Many hands make light work at cider press (gallery)

Crisp apples, leaves, cold air — it’s the smell of fall. Six girls in long blue dresses and braids have their arms deep in a vat of water washing honeycrisps, liberties, Granny Smiths and pink ladies before handing them off to the boys.

The boys, all in muddy Wranglers, are manning the grinder and presser. The Smucker and McConnaughey families of Arlington, each with six children all under the age of 11, have come to Fruitful Farm in Oso for the day to make apple cider.

Owned by the Hall family for the past 10 years, Fruitful Farm runs a fruit and vegetable stand just off Highway 530 toward Darrington. Every year the family makes apple cider on their handmade press. This time, mom Carla Hall, and her son and daughter, Aaron, 20, and Sarah, 18, have invited the two families to help.

The kids and dads drop fruit into the grinder chute, taking turns using all of their strength to wind the press crank, as the moms look on, holding the little ones and chatting.

The cider is a mixture of several varieties, completely organic, with no additives, and is amazingly sweet. It took only two hours for the group to press about 35 gallons of cider, which went into the freezer to be enjoyed all year.

After the apples have been turned into juice, Sarah Hall leads the pack of kids around the farm like puppies, feeding the leftovers to cows, ducks and chickens. Not a drop is wasted.

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