RicelandMeadows


Give Us a Break!
April 13, 2018, 10:43 am
Filed under: April 2018 | Tags: , , ,

bhivupset

April 13, 2018

Well, my ladies made it through a long winter, a crazy spring and were doing quite well. This morning, I find this. I first thought it was bear damage, but have decided that it is thanks to the wind and raccoons. I am beating myself up for allowing the wind to be a factor. The raccoons are just taking advantage of an opportunity. The bees however, have all died.

I will clean up the mess, assemble the hive after cleaning it all out and get it ready for a new batch of bees. I just am disgusted with this event. Folks, the honeybees need our help. They do provide honey, but the honey is a by product of pollenating our food! No bees…no food. This is perhaps a bit of an extreme statement, but is very close to the truth.

I will keep trying. I will upgrade my setup for the bee yard. I will even look at a better way to stabilize the topbar hives. I’m not going to give up, but I can say that I am mad about this!



The Things We Do For Love
April 5, 2018, 10:23 am
Filed under: April 2018 | Tags: , , ,

easter2018

April 5, 2018

I do not care how tough or cool you are….when an almost 2 year-old tells you to put on Easter bunny ears…you do it!

As I write this post, I am reminded of how love makes the world go around. Of course there is love of family and friends, that goes without saying. I also think jobs like birthing baby animals, mucking stalls and making maple syrup are all labors of love. There is not a lot of profit in any of those jobs, but there is joy in all of them…at least for me!

When I drain a tractor rut in such a manner where the water runs across the grass instead of washing mud quickly into a stream, it pleases me. When I pull fallen tree limbs out of a small stream or cut a big undesirable tree, releasing saplings of hard maple or oak to thrive in the newly opened spot, I am also pleased. I know that I am doing things that will in time offer big rewards.

When I play with a small child or teach them something new, I can also see the promise in the future. We took two of our grandchildren to a movie last week. Our eight year-old grandson held the door for us and some other people as well. Both of them said please and thank you. I was very proud, not only of them, but of their parents as well.

All of us need guidance and love. When it is my turn to provide these things, I do my very best. Reaping the seeds of what you have sown can be a wonderful thing. I feared that I worked too much when our kids were little. Seeing the generations from the children we raised, makes my heart soar. Apparently, I spent enough time to show the way, offer advice and live by example. None of the time was wasted.

I am blessed to have had the opportunity to blend a big family. I didn’t always do things right, but I never quit trying. My wife and I are surrounded with children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They are our labor of love. They are worth every minute that we spend with them! This farm anchors us all. I hope to continue to show, teach and share with all of them…how life truly depends upon six inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains….. All that love stuff is the fun parts!



Another Maple Season Come and Gone
March 29, 2018, 11:07 am
Filed under: March 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

endoftheseason2018

March 29, 2018

This new section of road saw many trips of horse drawn sled. On the day of the photo we had gotten almost two inches of rain. I am always impressed by the small amount of disturbance the horses do. Their impact on the land, even in muddy conditions is light.

I boiled maple sap for the last time this year yesterday. The syrup was still light and yummy looking. The taste was awesome too. I take a few sips to ensure the quality! Just a few drops to swirl on my tongue is enough to make a big maple smile.

Yesterday was bittersweet. The season ends so this job is done for another year. I enjoy this time of year like no other. Sometimes its cold, wet and miserable as we gather in the sleet or rain. Other times the sun shines warm on our faces as the snow covers the ground. The steamy room echos with voices of children, family and friends. I even hear the echo as I boil all alone. My memories rush forth from days long ago, as I watched my grandparents make this sweet treat I so dearly love.

The evaporator boiled the last of the season’s sap. I watched the puffy clouds make their way out the roof knowing that the work would be over for a year, but silent too will be the voices and laughter. You see, I make more than maple syrup here… I make memories and smiles, while ensuring an old way of making maple syrup is preserved for the next generations.

The clean up part of the job begins today and will continue for a week or so. Tanks, pans and piping all get washed, dried and stored away. The trees have all already been untapped. The spiles now get washed and dried. The job of filling the woodshed again will begin and take a few months to complete. All these things must be done, because the maple season 2019 will be here before we know it!

emptyshed2018

 



The Stars Are Out Again!

Hosknisap2018

March 22, 2018

My horses are stars again! They just had the role in a video showcasing our farm’s maple syrup operation. The footage was shot by Rural Heritage magazine and will appear in the future on RFD-TV. The CD will also be available for purchase from Rural Heritage magazine. You can look for this and other episodes made here at the farm by going to their websiteĀ Ruralheritage.comĀ 

It was an amazing day. We gathered maple sap. We tapped a tree and we boiled the sap and made some syrup all while being filmed. The horses gave me a little “push back” at first , but soon settled into their routine and worked perfectly…. as expected.

Maple season has been hit and miss, but these last few days we have been very busy. We boiled for the 7th time yesterday. The next few days look pretty good too. We will be in a rush as the season will soon be at its end, but for now we will work hard, even into the night….working at times, when the stars are shining!

Special thanks to Susan Blocker for the amazing photo of Hoss and Knight pulling the sap sled!



Signs of Spring
March 12, 2018, 9:54 am
Filed under: March 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

shedding2018

March 12, 2018

So far this year we have seen the sap run, robins, buzzards and red winged blackbirds. I have seen purple martin scout birds checking out the martin house, but for me a true sign of spring is the horses shedding their winter coats. Saturday, this yearly event started in full swing!

I spent quite a bit of time brushing their coats and thinning manes and tails. They almost shake their feet like a dog. The brush must feel real good as it helps to rid the itchy hairs. One of my horses is usually late to shed his coat, but this year he too, is losing the old hair in gobs.

We are hoping for at least one more good maple sap run. The weatherman says we may get it this coming weekend. The weathermen are often wrong, but the horses and other wildlife are predictable. I believe that spring is just about to bust wide open. The sap will have us running, while birds flock to the grasses peeking through the snow. Ill try to keep up spitting horse hair as I go!



Sugarhouse Steam

sugarsteam2018

March 9, 2018

What a roller coaster maple syrup season we have been having! We started off with a bang in mid-February. We had lots of sap as the temperatures rose to unseasonable highs. It lasted for a few days, but boy were we busy! We boiled until after midnight several nights.

March blew in like a lion and buried us in a wet heavy snow, that closed schools and made driving hazardous. Since then we have had one small run here at the farm where the bulk of our sugarbush is in a small valley next to the river. My son lives a few miles away on a ridge. His sugarbush is about 500 hard maples. Several of those trees are very large and situated in their yard and along the road. His trees seem to gush sap every time the sun shines! These trees have kept us in sap making for a good season so far.

Thanks in part to my son’s sugarbush and us gathering partial bags, we have boiled five times so far. We are making syrup and having a great time. The horses are liking the partial loads as they toughen up from a winter rest. It has been an unpredictable season so far, that has caught us off guard more than once.

Today, after another March snow storm that has blanketed us with about 8 inches of snow, the sap is not running and thankfully….neither am I



Maple Season 2018
February 25, 2018, 8:47 pm
Filed under: February 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

maple2018

February 25, 2018

This year’s season started off in a BIG way! We tapped a week ago today. The ground was slightly frozen and a little snow covered the ground. It was like a picture from a New England farm scene. We laughed and worked and had the tapping job done in no time. The sap started to drip by late afternoon.

On the next day, Monday, we installed the unloading pipe for the new tank. It was raining steady. We waited as long as we dared, but finally had to work in the rain. We got soaked to the skin, but before dark, the pipe was set and the sugarhouse was mostly ready.

unload2018

The new tank receives the raw sap. The sap coming into the tank gets filtered as it fills the tank. The sap gets filtered again as it pumps inside to the big tank that feeds the stainless steel evaporator.

Now that the new tank is in place and working well, we will make a more permanent unloading pipe support structure. I guess that will be an upcoming project, because for now, this works very well….and there is no time for any other projects!

boiling2018

We started collecting sap late in the day Monday and finished after dark. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we gathered sap and boiled until after midnight. Those were some very long days. Friday and even into Saturday we boiled to empty all the fresh maple sap in the tanks. I went through a lot of wood. Thankfully, the sap had quit running by Thursday afternoon … so, for now we are caught up. Tomorrow I will do some additional cleaning to make ready for the next sap flow.

The maple season, just like making hay, is 100% dependent upon Mother nature. We need cold nights and warm days to make the maple trees drip sap. I am very glad that she gave me a rest today. I think the horses are too. We are now pretty much in the swing of this spring dance, called maple syrup season. The steps are not new. When the sap runs, the maple syrup producer does too!