April Delay
April 30, 2019, 4:34 pm
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April 30, 2019

Well, the rain keeps falling here in northeast Ohio. Plowing for the next few days has been delayed again. The grass is growing very well, but the soil is very wet. I am glad for the growing pastures and hay fields, so will just smile as I wait for drying conditions.


The soil is turning nicely when we can do it. The field should be a nice seedbed for the coming corn crop.I could drain this water quickly, but doing so will let a lot of soil and nutrients escape from my farm. I keep a sod strip between me and the road ditch as I try to be a responsible land steward. I don’t want to pollute any water sources downstream of my farm.

This rain has stopped all field work, but other projects rise to the top of the list. We are also working on filling the sugarhouse woodshed for the 2020 maple syrup season. We still have a bit to go, but it is filling quickly. We had a good day last Saturday splitting and stacking for a few hours. We had lots of help and the job went quick and smooth. Just two short rows to go and the woodshed will be full. A great job to have done before other seasonal jobs take our time.


Progress is a wonderful thing. We will wait on the rains to ease, but we won’t just sit around and watch it fall. This farming life gives us plenty of opportunity to use other skills and equipment. I may even work on some forging projects, but first to complete the woodshed filling job!

February Warm Up
February 2, 2019, 4:25 pm
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February 2, 2019

The groundhog didn’t see his shadow, so he predicts an early spring. It is warming up after some very cold days. One of the days last week our high was -4 degrees F. Today, here at the farm the sun is shining bright and the temperature is on the rise. Soon we will be tapping maple trees for syrup. Days like this make me very anxious.

Our woodshed is full and we are ready for the season to start. Experience has taught me that starting too early, using the old time methods we use, makes for a big headache. Our buckets and bags freeze quickly when the trees just drip a little. The containers are soon a frozen block of ice…then a big sap run comes along and we lose all that sap. Patience is our best friend. The guys with tubing can get away with starting a little early, but I’m sure that ice can be a big problem for them too.

Another thing that happens when you tap early, is that the tap holes dry out. You see the tap hole is a small wound in the tree. The tree sends sap to heal itself. The spile keeps the hole open, but mother nature is a wonderful thing and will heal the tree in spite of the spile. The hole dries out, no sap runs. So, as you race against time and weather, you battle mother nature too.

I will continue to prepare and try to relax. Once the time is right, we will pounce. It is a big job, but to me, worth the sweet rewards. The aroma of boiling maple sap will soon fill the air. The golden maple syrup will fill our jugs and the memories from days gone by will fill my mind and heart.

Warm January
January 8, 2019, 11:02 am
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January 8, 2019

As I write this entry, it is 52F degrees outside. Rain is falling and a winter thunderstorm grumbles and flashes out the window. Our winter has been more springlike than winter. We have had almost no snow and very little cold. Mud abounds making things difficult in the fields or forest.

I continue to work on cutting and stacking wood for the sugarhouse woodshed. It is mostly full. Just a few large pieces remain to be split. I have even started on next year’s wood, thanks to a good friend. The ash tree chunks in the foreground, were from dead trees near a lady’s barn. Now, they are no danger and will be utilized to make maple syrup.

Those ash trees were near a driveway, so we could cut and clean up without being knee deep in mud. I took the above photo last Sunday. The ground is almost drying out, but today, the rains are soaking it all again. We don’t have to shovel rain and I guess its moisture no matter how you look at it!

Cold snap coming for the week’s end. Maybe the ground will freeze and work can continue. In the meantime, I will stay plenty busy…as is a farmer’s life!

Cool Weather Wrap-Up
October 22, 2018, 9:35 am
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October 22, 2018

This past Saturday night, we got a late autumn storm. The wind driven rain and sleet pounded on the walls and roof of every building. The animals were snug, as was I, inside warm and dry. We woke to a light covering of snow that had followed an inch of rain. The cold and wet continued into Sunday, but at least the rain had stopped.


The cow herd continues to graze the wooded paddock on the north side of the farm. All of them are fat and happy. The young calves are little butterballs! Winter is crowding in hard, but so far we are on schedule to be prepared.


The sugarhouse woodshed is filling up fast. Most years this would be behind me, but I chose to not work on the hottest summer days. This year we had a lot of those hot days. As I look back, I wont make that mistake again. A little sweat in June and July, would have this job much farther along, perhaps even finished. It’s time to be picking corn, not still messing around with the wood…unless it was for a year ahead.

In any case, I will get it all done. I just need to keep reminding myself to stay focused. I am enjoying retirement, but it is easy to get sidetracked. I need to just make a list to guide me….then remember to look at the list!

Full to the Brim
August 8, 2016, 10:10 pm
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August 8, 2016

The sugarhouse woodshed is finally full to overflowing. What a great problem to have. The woodshed is quite large. It measures sixteen by twenty feet. The eave height is just over seven feet. We pile the wood up even higher in the middle, as we stack between the rafters. This wood will be used to boil our maple sap next spring as we make maple syrup.

Saturday, my buddy and his five sons, my hired man, my grandson and myself spent just over half a day filling this woodshed. My logsplitter performed great! We had to put a new motor on it a couple months ago. We chose a 22 horsepower Honda. The splitter doesn’t even slow down as large pieces are turned into smaller ones. It is fun to watch.

We had a  great day. We worked, we laughed and we even fished for a few  hours. The day ended with us all laughing, telling stories and eating an ice cream cake from the Dairy Queen. The work was hard, but made easier by all the hands that helped. The young men made me feel old. I used to be the one lifting large pieces and throwing them around defying gravity, but Saturday, I watched as men forty years younger than myself met the challenge.

How can it be? My mind still thinks that I can do everything that I used to do, but my body protests, especially the next day! Where have the years gone? Oh well, I still get all the work done….it just takes me longer as I work smarter, not harder. Of course what works even better is having great friends and young men who look up to me. The sugarhouse woodshed is full. I am full … of gratitude for my friends and family. Thank you.

Three Sheets to the Wind
June 6, 2015, 9:28 pm
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Sheets hanging on the new clothesline

Sheets hanging on the new clothesline

June 6, 2015

No I haven’t been drinking, I just love the smell and feel of line dried sheets. I think it is one of the best sleep aids in the universe. I put this new clothesline up for my wife. She is excited to be able to hang my bib overalls on the line. The buckles, snaps and big zippers beat the heck out of her dryer 😮 I guess with this one, we both win!

I have been working extra shifts and trying to keep up with the spring work on a small farm. This makes for a tired farmer and not much time left for writing. The gardens have been planted and many jobs completed. The kindling rack in the woodshed has been filled and the last of the plowing is finished. The speltz looks good. Plump seed heads have formed above the plant and are ripening nicely.

The horses are ready to skid a few more logs to the sugarhouse woodshed to be cut and split. All I need is a little time to make it happen. The hay tools will soon be gathered and made ready to go. The hay is ready to cut. We just need the dry sunny days of summer to cure and dry it. All these things will come.

Seventy-one years ago today, many young hit the beaches and countryside of western Europe. Many fine young men didn’t come home. Many were wounded, but they fought on against an evil that gripped a continent, indeed the world. I stand in awe of these men and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. Thanks to all veterans. Thanks to all men and women in uniform today who watch over us while we sleep and protect us from our enemies foreign and domestic. Raise a glass today, but don’t get three sheets to the wind!

Bringing It Home
December 10, 2014, 9:33 am
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Headed for the woodshed

Headed for the woodshed

December 10, 2014

Yesterday, we spent the entire day hauling the cut and split wood to the sugarhouse woodshed. We needed to make room to be able to split more. We hauled four sled loads, then switched to the wagon and hauled two very large loads with it. The woodshed is filling up.

A friend of mine who heats his house with an outdoor wood burner, has been working with me. We are working on the “share” plan. I fill his trailer once or twice a day along with the loads to the woodshed. There is plenty of wood and it is good to have the help.

I am sure that I will have the sugarhouse woodshed full before the next round of bad weather comes. My buddy will have more wood stored away than anytime since he started burning wood. I want to keep right on going, making wood for next year. It will be a very good thing to be ahead of the game!

As I gather the lines, after the sled or wagon is loaded, and head for the woodshed, I am filled with a sort of peace. It feels as good as going home. The abundance of wood, stored under a dry roof reminds me of mom’s Christmas cookies. Maybe it is the anticipation of the maple syrup season, maybe its the dry wood shed, or perhaps it is just the feeling that all is well? I can’t describe it, but my heart is full, my mind satisfied.

I remember getting off the school bus and walking in the backdoor of my childhood home. It was mid December, snow was on the ground and Christmas decorations were about. On our old chest freezer, on top of a holiday table cloth, were rows and rows of Christmas cookies. The frosted ones were my favorite, but the other kinds were eaten with joy too.

Perhaps the rows of wood in the sugarhouse woodshed, remind me of the rows of cookies. I only know that it is mid December, snowflakes are falling and I am as happy as a child. My memories of mom are on my mind and like a full woodshed…that is all good!