A Pressing Engagement

Thatcher Fields has restored the water-powered cider mill and begun annual pressings.Original owner Herb Ogden used to commute to the mill, which was several miles away by horse and buggy. In 1956 he decided to move it to his property.It is powered by a 12-foot diameter waterwheel and was a grist mill as well as a cider press.The wheel holds approximately one and a half tons of water.Water is delivered to the wheel from a pond that is at an elevation 10 feet higher than the top of the waterwheel, supplying the pressure to get the water above the wheel.Local farmers brought their apples to be weighed before pressing.On a sunny October day, apples are delivered.Apples are sorted and loaded into a trough to the press.The remains after the sweet juice has been removed.The press, which produced 27,000 gallons a year between the 1940s and the 1980s.Herb Ogden apparently had a New England sense of humor.More apples arrive from the Fields' neighbors.The mill offered various types of cider.The rules offered loopholes.Thatcher (left) and Jamie Fields inspect apples as they arrive.Much of the mill is exactly as it was 60 years ago.The family dog, Harry, looks on.Jamie Fields offers some fresh cider to the family Pug.Daughter, Emily Fields comforts the Pug after his cider-tasting experience.The 233-acre farm has horses, chickens, and guinea fowl.Neighbor Roy Coley helps with the once-a-year event.Virtually all the roads are dirt in this area of Vermont.A neighborhood Corgi helps as well.A tradition is offering visitors some juicy venison to go with their cider.Visitors blend with the Early-American feeling of the mill.The old Ford pickup has an unusual floor shifter.The Fields have just completed remodeling the 1790 house that was originally a tavern and inn for travelers.Jamie and Autumn.It's a peak-foliage weekend in Vermont.Apples arrive all afternoon.Jamie's father, James Maerder stops by to watch and help.The end result of a hard day's work.

A New England Tradition Goes Back in Time
An autumn tradition around much of America is harvesting apples and making cider, and somehow doing it the “old way” makes it taste even sweeter.

Near Woodstock, Vt., the Fields family bought a beautiful 233-acre Vermont horse farm called Ogden Mill which just happened to include a derelict water-powered mill and cider press. After the family renovated the 1790-era house which had served as a tavern and inn, Thatcher Fields turned his attention to restoring and bringing the old mill back to life.

The results of Fields’ work didn’t disappoint. On a recent bright, sunny October Sunday, neighbors from Vermont and New Hampshire arrived with thousands of apples to recreate exactly how cider was made many years ago. Everyone agreed that the result was some of the best cider they had ever tasted.