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!



Sugarhouse Steam

sugarsteam2018

March 9, 2018

What a roller coaster maple syrup season we have been having! We started off with a bang in mid-February. We had lots of sap as the temperatures rose to unseasonable highs. It lasted for a few days, but boy were we busy! We boiled until after midnight several nights.

March blew in like a lion and buried us in a wet heavy snow, that closed schools and made driving hazardous. Since then we have had one small run here at the farm where the bulk of our sugarbush is in a small valley next to the river. My son lives a few miles away on a ridge. His sugarbush is about 500 hard maples. Several of those trees are very large and situated in their yard and along the road. His trees seem to gush sap every time the sun shines! These trees have kept us in sap making for a good season so far.

Thanks in part to my son’s sugarbush and us gathering partial bags, we have boiled five times so far. We are making syrup and having a great time. The horses are liking the partial loads as they toughen up from a winter rest. It has been an unpredictable season so far, that has caught us off guard more than once.

Today, after another March snow storm that has blanketed us with about 8 inches of snow, the sap is not running and thankfully….neither am I



Maple Season 2018
February 25, 2018, 8:47 pm
Filed under: February 2018 | Tags: , , , , ,

maple2018

February 25, 2018

This year’s season started off in a BIG way! We tapped a week ago today. The ground was slightly frozen and a little snow covered the ground. It was like a picture from a New England farm scene. We laughed and worked and had the tapping job done in no time. The sap started to drip by late afternoon.

On the next day, Monday, we installed the unloading pipe for the new tank. It was raining steady. We waited as long as we dared, but finally had to work in the rain. We got soaked to the skin, but before dark, the pipe was set and the sugarhouse was mostly ready.

unload2018

The new tank receives the raw sap. The sap coming into the tank gets filtered as it fills the tank. The sap gets filtered again as it pumps inside to the big tank that feeds the stainless steel evaporator.

Now that the new tank is in place and working well, we will make a more permanent unloading pipe support structure. I guess that will be an upcoming project, because for now, this works very well….and there is no time for any other projects!

boiling2018

We started collecting sap late in the day Monday and finished after dark. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we gathered sap and boiled until after midnight. Those were some very long days. Friday and even into Saturday we boiled to empty all the fresh maple sap in the tanks. I went through a lot of wood. Thankfully, the sap had quit running by Thursday afternoon … so, for now we are caught up. Tomorrow I will do some additional cleaning to make ready for the next sap flow.

The maple season, just like making hay, is 100% dependent upon Mother nature. We need cold nights and warm days to make the maple trees drip sap. I am very glad that she gave me a rest today. I think the horses are too. We are now pretty much in the swing of this spring dance, called maple syrup season. The steps are not new. When the sap runs, the maple syrup producer does too!



Woodshed Full :o)

conniewood

October 15, 2017

I engaged some man sized help from my neighbor boys and in just three hours, we finished filling the woodshed. This will boil the 2018 maple sap crop. A full woodshed, filled with drying wood, many months before it will be needed, is an awesome thing!

Using good dry seasoned wood increases the BTU’s when burned, producing a very hot fire. A very hot fire is just what is needed when boiling maple sap… or heating a home. Honestly, firewood should be cut a year ahead of when it will be burned for best results. I pile the logs all winter long for the next years wood. I slowly, yet steadily, start filling the woodshed as soon as the maple season ends.

This year, having had my knee replaced, made work take a bit longer but it did get done. As I look around the farm, with winter looming, I am satisfied that I will have everything done before the snow flies. It took lots of family and friends and I am thankful for each and every one of them!



Porches and Additions

tankporch

October 9, 2017

In the hustle and bustle from out of state family visiting, my step-sons, son in law, grandson and I (in a supervisory role of course) built this addition onto the sugarhouse for this new storage tank. This tank will provide enough room for 4000 gallons of sap. It will allow me to gather the sap from our entire woods before boiling. Up until now, I had to boil to make enough room, to hold all of the tree’s bounty.

tankfoundationporch

We had to excavate a portion of the hillside to accommodate the new porch addition. This task was completed by our, new to us, excavator and our son Matt. It was much easier than using a shovel! Treated posts and lumber provided the foundation for the new structure.

rooftankfrolic

Leftover steel roofing from our new house roof, provided the roofing material for the new porch. The new tank has its own lid coming soon, but the roof will offer weather protection, as well as, keeping it somewhat safe from falling tree limbs and such. I am very grateful for the new building and the workmanship volunteered to make it happen. Maple syrup time 2018 is looking real good!

backbarnadd

While we labored at the sugarhouse, my friends Justin and Gary, worked their tails off building this addition to the back barn. This new structure will provide a place for  winter storage of the last remaining equipment currently sitting outside in the weather. It was a busy day for sure. I am one happy farmer, thanks once again to great friends and a wonderful family!



Find and Opening
September 29, 2017, 7:30 pm
Filed under: September 2017 | Tags: , , ,

feedmanger

September 29, 2017

The hay feeder is taking shape. The cows should be able to find an opening, to munch on the sun cured hay, all winter. We used an old print from a university. I’m guessing it was information first posted in the early part of the last century. The measurements were just right for my cattle. I guess some things don’t change.

The opening at the top is twenty one inches. At the bottom the opening is seven inches. This gave me seven openings on each side. My feeder measures just under seven feet wide and eighteen feet long. I will fill it with round bales using my skid steer.

The hay feeder project is almost complete. Lumber is waiting for another project. I am in high gear. My knee is doing well, but I am still getting much help from family and friends. The next project is for an overhang to store hay and a couple pieces of equipment. That project is well started and should only take a couple more days to complete.

Lastly, we will be making a small addition to the sugarhouse for a large holding tank for maple sap. The tank is stainless steel and will hold just over 2000 gallons. This new tank will make it possible for us to have a storage capacity of well over 4000 gallons. We don’t use reverse osmosis in our operation. We choose instead, to boil the water out of the sap from start to finish. The flavor that develops during that time is awesome.

Our new guard donkey has found an opening in our family. The children are sitting on his back and loving him daily. He is content with the cattle and sheep as they eat, sleep and graze together. He comes when he is called. He is an adorable creature…long ears and all.