Back to Chasing Firewood
January 29, 2013, 7:51 pm
Filed under: January 2013
Hoss and Knight waiting for the sled to be loaded

Hoss and Knight waiting for the sled to be loaded

January 29, 2013

My son went to the woods without me today, to cut more firewood. The day was nice and warm, but rainy at times. He piled it up for me to get later. I am fine with that. I just hope to get it out before the next winter blast buries it all 😮

The days for maple syrup are fast approaching. I don’t want to be messing around with firewood while we are trying to do that job. I think I got through to everybody loud and clear. One or perhaps two good days and the firewood job will be done. I am pushing that hard.

There will be time when the sap isn’t running to work on wood. I don’t mind doing it then. We will see that job completed soon, but in the meantime, my son is back to chasing firewood.

Under the Weather
January 28, 2013, 3:05 pm
Filed under: January 2013
Duke saying, "Don't you feel good?"

Duke saying, “Don’t you feel good?”

January 28, 2013

This morning I have succumbed to the colds and “funk” that is going around. I have been battling it for a few days and thought I had it on the run. I was wrong. After a very long night and no sleep, I am resting, drinking liquids and staying down for the day. Hopefully by tomorrow I will be my self again 😮

A Day For Sharing
January 27, 2013, 7:40 pm
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: ,
Connie and King share a moment

Connie and King share a moment

January 27, 2013

Today was an awesome day. It started out crisp and cold, but the sun was shining brightly. The snow glistened as if diamonds had been scattered into it. Just looking at the snow made me smile.

I did a little clean up from yesterdays butchering and finished that job. Next it was chores and putting the harness on the horses. My hired man and my son Jake had the horses ready to go by the time my clean up job was finished.

Jake drove Hoss and Knight up and down our maple sap roads, while Justin manned the lopers and cut a whole bunch of face slapping branches out of our way. We continue to prepare for the upcoming maple syrup season.

I hitched Duke in the cart and followed along behind. I didn’t do much other than enjoy the ride and exercise Duke. We spent part of a day sharing who was in charge. I won. He had a good time,and performed well once he figured out who was picking the direction we should go.

Connie spent the day putting her kitchen back together after the new floor went down. She and King spent a minute visiting while she scratched some of his favorite places. He adores her, as do I.

Evening was spent visiting and sharing with an old friend, making plans for next week and resting. My batteries are re-charged and I am ready to face the music of next week. This farm is my sactuary and I will be forever thankful to have it.

Butchering Day
January 26, 2013, 10:22 pm
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: , ,


January 26, 2013

Yesterday, I taught my son how to walk a pig 😮 We used an old-fashioned pig crate. It is a rectangle wooden box, a little larger than the size of a pig, with no bottom. The pig goes in by way of a sliding door. Two men carry the box by handles on each end. They carry it just up off the ground. The pig walks along because he doesn’t like the box touching it’s rear end.

We walked the pigs 200 feet from my son’s barn to my trailer. We made a ramp out of white pine 2×6 inch planks. The pig walks right up the ramp and into the trailer. My son was amazed. The pigs went along without a squeal. They snuggled down in the straw in the trailer and spent the night that way in my driveway.

This morning we butchered the pigs. They were dispatched quickly, quietly and humanely. We killed them out on the snow. They were bled out there. We then skinned and finished the job in the shelter of the new slaughterhouse. It is far from finished, but worked very well to keep us out of the wind and cold.

We left the carcasses hanging to cool while we cut and hauled two loads of firewood. The snow is deep. The ground is not frozen underneath. The horses pulled us through the deep snow like we weighed next to nothing at all. We made two trips to the woods and back, filling two pick up trucks with firewood.

Our farm had some visitors today as well. A friend of mine who lives in the city, brought his grandchildren out to see the farm. They got to see all the animals and the farm by way of a horse drawn sled ride. I am sure they are still talking about it. They left happy, cold and still brimming with excitement.

Once the trucks were loaded, we unharnessed the horses. They were given a drink and some hay. We all gathered in the garage to cut up the now cooled pigs. In just under two hours, the pork was all cut, trimmed and ready for the freezer. It was great looking, fresh pork. I am sure many meals will be enjoyed thanks to those two piggies.

I had a wonderful day. I finished up just after 5 pm. One more trip to the barn to check on everybody, walk the dog and enjoy the view of the full moon. I am tired, but satisfied and will go to bed with a greatful, thankful heart.

Gathering Maple Sap
January 21, 2013, 1:00 pm
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: , ,
Sugar maple waiting on Spring

Sugar maple waiting on Spring

January 21, 2013

In just a few weeks we will be tapping trees such as this one. The trees will give up some of their sweet sap, which will become maple syrup after it is reduced down by boiling. A tree this size will have three spiles driven into it. Three is the maximum number you should use. The idea is for maple syrup production to be sustainable. Using three taps on large trees, will still leave plenty of the sap for the tree itself.

We tap many trees that only get one spile per tree. This year we plan to tap between 1000 and 950, about double from last year. The sap roads are in place. The spiles and bags are ready to go. The horses have been working, getting ready for the upcoming work.

One of my BLOG readers asked for more detail about my sap gathering sled. I searched my photos from last year and could not find a photo of my sled and tank. The equipment is stored away in my “delightful, camoflauged semi-trailer”. A winter storm is bearing down on us, so I will leave it stored until this coming weekend. I will get photos and do an article strictly on the method I use to gather the sap.

Today, we are moving round bales, cleaning stalls and getting ready for the big snow storm and bitter cold that is about to descend upon us. It is a wonderful thing, the cold. It will hopefully make for a wonderful maple syrup season. It is hard to project, but so far it looks good. Very soon we will be gathering sap 😮

Day’s End
January 19, 2013, 9:21 pm
Filed under: January 2013 | Tags: ,
Jake unharnesses Knight and Hoss

Jake unharnesses Knight and Hoss

January 19, 2013

The end of the day is a wonderful time. I like it when you start to unwind. I do it best after supper and my chores are done. I pause in the barn just before turning out the lights to listen to the horses chew. It is peaceful and makes me feel satisfied.

In the picture, you can see Knight with his head down waiting for his bridle to be removed. He is tired after a day of work. I am thinking it must feel like taking off your work boots for the day. You can almost see him saying …ahhhh 😮

Sounds like a winter storm on the way with some very cold temperatures. Yea! I like winter! I am sure it will force me inside the sugarhouse for that clean up job that waits for me. I am actually looking forward to it a bit. There is peace of mind when everything is ready for the maple season..it makes a guy rest easy at the end of the day.

Waiting My Turn
January 18, 2013, 9:27 pm
Filed under: January 2013
Hoss and Knight waiting on me

Hoss and Knight waiting on me

January 18, 2013

When I was young, I played with other kids like most of us did. We learned to wait our turn. When I was in the U.S.Army, I learned to “hurry up and wait”. As I get older, I realize just how much character those waiting minutes and hours, gave me.

I am not real patient. I can find stuff to do for a while, but get antsy fast. I do realize how important it is to wait for my turn to talk…although, I will capitalize a conversation when talking about my farm 😮 I find it rude when people break into a conversation to tell me what is the most important thing on their mind, dump it in my lap, then move on.

I wonder how folks become so important in their own mind? Do you raise them that way? Why is it okay to barge in anywhere, announce your idea to the world, then spin on your heel and leave as if to say… “Piss on you , I am the most important person that I know!”

I am sometimes appalled, but not suprised anymore, by the sheer sense of entitlement some folks have. I have only one other personality type that I disdain more. That person is an antagionist. Someone who lives to push other people’s buttons.

I can take quite a bit of stuff from most folks. In my job, plenty of that comes with the territory. I accept it all in stride. I am not good however, with those who lay in wait to kick you when you are down. I have zero tolerence for them. I snapped today. I have no regrets except to myself. I have pretty much held my temper for twenty years…today I held nothing back… and IT FELT GOOD!

I am fine now. I just realized it’s not my turn yet to have everything how I would like it. I can wait….. I’ve been learning to do that for much of my life 😮

January 17, 2013, 12:01 pm
Filed under: January 2013
Justin ..."Hands on training"

Justin …”Hands on training”

January 17, 2013

Last evening after getting a load of wood, we parked the sled out by the sugarhouse. It is better there since the snow melted. The gravel drive is hell on wooden runners! Anyway, once the sled was parked, the horses had to be driven to the barn. I handed the lines to Justin for him to drive them home.

He is a natural on the lines. He seemes to know just how much pressure to use. My horses are “up on the bit” so you need to take ahold and drive them. Sloppy lines are for whimps. My horses are alert and on the job… not crazy… just confident.

I could feel Justin’s nervousness when I handed him the lines for the first time, but after just a few yards I could see his confidence building. By the time we got to the barn , his chest was even sticking out a little. Yep, he’s hooked on draft horses 😮

I know what it feels like to have the lines in your hands for the first time. It’s much like the first time driving a car. Sure, you are puffed with pride and full of excitement, but the real statement is the fact that someone had enough confidence in you to say , “Go ahead, it’s your turn.” These are turning points in a guys’s life.

I took those times to heart. I always tried to do my best. There were times when my best wasn’t good enough, but I did learn something every time. That way, the next time I did better. I believed in myself…sometimes when many folks didn’t, but I would stand up, spit out the dirt and have another try at it.

Life is about getting knocked down once in awhile. It doesn’t matter how many times it happens… What matters is that you get up every time, square your shoulders and try it again! You can call it stupidity sometimes, but it builds confidence…and if you need anything in this world … It’s confidence… mixed with a little humility , of course 😮

Conversations in the Woods
January 16, 2013, 9:46 pm
Filed under: January 2013
Another load, plenty more to go

Another load, plenty more to go

January 16, 2012

Today, I was supposed to clean up in the sugarhouse, but it was just too nice to be inside. I started my day with a visit from an old friend…he isn’t old, our friendship is 😮 We had a great visit catching up on life and families. We walked my farm and woods for a bit. The conversation and company was as nice as the scenery.

We walked through the woods on one of the maple sap roads. I showed him our wetlands and part of the woodlot. I spent some time showing off the sugarhouse. I am sure the “sweet delight” of having one, was easy to detect, as my words spilled forth.

After lunch, I spent some time cleaning up some downed limbs and branches in the center of the woods. I made quite a pile of firewood in a short time. I was pleased with my progress, but much work remains. I harnessed the horses and waited for my hired man to get here from school.

We did chores so that everyone was fed. We next hitched to the sled and went out after that load of wood. My hired man and I talked about school, an up coming ski trip and future work plans. I like it that I can give him a project and not worry about him getting it completed…. even if skiing and girls are on his mind 😮

The horses handled the big load easily, even though there was no snow. They wanted to trot with the sled, but I held them back. The slower trip is safer and easier for an old lame man to hold on! I talked to the horses a little too. They are far from broke the way that I want them to be, but we get closer every day. They know their names now as Knight and Hoss …. for a while they thought their names were “whoa and Dammit”

Making Progress
January 15, 2013, 8:28 pm
Filed under: January 2013
Making Maple Syrup 2012

Making Maple Syrup 2012

January 15, 2013

Today was a fun day. I went to my pal Marvin’s house. We spent the afternoon in his shop getting our maple sap bags ready to hang for the upcoming season. I am getting more excited every day. The season is about a month away … and I can barely wait 😮

I will be busily cleanning and getting things ready. I am not much for housework. In fact I am not too sure that I have ever done any. Well, not much anyway! I do however, enjoy getting things ready in the sugarhouse. It is a big job to wipe down all the dust and sweep everything out.

The shelves will all need cleaned before the boxes containing the new empty jugs can be put away. I like to wipe everything down…even clean the windows! I am not real sure why I clean the windows, because the steam makes it a bit hard to see out, but I do it anyway. I am sure my mom would be amazed… I know my wife is!

I need to inventory my supplies. I am sure I need some new syrup filters, sap filters, a new wood bit for tapping and some smaller syrup jugs. We haven’t determined how many of the pints and half pint jugs we need yet. I am sure there will be more that I have not thought of yet, but I am making progress!