RicelandMeadows


Another Maple Season Come and Gone
March 29, 2018, 11:07 am
Filed under: March 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

endoftheseason2018

March 29, 2018

This new section of road saw many trips of horse drawn sled. On the day of the photo we had gotten almost two inches of rain. I am always impressed by the small amount of disturbance the horses do. Their impact on the land, even in muddy conditions is light.

I boiled maple sap for the last time this year yesterday. The syrup was still light and yummy looking. The taste was awesome too. I take a few sips to ensure the quality! Just a few drops to swirl on my tongue is enough to make a big maple smile.

Yesterday was bittersweet. The season ends so this job is done for another year. I enjoy this time of year like no other. Sometimes its cold, wet and miserable as we gather in the sleet or rain. Other times the sun shines warm on our faces as the snow covers the ground. The steamy room echos with voices of children, family and friends. I even hear the echo as I boil all alone. My memories rush forth from days long ago, as I watched my grandparents make this sweet treat I so dearly love.

The evaporator boiled the last of the season’s sap. I watched the puffy clouds make their way out the roof knowing that the work would be over for a year, but silent too will be the voices and laughter. You see, I make more than maple syrup here… I make memories and smiles, while ensuring an old way of making maple syrup is preserved for the next generations.

The clean up part of the job begins today and will continue for a week or so. Tanks, pans and piping all get washed, dried and stored away. The trees have all already been untapped. The spiles now get washed and dried. The job of filling the woodshed again will begin and take a few months to complete. All these things must be done, because the maple season 2019 will be here before we know it!

emptyshed2018

 



The Stars Are Out Again!

Hosknisap2018

March 22, 2018

My horses are stars again! They just had the role in a video showcasing our farm’s maple syrup operation. The footage was shot by Rural Heritage magazine and will appear in the future on RFD-TV. The CD will also be available for purchase from Rural Heritage magazine. You can look for this and other episodes made here at the farm by going to their website Ruralheritage.com 

It was an amazing day. We gathered maple sap. We tapped a tree and we boiled the sap and made some syrup all while being filmed. The horses gave me a little “push back” at first , but soon settled into their routine and worked perfectly…. as expected.

Maple season has been hit and miss, but these last few days we have been very busy. We boiled for the 7th time yesterday. The next few days look pretty good too. We will be in a rush as the season will soon be at its end, but for now we will work hard, even into the night….working at times, when the stars are shining!

Special thanks to Susan Blocker for the amazing photo of Hoss and Knight pulling the sap sled!



Signs of Spring
March 12, 2018, 9:54 am
Filed under: March 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

shedding2018

March 12, 2018

So far this year we have seen the sap run, robins, buzzards and red winged blackbirds. I have seen purple martin scout birds checking out the martin house, but for me a true sign of spring is the horses shedding their winter coats. Saturday, this yearly event started in full swing!

I spent quite a bit of time brushing their coats and thinning manes and tails. They almost shake their feet like a dog. The brush must feel real good as it helps to rid the itchy hairs. One of my horses is usually late to shed his coat, but this year he too, is losing the old hair in gobs.

We are hoping for at least one more good maple sap run. The weatherman says we may get it this coming weekend. The weathermen are often wrong, but the horses and other wildlife are predictable. I believe that spring is just about to bust wide open. The sap will have us running, while birds flock to the grasses peeking through the snow. Ill try to keep up spitting horse hair as I go!



Bye Bye Syrup Season
February 23, 2017, 5:32 pm
Filed under: February 2017 | Tags: , , ,

mailmaple

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!



Is it over?
February 23, 2017, 12:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , ,

ralphsyrup

February 22, 2017

Tonight, I finished boiling in the sugarhouse, after ten pm. I have been going almost non-stop since last Wednesday. We had to get ready, tap the trees set up unloading tanks, do a little extra cleaning, gather the the sap and start boiling. Every single thing over lapped the other! We started boiling very early Monday morning. The evaporator rested a total of 15 hours since then…only because I had to get some sleep, oh yeah and gather more sap!

The weather has gone nuts! It has been warm, no freezing in sight for another few days. I fear the trees will bud, then no matter how cold it gets, the syrup season is over. Today, the horses slogged through the mud in the warm temperatures. They sweated due to their heavy winter coats. We went slow to go easy on the horses and to prolong the season…well, that is why I went slow.

As always, it has been a family affair. All of our children giving some of their time and help to make this season all come together. My cousin has been with me almost every day, helping in many ways. Friends have stepped up and I have reached deep inside to keep going when my body said it was time to rest.

So, tonight, I write this blog, tired, happy, grateful and optimistic, but I am pretty sure our maple season is over. The next few days will tell the story. Tonight, I sat and watched the fire die down. I listened to the spring peepers and thought about climate change. The warmest February on record, is not good for syrup producers, grape growers or orchard growers. The buds will break, a freeze will come and the plants will suffer.

I don’t know if our syrup season is over, but I do know that climate change will effect every single one of us. It is a small world. Every single country needs to do their part…even the ones with developing economies. And China…well they should be ashamed of themselves.



Maple 2017
February 20, 2017, 12:00 am
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threesap

February 19, 2017

Whew, the sap is running and so am I. I got some very welcomed help over the last few days, as I readied for making maple syrup. Today, we managed to get everything in the sugarhouse ready, while my son and a whole bunch of friends gathered the dripping sap.

Many of the bags were full to the top. The mud was sticky and drying. The sled pulled hard, so we used three horses. They still have their winter coats on, so we went slow, not pushing too hard. In four hours time, they had gathered almost 1100 gallons of sap.

My sister and two of her friends came. They were an BIG help. We managed to do all the final clean up of tanks and equipment, as well as, the final set up. We finished just as the sap started coming in to the sugarhouse. Right in the nick of time! We hold the sap in a tank that my cousin and I set in the ice and snow last Thursday. Today, a few guys wore only short sleeves!

Our weather for the next few days has us concerned. The warm up is coming too fast. Time will tell how our season will go, but it has started. Tomorrow we will be boiling much of the day. Oh what a wonderful day it will be!



February A Time Of Waiting
February 1, 2017, 10:58 pm
Filed under: February 2017 | Tags: , , , , ,

101_0717

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.