Celebration Day
December 30, 2021, 10:58 am
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 30, 2021

I enlisted a little help, but the woodshed is now full! I am ready to boil maple sap for the upcoming 2022 season. This is much later than I usually complete this job, but I will celebrate anyway. It was muddy when we got off the driveway, but Abby and Amee handled it all in stride.

We have more wood that has been split, so a good start on the wood for 2023 season. It is my plan to fill the woodshed at the completion of the 2022 maple season. Once the woodshed has been filled, I want to continue with the cutting and splitting. The goal is to get to the point where we will be almost 2 years ahead on the wood supply. I already have the next 2 years worth of logs piled in a sunny place making this goal easily attainable.

After a day of wet, cold, rain and snow, it feels good to bed down. I don’t care if you are two-legged or 4-legged a warm dry bed is a beautiful thing!

We here at the farm hope all of our readers had a wonderful Christmas. We are also wishing you a Happy New Year. We look forward to each day gifted to us. We make plans, prepare and execute work, but first we ask for our endeavors to be blessed. It is hard at times to wait for things to fall into place, but thankfully they usually do. If things don’t go well, it is best to pause, examine our plans and even our hearts. One thing that I know for sure… God will make a way where there is no way! We just need to focus on the destination and not the journey…. for the journey rests in God’s hands.

Christmas 2021

December 24, 2021

It is here, Christmas 2021. This month has been a whirlwind. All sorts of things were out of sorts. My wife got Covid. We spent two weeks away from folks and her under the weather for many days. Thankfully, all is well, but man did it shorten the “getting ready for Christmas” time. I am very thankful that we were healed. I lost two friends due to this illness in the last couple of weeks. My heart goes out to those families.

Our three “main” horses that power our farm, all got their shoes reset. This makes sure their feet are trimmed and they are ready for the coming icy drive and laneway. Hank is coming along good. He took his shoeing and feet trimming all in stride. He will turn 3 next April. He is growing well and fills up the shoeing stock pretty well already.

He continues to be a gentleman who works well with his mares. He is still a youngster, but will soon be a very valuable part of the inner workings of the farm.

We are working our way through the animal harvest, as we butcher and store the meat we have raised this past year. Beef, pork and chicken grace our shelves. We are thankful for those blessings. We even butchered our old laying hens. They gave us eggs for over a year and now will continue to keep us healthy with chicken soup made from their golden broth.

One of my last remaining jobs for 2021 is to finish filling the sugarhouse woodshed with wood for boiling. In most years, I am done by mid summer. This year however, due to all sorts of excuses, bad weather including lots of rain, I am nearing completion of the job. Hats off to a couple of friends who helped me this week to finish the splitting.

This will more than finish filling the shed. It will also give me a head start on next years wood. We use 12 to 15 cords of wood to make our maple syrup. Wood cutting, hauling and splitting takes a while. It is just part of our labor of love to make great Ohio maple syrup, but to me it is worth it!

Our horse-drawn dump cart works very well for this job. The horses and I will get the shed full and this job finished before we ring in the new year. They are all ready now for sure, sporting their new shoes!

Merry Christmas everyone from our farm to yours!

Snowy Start to December
December 9, 2021, 3:16 pm
Filed under: December 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

December 9, 2021

December has arrived. I have been busy deer hunting. It is usually a fun time, but this year was bittersweet. My uncle Fred passed away during this deer season. He was my mom’s youngest brother. He was a great friend to me all of my life. He was with me the day I got my first deer. It was a buck!

I was a very excited 15 year old boy. We had hunted all that morning, but hadn’t seen anything. We stopped for a quick lunch of my mom’s homemade tomato soup. Once we had eaten and visited with mom, we headed back out to make a pass around a large weedy field.

We posted the field. I walked down the remnants of an old fence line. Quietly, I watched the field and walked slowly looking for deer. All at once I saw him. The buck raised his head and I thought he was the “Hartford Elk” the old mascot of an insurance company. I was focused and a little shaky at the same time.

My uncle told me to grab a rest on a nearby sapling, aim, relax and shoot. It was a textbook shot. The deer died quickly, dropping in its tracks. We walked up to the kill and there he was, an 8 point buck. He was an old timer, so his rack was smallish, resembling a basket, but I was filled with pride. My uncle too.

We were a long way from the house. We gutted the buck. I told my uncle to stay with the deer and I would go get one of my ponies to pull the deer back home. It seemed like a very good plan. The pony however, wasn’t to thrilled about the idea. He wasn’t too keen on the fresh blood smell. We started home a bit quicker than I would have liked.

Things were going fairly well although I was taking some very large strides, when we got to the top of an old gully that was on the way home. We hit the top edge of the gully and as the path dropped towards the bottom, the pony, the deer and I picked up even more speed. My uncle who was short in stature, was already jogging behind me. I could hear him roaring with laughter as we dropped out of sight.

I made it down the hill in about three jumps. That deer made funny noises as it bumped along behind the fast stepping pony. Those noises fueled the pony’s flight reflex just in time to start up the other side of the gully. My big old rubber boots made a thundering sound as I grappled to keep my feet under me. It was touch and go for a few moments, but we all made it to the top. I squeaked out a whoa and my pony stopped.

The pony and I heaved and gasped for breath. Both of us were soaked in sweat and quivering. My uncle was almost on his knees, holding his sides and hoping not to pee himself as he continued to howl in laughter. The pony and I were not quite as amused.

I talked softly to old Stormy and asked my steady steed to walk a little slower as we made the final leg of the journey home. I gathered the lines and spoke to old Stormy. We were off like a shot once again! The bucks antler caught in the ground and flipped his body into my almost running legs. I fell onto the dragging deer, swept completely off my feet. The pony didn’t even flinch. He just reached out farther with his front legs covering more ground as we flew.

I squeaked another whoa and Stormy stopped. I rolled off the deer and onto my feet in one motion. I looked back for uncle Fred, but I couldn’t see him. I stood there for a minute looking for my dear uncle when I noticed the goldenrod tops moving where he was literally rolling on the ground laughing. He said when I did the deer surfing thing, it was the final straw for his composure.

We did get that old buck to the house no worse for wear. The pony too was fine. He was just glad that the job was done. Uncle Fred made it to the house as I unhitched the pony. He started telling my mom the whole story. It was funny watching him try to tell the story to mom. I began to laugh and we all kept laughing about it for years.

That story happened on my mom’s birthday almost 40 year ago. This year I stood in the woods on mom’s birthday, thinking about her and my uncle, now both passed from this life, I smiled. My heart hurt a little, but this old story came to mind. We all laughed until we cried ….