Agnoizing and waiting!
February 22, 2014, 9:21 pm
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: ,
Josh and Rachel, tapping in 2013

Josh and Rachel, tapping in 2013

February 22, 2014

   Last week, the weather looked perfect for maple sap. I jumped at the chance to get ready. I kept an eye on the weather and the current conditions. I decided NOT to tap this past week. I think a few guys couldn’t resist the temptation, but I see another cold snap about to descend upon us with sub-zero temperatures…lasting at least ten more days.

   My woods were deep with snow, over 15 inches. The weather suddenly warmed on the frozen trees. It even rained quite hard. The woods that had been deep snow, became flooded much deeper than my boots. I agonized about tapping, but after talking with some experienced maple producers, I resisted the urge to tap the trees.

   Once a tree is tapped, the tree starts to try to heal that wound. The sap floods the tap. As the days turn into weeks, the hole begins to dry out. If I would have tapped this week, our holes would have been left to dry almost fourteen days before another weather pattern will arrive that may bring sap again. Waiting will give us fresh holes, eager trees and a little more time to be ready. If I missed any sap during this quick warm up, it was a negligible amount.

   We tapped too early last year in a haste to get started. We didn’t even make any syrup that first warm up. All we did was sweeten the pans. We had to battle ice in our bags last year as the trees would dribble during the day and freeze at night. Then we would get a nice warm up, but our bags were already half full of ice…the bags couldn’t hold all the fresh sap. We learned a BIG lesson last year.

   It looks like the deep freeze will return for most of next week. I am glad that I don’t have to worry about my equipment freezing up and breaking or bags filling with ice. The snow has melted to almost nothing now, so walking through the woods to tap will be an easier job too.

   The job of making maple syrup, is much like the job of haying…you can work your ass off, do everything right…but Mother Nature is in charge! She can be a fickle lady…so we will wait for her and Old Man Winter to get done arguing…in the meantime, we are agonizing and waiting 😮


The Last Straw
February 12, 2014, 7:16 pm
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: , , ,
The last bale of oats for this year

The last bale of oats for this year

February 12, 2014

   Today, I fed the last bale of these oats. I mowed them in early July. I thought that they would only make bedding for the sows. I was wrong. I baled them without using twine on them. Apparently, not tying them worked out well. The loosely rolled oats and weeds, cured in the bale without heating up. It made great feed for the cows, sheep and even the sows.

   The animals ate this stuff like candy. I tried to use it to make windbreaks, but the cattle ate it so fast, it was gone before I knew it. The sheep also devoured the forage. The sows rooted around eating the oats, green small weeds and grass, as if they were grazing. Everyone of them got a little bit of summer in every bite … and who wouldn’t like that? 😮

   Sounds like we will be out of the deep freeze by late next week. The move toward more normal temperatures will be welcomed by many. I am ready, but hope I get everything in order for the maple syrup season..pretty darn quick!

   I have to move some animals around in the barn. There is plenty of straw stored there, it is just a bit out-of-the-way at the moment. It won’t make feed, but it sure makes a nice warm bed.

   In the old days, people slept in mattresses stuffed with straw, called straw ticks. I guess it’s better than nothing, but I don’t think that pokey thing would have been anywhere near as good to sleep in as a feather tick! I know, I have slept in a feather tick, made by my great grandma.

Playing in the Snow
February 9, 2014, 7:15 am
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: , ,
Knight and Hoss out for a drive

Knight and Hoss out for a drive

February 9, 2014

   It seems we have been playing in the snow every since early October! I guess that is because we have been 😮 Oh well, the ground hog said six more weeks of winter… the good news is that he said that last week. So, now only five weeks remain!

   I don’t mind the winter, but I like it best when I am off work from my off farm job. I can take things slower and enjoy the days more. On work days I am rushed so much…the fun is squeezed right out of each day.

   I miss my dog. He liked the snow too. The big lug that he was, he liked to roll in the snow making big doggie snow angles. I still find myself looking for him now and then. It’s like I hear his collar jingle or see movement out the corner of my eye…I guess the movement is just a tear, now and then.

   Syrup season is closing fast. There is still quite a bit to make ready, but it is all coming together. Very soon we will be, walking the woods and playing in the snow …sounds much better than …working our butts off!

Pretty? Yes, but what a storm!
February 5, 2014, 10:40 am
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: , ,
Sugarhouse ready and waiting

Sugarhouse ready and waiting

February 5, 2014

   The snow storm has us in its grip as I write. Schools are closed and the roads are pretty bad. The snow is falling at a rate of an inch an hour. I’m waiting to dig us out once it lets up. It is pretty. All that snow makes for a big white blanket, covering the landscape.

   The wind is out of the north and blowing snow and pellets of ice. It is not a great day for working outside. I have a few projects to keep me busy. There is much cleaning to do to make ready for the maple syrup season. I will start today on that job… all of the tree spiles need cleaned…1200, to be washed, rinsed and dried.

   We plan to tap in less than three weeks. All of us are getting excited, especially me 😮 I love that time of year, the job and all the family time. The horses are ready to go … now we just need the weather to work with us.

   Chores, a little writing and my spile cleaning job, will fill my day. Then I can work a while digging out from this storm. Man, it is so good to be busy! There is no such thing as boredom here….so , like the song says, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”


February 4, 2014, 3:54 pm
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: , , ,
Well, there was a bird here!

Well, there was a bird here!

February 4, 2014

   I don’t think there is any place I’d rather be than … home. I snapped this picture of a small bird, all fluffed up, safe and warm, hidden in the bush. The bird flew the coop as the camera flashed… much like teenagers leaving the nest!

   I am getting ready for another winter storm. I’m making the animals as comfortable as possible. The cold may stay away some this time, but the snow is expected to pile up. I hope to be snug in the house tomorrow, working on a few writing projects and researching a few more. Sure, I’ll do the chores and check on my animals, but I plan to stay indoors, watching the storm out the window 😮

   Once my chores are done for the evening, I walk towards the house at the end of my work day, the soft glow from the house lights on the evening shadows, beckons me and fills my heart with joy. The smell of supper fills my nostrils as the warmth from the furnace feels good on my face. A house full of love is a home…and mine sure is 😮

   They say, when we die, a bright light will lead us. I don’t know if that is true, but I do understand why we refer to Heaven…as Home!

Riding out the winter
February 3, 2014, 8:02 pm
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: , ,
Te bee log, tucked in out of the weather

The bee log, tucked in out of the weather

February 3, 2013

   Freezing rain, followed by snow created this pretty picture yesterday morning. It was beautiful to see. The bee log rests in a sort of alcove in the white pines on the edge of the back pasture. The winds are less in that protected place. I hope the bee gals are all safe and doing well. I will know for sure in spring.

   The weathermen are all a buzz about a new winter storm bearing down on us. The storm is supposed to slam us starting tomorrow, late afternoon. I will get hay bales moved, pens cleaned and bedded, in preperation for our next winter blast. I, the guy who loves winter, am starting to tire of the constant cold and ice … not enough to ever move, just enough to whine a little bit 😮

   Our drive is still an ice slick. I managed to fall and crack my elbow this morning. It was a humbling experience, made a little better because no one saw me do it. I do have a goose egg on my arm and a small bruise on my ego. I used to bounce much better than I did this morning.

   Chores keep me busy this time of year as we ride out the winter. Feeding and taking care of the animals does take up a bit of my day, but it is a nice time, unhurried and full of gratification. It is almost restful as all of us are a bit lazy. We eat more, rest more and take a little more time out for things like looking at a beautiful morning landscape… so it’s not all bad!

Groundhog Day 2014
February 2, 2014, 12:35 pm
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: , , ,
Sugarwood, cut last fall, waiting to be moved to the woodshed

Sugarwood, cut last fall, waiting to be moved to the woodshed

February 2, 2014

   The old timers used to say, “Half your wood and half your hay is what you should have on Groundhog Day.” There is wisdom in that statement. Spring is getting close, but winter still hangs on tight. Today, the groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter. I am glad that our hay is holding out and is about at the halfway mark 😮

   We don’t heat with wood anymore, except for the sugarhouse. We boil all that maple sap with wood. I enjoy cutting and splitting and have even started on next year’s supply. My son does heat with wood and this hard winter has him wondering if he will have enough. I much prefer to be way ahead of the wood cutting game.

   The rain yesterday fell on deep snow and hard frozen ground. The drive and farm lanes are a sheet of ice. I don’t like ice. In fact, I don’t like ice a little more each year. I’m not sure when I got so unsteady walking on it, but I sure am. I shuffle along like a very old man…perhaps I am 😮

   The warm day yesterday of almost 40 degrees F, was spoiled by the falling rain. I worked in it for a while, but finally said the heck with it. There will be better days coming soon for outside work. The last thing I need is cold or flu, so working in the rain, I will avoid. Many say that colds and flu do not come from the weather …mom said it did, I’m going with that.

   Many projects, here on the farm,  are on the brink of being finished. The syrup season will very soon start. The compost pile is large and needs spread, seed needs to be ordered and there is always sugarwood to cut. It is a wonderful thing to be busy…. and I sure am. Today is “ground hog” day. We will celebrate by having sausage (ground hog) on our Super Bowl pizza!