We’ve been coming to McCallum’s Orchard for many, many years, even before the girls were born! We use to wait for that cool weekend morning and head out to get those amazing apple cinnamon donuts? still hot from the oil and as messy as it gets! We’d grab our jug of fresh cider and tiny plastic cups along with our bags for apples and head back out to the truck to drive out to the orchard and decide what apples looked appealing.
One of the things we liked most about McCullam’s was the lack of unnecessary frills. They always stayed focused on the true reason for the visit, apples! Now that I’m a mom I respect that choice more than ever. I want to keep the tradition of apple picking without the distractions of extra activities. Horse rides, petting farms, gifts shops, money, money, money?! I like a lot of those activities just not in combination with an apple orchard or at least not having to feel like the worst mom in the world because you tell your kids “We’re just here for the apples and donuts.” bit. Going broke is not part of the plan! Last year we ventured to a new orchard which did have all of those extra things and we had a great time. We especially loved the beautiful orchard and very detailed signs (they not only told you what the apple was but what it was similar to and what it was good for!). But holy smokes did it cost a lot (and I did plan for broke lol)! You can read more about that adventure here!
So why did we change? Well at that time McCullam’s was going through a pretty rough patch, literally. We had two years in a row with very few apples for the picking and quality that left something to be desired. The trees were not groomed so getting to them required acrobatic skills through the jungle of pickers. The very last year we went just for the donuts and cider, unfortunately, that too had changed and was not what we hoped. No fresh donuts to be found and the store, let’s just say it could have used a good cleaning.
New life for McCallum’s?
I knew of the new ownership (gotta love Facebook stalking?) but expected it to take a couple years to get the orchard back to its good ole self again. The recent word around town (if I was hearing had me super excited to give them another shot! The biggest word was well-groomed trees and no more pickers, the only arm twisting I needed! From that point on I watched the weekend weather like a hawk for the right weekend morning (remember it has to be a cool September morning on a weekend and when we have nothing else going on, not hard right?). Well, this past weekend passed the test! Prime apple season, a cool morning, and amazingly we had nothing going on that couldn’t wait!
Finally, we’re back to our old (apple pickin) stomping ground! We drove up to the same barn style building I remember and the rustic little playground (spruced up now with a bright red “apple” feel) with some random farm animals for the kids to see.
Donuts & Cider
Mmmmmm the sweet cinnamon aroma that hits your nose and makes your mouth water as soon as you walk through the door means… FRESH donuts?! I have yet to find any other apple cinnamon donut that compares. I’ll drive here just for these any season! Time to grab the cider and cups so we can enjoy our treat.
One thing worth noting is the lack of friendly staff. They were helpful if you asked but definitely not excited to be there. Smiles were far and few between.
We checked out and got our bags for U-pick apples, which were quite expensive but I didn’t mind for a well-kept orchard. We had to ask all the question: What was available to pick? (she said there are signs in the orchard, not really an answer to the question) How do we get back to the picking area? (she said you wait for the wagon or walk. WHAT?? You can’t drive anymore? Nope ☹). As we are walking out the door, my hubby turns back and asks where do we wait for the wagon? She decides now is a good time to tell us its an additional charge to ride it. Wow, this is not going very smooth.
So we usually take our donuts and cider out to the orchard with us to enjoy sitting on the tailgate of the truck but that was not going to work out this year. We found a picnic table by the playground area and enjoyed our treats while the kids ran around for a bit. The cider and donuts were delish!
We ended up paying the extra for the wagon ride out to the orchard, it was just easier because we weren’t prepared to go hiking through the tall grass. It was a cute horse-drawn wagon and the kids did like it. All I can say is, more unhappy workers. Not social, no smiles, and the only information given was when you specifically asked. No problem though, it’s just a ride to the orchard even though it was a bit expensive though.
Finally made it to the apples???! The main trail was decently groomed so I was pretty excited. Though we had to go on a hunt to see what apple choices we had (not one person could tell us what was ready to pick). Macintosh was what I really wanted and am happy to report they had a ton! Now to get to them. I’m gonna just leave this here…The picker problem is very much NOT gone or even under-control. Super disappointed because I can see all of the beautiful Mac’s but if I want them boy am I gonna have to work for them! The girls couldn’t get many themselves which really bummed them out but daddy did lift them up into the trees to make up a bit:) We couldn’t go home empty-handed, we had pies to make! You can check out our delicious Dutch Apple Pie recipe here!
What do you do when you have no idea what kind of apples you are offering? Apparently, you name them “Whatcha McCallums” ?.
I want to love them again, I REALLY do! But, it’s just too soon. I personally would have rather they not spread the word that everything was revamped and renovated. At best it was refreshed and that is totally fine! Everyone knows change takes time and money. Having friendly knowledgeable staff would have gone a long way in my book as well! Setting the customers expectations too high (and prices) can backfire and in our case has. Will we try again? Probably, but I doubt it will be next year. I will be keeping an eye and ear out in hopes of returning in the future. But for now, it’s thumbs down, unfortunately.
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