The Sap Is Running
March 11, 2015, 9:27 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Clearly it begins...

Clearly it begins…

March 11, 2015

Today was a much better day than yesterday, as far as walking through the woods. The snow was still deep, but softer. I could move my feet without having to lift my knees to my chin 😮  It was still a very tiring, yet satisfying day. We tapped quite a few more. Our total is now 691. We will tap the last 109 down by the river, once we know it won’t flood us out.

The sap is starting to run. The big trees and trees in the shade are still being stingy, as they wait for the sun and thaw out. The weather is looking good for the next few days for us maple syrup guys. The snow is melting slow, which is a very good thing. There is so much of it, that if it all melted at once…some guy might start gathering animals two by two!

Tomorrow will be a big clean up day as we get everything ready to start boiling. The clean up done last spring is just a memory. I have some help coming so the job shouldn’t be too bad. We will boil water just to make sure all is well. I usually do a test boil a couple of weeks before the season, but this year has us right up against the wall. To say the least… I am scrambling!!!

I love this season. It is my passion. I like every thing about it….the only thing sweeter than the maple syrup made in my sugarhouse…are the memories!


Summer Slumber

Three of our girls resting

Three of our girls resting

August 13, 2014

A very busy off farm work schedule along with the demanding work around this farm, has kept me from writing for a while. I am currently enjoying a few days of rest, thanks in part, to the rain. Even the cows were resting this morning in the recently harvested experimental oats and buckwheat field.

The experiment went well for the most part, but I didn’t seed it heavy enough. I did harvest a few round bales for feeding this winter, but would not repeat the experiment. There are other forages that do better in the same time frame. Sorghum/Sudan grass does better. I proved that too in a side by side comparison this season.

I am an ambassador for both oats and buckwheat in other applications. Buckwheat “mines” the soil for nutrients. When incorporated back into the soil, buckwheat makes those nutrients available for the next crop. Buckwheat also lures all sorts of beneficial bugs, especially pollinators.

Oats grow well in spring and fall. They can be baled or grazed along with harvesting them for the grain and straw. I use them often to follow corn and as a nurse crop for grasses and legumes. The grain makes great horse feed, but I prefer speltz due to my work load and our cold clay soils.

I managed to get all of our second cutting hay made, along with the forage buckwheat and oats and sorghum/Sudan grass. All the bales were made without any rain on them… a real feat this year! I have one more field of clover second cutting, that will be made into balage for our cows. The silage type bales will be wrapped in plastic and resemble big marshmallows.

Our corn, planted June tenth, is doing well. Sure, there is better looking corn around, but my small field of open pollenated corn will feed our sow herd all winter. I am fine with that 😮 The fodder will also be used as a snack for the cows once the ears have been picked and stored.

Plenty of work awaits me, but it feels very good to be caught up for now and enjoying a few days of fun. A trip to Holmes county yesterday, made for laughs shared and memories made with Connie. We bought a “chicken Tractor” from an Amish man who makes them from conduit and small square wire. They are light and portable, yet strong and durable …. more on this topic later.

Our corn towers above the five foot fence

Our corn towers above the five foot fence

Boiled late
March 13, 2014, 3:32 pm
Filed under: March 2014 | Tags: , ,
2014 season begins!!

2014 season begins!!

March 13, 2014

   Last night, after battling a winter storm gathering sap, I boiled the first sap of 2014. This season has been crazy due to the weather. We are started much later than most years. The very cold weather wants to hang around. Yes, we need cold nights … but -4 F is a bit much 😮

   The horses worked in the rain as it changed to ice and then snow. I would have felt a little more sorry for them but we worked in it too. They got to go back into the barn for a good supper and a warm bed… I still had the big job of starting up for the season… I ate my supper at 9pm.

   I can’t help but love this season. It is the signal that spring is finally here. It reminds me of my childhood…long ago… and fond memories of my grandparents. As the steam filled the sugarhouse last night, I was surrounded by good feelings … I know that I am supposed to do this. I am very okay with that 😮

   The season looks like it is about to bust wide open. I hope I can work out all the logistics, stay ahead and meet only problems that I can solve. So far so good…it’s easy when you love what you do!

   I hope to grow this part of the farm business, but it takes lots of help, patience and the weather. Sometimes its hard to get all the stars to line up .. but when they do, it is a wonderful thing!!

   Last night, the wind howled and the snow flew. I had to give all the equipment a final wash and rinse. My fingers were almost frozen by the time I had finished that job. The sap filled the evaporator and I could finally light the wood fire. It was not long and the sap began to boil.

   I boiled for about three hours. I didn’t make even a pint of syrup, but the pans are now sweet, so the syrup will come at the next boil. The maple process requires lots of patience, as we boil away 40 gallons of water per gallon of syrup. The finished product is pure magic.. and the flavor is simply wonderful.

Slogging Through
November 10, 2013, 8:35 pm
Filed under: November 2013 | Tags: , ,
A cord of three is not easily broken

A cord of three is not easily broken

November 10, 2013

   Today, I had some volunteer help. My cousin Leroy and his son Chris, leant a hand at my wood getting effort. It is always great to see helpers 😮

   My cousin and I have been into stuff for all of our lives…we even got paddled together a time or two! Today was much like many of our times together, lots of laughing, sharing and making memories…Oh yea, he worked while I watched the horses  😮  My wife calls it supervising…I call it bullsh*t.

   We worked at the task at hand for several hours. I am still taking it easy on the horses. The conditions are still very muddy and sloppy. It takes an hour to brush the mud off the horses and only one trip to plaster them once again.

   The woodshed is filling up. I think we will finish hauling out of the gully bottom by the end of tomorrow’s session. The good news is, that everything we have hauled so far, is stacked and drying. The job looks neat and I am starting to fret much less!