RicelandMeadows


The 2015 Season Ends
April 7, 2015, 10:07 pm
Filed under: April 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Its Syrup!

Its Syrup!

April 7, 2015

Today, I boiled the last of this season’s maple syrup. We had a rough last few days as I worked my off farm job and pushed to get the last of this years sap collected and boiled. I will now catch up on sleep and start the big job of clean up. The trees must be “untapped”. The spiles, and bags must be taken down. The spiles get cleaned and dried, then put away. The plastic bags get collected and taken to the recycle. The sugarhouse and all equipment gets cleaned and stored away until next year.

We had a good season. We made and canned some nice syrup. The greedy trees kept a lot of their sugar, so our yield is down, but I will still have enough for our farm’s customers. I will even sell a barrel of bulk syrup wholesale. All and all, the effort was worth it on every count. The best thing is, that I made memories and so did quite a few visitors to the sugarhouse.

The woodshed is showing the effects of all my boiling. The job of woodcutting is now at hand. I will get started on the giant oak tree again very soon. The maple season may be over, but farm work continues to keep me busy. Logs to skid will keep the horses in shape, as we wait to begin plowing. My clean up jobs, chores and woodcutting may be the order of the day for now, but spring planting season looms…..oh yea…and all that lawn mowing too  😮

Farewell...until next year.

Farewell…until next year.

Thanks to my sister Charlie for laughs and help, my family for help, understanding and goodies. Special thanks to Charlie McCormick for conversation and help. Thanks to my sap gatherers, Sheldon, Marcus, Tony, Lyric, Josh, Becky, Ken and Mae. Hats off to Knight and Hoss for pulling their hearts out and for showing my sister what large feet do to a big mud puddle  😮



Dashing Through The Mud
March 28, 2015, 10:25 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Mad Dash for Sap

Mad Dash for Sap

March 28, 2015

Last evening we made a mad dash to gather all the sap before the cold weather set upon us. We got started about 3:30 pm. The wind was cold and snowflakes were starting to fly. The sap bags hanging on the trees w ere starting to skim over with a thin layer of ice on the sap. Many of the bags were full to the brim. I simply had to get them all gathered before they turned into frozen bags of ice.

I used a couple of young men whom came well recommended, but whom I had not met. They caught on quickly and did a great job. We slogged through the freezing mud from tree to tree. We had to clean the ice off the strainer pan every few buckets. The boys took it all in stride. They got soaked from the waist down as we worked. The temperature dropped, as we worked, into the teens. It was crisp to say the least!

At 8:15 we were finished. They boys helped me unhook from the sled and put the horses away. I was very grateful. My fingers were cold, but worse than that, the tug chains and almost every buckle and snap on the lower parts of the harnesses was frozen. The tug chains were even frozen to the doubletrees. I would have had a heck of a time by myself, perhaps even winding up in a tangled wreck.

When we finished we had gathered 1260 gallons of maple sap. We spent much of today boiling, making maple syrup. The sap continues to not be real sweet, so our yield is down and the ratio of sap to syrup is about double what we usually see….this batch came off at about 80:1  I am burning lots of wood, doing plenty of work and even though the results are not the best… I am smiling from ear to ear… I love this job…mud and all 😮



In A Fog
March 22, 2015, 10:32 am
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , , ,
Rolling Boil

Rolling Boil

March 22, 2015

We collected a good amount last night just before dark. The trees quit dripping because the temperature dropped. This is awesome weather for us maple producers. I am hoping this batch of sap is sweeter than it has been. So far, the sugar content is much less than the usual 2%. This means lots of boiling and not much to show for it.

When the steam rises and the sap boils, I get lost in a fog literally and figuratively. Sometimes the room fills with steam, opening the door a crack will help it clear. My mind however fills with memories and that fog takes quite a while to clear. I am filled with gladness as I pause to remember my grandparents and times in the sugarbush on their farm… In a word, I can only say, “Sweet!”

We will boil today and I will have a great afternoon. Family and friends are coming to see and experience the wonder that is contained in a sugarhouse. The season is short and intense. Making maple syrup is something that you love. It is almost a sickness. The work is hard and the prep work takes an entire year, but for those who love it, like me… It is pure fun and enjoyment…. My kids will verify that I am indeed in a fog.  😮



Time to Tap!
March 8, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Here we go!

Here we go!

March 8, 2015

Here we go, the 2015 maple syrup season is off and running! Two days ago it was -9 degrees F. Today it is 40 F. I will get started tomorrow. The horses and equipment are ready to go. We will start tapping hoping to finish by the end of the day on Tuesday. There are lots of things to do, but so starts my favorite time of the year!

The snow has been settling, melting from the bottom up. It is still a little deep in the woods, but melting fast. The frozen trees will soon start waking up. I hope to be all ready when they do. The steam will be rising by the end of the week no doubt.

The weather looks like it will beat us up with sap, but hey…that is what it is all about!



And Now … Rain!
March 3, 2015, 2:45 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , ,

 

Snow pile by the house

Snow pile by the house

March 3, 2015

Well…just when you think it can’t get much worse, weather wise… now it is raining!

I thought some warm rain might settle the 27 inches of snow we have, but where will it run off to? So far not much settling is happening. Instead, we have gotten three hours of freezing rain. There is a coating of ice on everything, making simple chores difficult. I can hardly wait for tomorrow when all the doors are frozen shut 😮

It looks like we may try tapping our maple trees next week. The weather is turning more like late February…even though we will be approaching mid-March! The hope is that the deep snow in the woods will be a little less and that the temperatures will make the sap run. There is no running today anywhere…mostly just slipping and falling.

The animals are fed and warm. The pens have been cleaned and all is well. I will spend much of the rest of this day indoors out of the wet. I continue to work on my writing project, with no guilt at all as I sip tea and wait for inspiration to hit me. So, that is how it will work… I’ll get inspired or I will take a nap 😮