February 24, 2017, 1:30 pm
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February 24, 2017

Our maple syrup season is over for this year. It came and went in a flash. We have not seen a spring like this, since the year 2000. I want to take just a minute to say thank you to all the folks who helped us make this short year a success.

We had set up folks, tank cleaners, horse drivers, sap gatherers, photographers, float monitors, cooks and visitors. You all know who you are. I just want to say thank you, to each and every one of you. The job of maple syrup making is a labor intensive effort, made much sweeter by your help and by teamwork!

We identified a few opportunities for next year. We solved a few problems. We discovered a few real fixes and we look forward to trying some new things in 2018. All of these things are a direct result of the prospective views from all of you! I will try to guide and direct…usually as I busy myself with some task from across the room, to make our visions come to be, but know in your hearts… I cannot do this without you and I appreciate your tolerance of my passion.

Lastly, to my dear wife who washes pounds of mud from my clothes, cuts filters and counts bottles, while cooking, cleaning and keeping me in every way, I say to you, I love you!

I look forward to 2018 and our time during maple season, but remember the hay will soon be drying in the hot summer sun!  :o)  Love you guys!

Bye Bye Syrup Season
February 23, 2017, 5:32 pm
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February 23, 2017

Sadly, it’s over. The maple trees have budded this afternoon. Our season is now closed. It is a very good thing that we kept our nose to the grindstone as they say, because we made the best of a very brief season! All of us are tired. Now, the clean up begins. We made some very nice syrup. Though we didn’t do as much as last year, we made enough to fill our orders and our pantry. This golden treat is a wonderful thing as well as the memories we made this year while making it.

The horses and I will now get started plowing and hauling wood, after we in-tap the trees of course!

Draft Horse Tie Stall Manger


February 18, 2017

My draft horse tie stalls are ten feet wide.I made my mangers like the one pictured above. I had several people ask me questions about their size and how they are made. The mangers have a bottom that is about 18 inches above the floor. The ten foot width is divided in half. Each horse has a compartment that is five feet long, thirty three inches wide and twenty six inches deep.


I installed a corner feeder in each section for the horse’s grain. The size of the manger easily holds a half of a 50# bale. The horses have plenty of room to “root” around in their hay, without pushing it out onto the floor to be wasted. The mangers pictured have been in use since the year 2000. The top board is a 2×8 inch piece of red oak. The top edge of which is forty four inches high, when measured from the floor to the top edge.


I drilled a hole in the 2×8 inch top board. I off set it just enough to have a little more wood on the top of the hole than the bottom part. The chain is long enough to allow the horse access to the bottom of the corner feeder. That length is long enough to allow the horse to lie down easily, but not so long so the horse can get tangled. I use a big heavy snap to connect at their halter. I moved the snap a link at a time until I found the desired link for the proper length. This should be somewhere between 18 to 24 inches, depending upon the size of the horse, looseness of his halter etc. I cut the extra links off the chain to keep them from becoming entangled in the snap once it is attached to the horse’s halter.


On the end of the chain that is inside the manger, I attached these big rings. The rings can’t pull through the hole. They are heavy so as the horse moves forward, the ring pulls the slack in the chain to the inside of the manger. It slides up and down easily keeping the chain taut while not pulling on the horse. The horses had no trouble adjusting to the chain and ring.

My double tie stalls keep my horses safe and clean. They are turned out or used each day, so don’t need the exercise a boxstall allows. They can lie down whenever they want and often do. I would not make a double stall any wider than ten feet, nor a single stall and wider than five feet, otherwise, the horse may try to roll in his stall. I stable my horses in the same manner that they are hitched, each horse shares a stall with its team mate.

It is possible to harness that horses in their double stall. They are roomy for the horses and makes caring for them easy. I have used tie stalls since 1986. The key is that the horses need to be used or exercised daily. The mangers are a key component to keeping them safe, fed and secure.

February A Time Of Waiting
February 1, 2017, 10:58 pm
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February 1, 2017

Today marks the first day of February 2017. Early February for me, is a time of waiting. Its time to see if the groundhog sees his shadow. Its almost maple syrup time so we work and wait. There isn’t much work for horses, so we work at easy jobs. I don’t mind waiting for the spring work to start, but I confess, waiting for syrup season is like waiting for Christmas.

It was a cold day in February when I got the sad news that my grandparents had been killed in an accident. It was too much for my ten year old brain to comprehend. I stood in our kitchen and started to shake, then in the arms of my mother, I cried until there were no more tears. My whole world was forever changed.

After the funeral when we went into grandpa and grandma’s house, along the wall of the basement were the neat rows of maple sap buckets. My grandpa was waiting for the season to start, by washing the buckets. I stood and looked at the pails along the wall and I realized that maple season, for me, would always be a dear memory.

Even as I write these few lines, I have a catch in my throat. It is wonderful to have someone love you so much that in the short space of my ten years, I would think of them always. I especially feel bittersweet at this time of year as I get the sugarhouse and all the equipment ready for maple syrup season. Perhaps this is why I love this season so much?

The horses and I will work and wait. We will get things ready, including ourselves, for the work ahead. I am sure that I will pause every now and then, so my mind can wander through my memory to a snowy woods almost fifty years ago. These are favorite memories of mine. Where steam, laughter and the smell of horses can be found, I will be there too…even many years after I am gone.