yield ranged from 1 ¼ to well over 2 gallons per bushel. A little more might have been possible, but we tried not to crank the presses’ pressure excessively.  Even so, there was a “blow out” on the oldest press which will require some major repairs.  Well, she is over a hundred years old, so these things are to be expected.

We produced about 50 gallons of cider in two 8 hour shifts, including cleaning the presses and press room.  Our compost bins are now full of pressed apple pomace which will be transformed by worms and other little critters into a soil amendment to be spread next year.  Many jugs in the community are now bubbling merrily away in a fit of fermentation.  Cider was the national drink in the days before refrigeration. 

It's Cider Time at Barlow's Mill

IT’S  CIDER  TIME  AT  BARLOW’S  MILL

We have 3 old presses in our press-room.  This one is a family heirloom perhaps 130 years old.  The other two are youngsters of approximately 80 and 30.
 

Our orchard was planted with Cider in mind.  Note the interesting blend of apples on display here:

Wolf River and Granny Smith are missing from this line up.  Wolf River is a huge Red, somewhat bland to my taste, while Granny is small, green and very tart.  Roxbury Russet, by the way, is “America’s First Apple” appearing near Boston in the early 1600’s.  A great keeper and cider apple, Thomas Jefferson planted this cultivar at his Monticello Orchard around 1778.  Later, scions were shipped around the Cape of Good Hope for propagation in the Napa Valley Orchards where it was popular until refrigerated cold storage was developed in the early 1930’s.  Roxbury Russet reigned for 300 years!
 

Our trees’ biennial nature and prudent pruning has resulted in some heavy yields this year.

 

 

Barlow's Mill Part of Heritage House and Garden Tour

We are happy to be included in the Fredonia Opera House Heritage House and Garden Tour on July 11 from 10 am to 4 pm. We are busy sprucing up our old farm that has been owned by the Barlow family for four generations.

The interesting thing about sprucing up is that one wants to make it look a little better, but not to subtract all the history...painting the porch and remembering the time when the floor was so rotten that a child's leg went through; weeding the flower garden, deheading the peonies and remembering grandma who planted them; or walking past the woodpile sitting on a very old caved-in concrete pad and remembering that was once the floor of grandpa's shed where he kept his big old flatbed truck.

There has been a century of  ideas and "improvements". Mary, the first owner's wife, thought a bay window on the west side of the house would be a nice touch. Hermon, her son, changed the layout of the vineyards and built a big press for squeezing grapes and apples. Antoinette, his daughter and her husband Frank, remade the press house, Barlow's Mill, into a year-round usable space. Kay, their daughter and her husband Jim, obtained a NYS barn grant that restored the big barn and made it usable again. These two have devoted years to maintaining and upgrading the Barlow family property on West Main Street in Fredonia and are the hosts for the Heritage House and Garden Tour on July 11. 

Here is a link to more information about the Heritage House and Garden Tour.http://fredopera.org/home/fredonia_house_garden_tour

 

Progress

With technology forever changing and improving, it is crucial that our website works up to date with societies norms. Mostly everyone uses a smartphone nowadays; our website is now device-friendly to make browsing easier. As technology improves, we expect to do things instantly. We are very happy with how SquareSpace has allowed us to make this easier and better for our customers.

The best part is, our customers have noticed how easy it can be. And because of that, the enrollment in our classes have increased. More and more customers have been taking advantage of our online store and registering that way. In fact, for the winter semester a total of 15 families registered online, and for the spring semester that number jumped to 26! We hope that it keeps increasing the way it does. But we are not alone on this. 

In a previous blog post, I mentioned Main Street Host. With the help of their business we are able to see what users are searching for most by receiving monthly reports. Being in a small town does have its disadvantages though. Everyone isn't always looking for a venue for their events or a music class. The key to marketing in such a small town is word-of-mouth communication. We believe that is working because just this spring there have been 20 new families join our music classes!

We're hoping our business continues to bloom in the next few months and can't wait to see what's in store next for Barlow's Mill.

 

How We Got Where We Are

Running a small business in a small town isn't always an easy task. Getting the word out about our venue and what we can do has proven to be a challenge. However the use of the internet has helped us greatly.

We work with a company located in Buffalo called Main Street Host. They help us get our web page on the first search page on Google through the use of search engine optimization (SEOs). They work behind the scenes, finding what key words our customers are searching for the most.

They also use Google algorithms. An algorithm is a set of rules that a computer follows in calculations or problem-solving operations. In our case, Main Street Host uses PageRank, a Google Algorithm, to see where our page falls on Google search.

A New Solar Record!


Our Solar Array produced 40,387 watt hours on March 29, 2015.  The snow has slid off, and the cool, crisp, clear conditions are perfect for capturing those photons. Each of our 250 watt solar panels produced nearly 1700 watt hours on that day!   Our house uses about 17,000 watt hours per day ( 17kWh), so on Palm Sunday we got enough for 2 and 1/3 days!  This excess is "banked" via net metering with our electric utility for our use whenever our solar array is not producing adequately ( night ).

On a perfectly clear, sunny day in Fredonia our PV panels are hit by enough Solar Radiation to produce 100 watts per square foot (if they were 100 % efficient).  Being  typical solar panels rated at around 15% efficiency , they produce about 15 watts per square foot of panel.  Barlow's Mill has 24 solar panels on it's roof with a potential to produce at 6000 watt capacity .

Meet our Web Marketing Intern!

Hey everyone! I'm Christine and I'm the web marketing intern here at Barlow's Mill. I've been working here since September and end my internship in May when I graduate. I'm a senior at SUNY Fredonia with a major in business administration with a concentration in marketing. I'm honored and privelaged to have had the opportunity to acquire this internship; I feel like it has helped me grow in my major and to really figure out what I want to do after I graduate.

What have I done?

When I first met with Kay in the very beginning of the year, she had asked me to help get the word out about the music classes that her business offers. She was also looking for ways to use the venue as a rental facility for smaller gatherings.

Immediately I thought social media. With technology being such a huge impact in everyone's daily life, I thought Facebook would be a great way to show what events and other activities go on at Barlow's Mill. So a Facebook page was made, and we try to update as much as we can.

Secondly we worked with Google Ads to create an ad for music classes. Having never worked with Google Ads before, this was a learning experience for us both. A Google Ad was published for music classes in the Fredonia, Silver Creek, Dunkirk area. It wasn't the best success, but I hope that it worked a little bit.

Next we focused a lot on the actual website. With Thrifty Reader no longer being a part of Barlow's Mill, it gave us more room to talk about music classes and rentals. We updated the home page to include rentals. We made a rental page and organized all our pages by what they are. We offer musical birthday parties for children involved in the music classes here. A big emphasis was put on uploading pictures to the website to give viewers an example of how Barlow's Mill can be used.

Lastly, Barlow's Mill is now exclusively catered with The Catering Company. No matter what type of get together you are planning, you have the option to have it catered. This is very exciting because we hope that it will get the word out about rentals and the Mill.

This internship has been such a learning experience for me and I am so glad that I was given this opportunity. I am eager to see this work we've done pay off by having more rentals and more enrollment in the music classes.