So, continuing Hobart-ward, Ho!
To County Line Orchard
we went, passing Johnson's Strawberry Farm
on the way. County Line is not for the agripurist, but our weekday stop there was sufficient to scratch that apple itch without too much distraction.
They have jumped on possibly every bandwagon available to a U-Pick farm, and include a corn maze, beehives, a petting zoo, a homemade dinosaur, and a giant gift shop/cafe/bakery/candy store. Next year's plans include a banquet hall, where they will host weddings and other large events, now relegated to the picnic area next to the orchard.
That being said, the staff were pleasant, and the fees (relatively) low (Word to the wise - the petting zoo requires a paying adult accompany all kids.) The apple orchard (the wagon ride is gravy, you can walk there from the entrance) is well-separated from the other activities, and the pumkin patch is on the far side of that. Both are huge, and have quite a number of varieties, including the Japanese ones I love so much, two of which are ripe right now: Jubilee Fuji and Shizuka - both excellent.
The orchards themselves are groaning with apples, and are pleasantly unkempt. It's easy to lose yourself in them, especially if you head towards the ends of the rows where the ripest apples lie. Fortunately, though the trees are mature, there are plenty of apples within kid-reach, and they encourage you to taste before you take them home.
FWIW, Honeycrisps are picked out, and Suncrisps didn't seem ripe yet. The pumkins are a large field just behind the apple orchards, just lying there - if you've loaded up on apples, you can hitch a ride on the wagons that go by every 15 minutes or so; or you can drag your own wagon there.
The petting zoo is quite cute, if a little twee: for instance, the three piglets were, indeed, sleeping it off in the brick house:
and the other animals seemed well-cared-for and happy (though the mama horse nips a bit, and who can blame her when she's nursing a baby.) Sparky particularly loved the petting zoo, I think especially since the animals were behind a fence.
The "Barn Store" has all the accoutrements you'd expect, bakery, caramel apples, cider doughnuts and a little cafe with push-button "cappucino." The farm's local honey and honeycomb is also available for sale there. We got out of the place for about $50, including 15lbs of apples, 3 doughnuts, a cob of popcorn, and a jar of honeycomb.
The staff were particularly helpful - the guy at the gate asked what kinds of apples we wanted, and then asked what we would be using them for - and chatted about the Japanese varieties knowledgeably. All in all, I'd go back.Whistle-stop tour continues here.