Making Maple Syrup & Other Small Signs of Spring

1 04 2008

Gib lights the evaporator for the first time this season! 

We’re boiling again here at the Farm. It has been an odd season so far, starting late and slow to get going. Ideally the trees are looking for cold nights and warm days to really get the sap flowing, but instead it has just been pretty cold. We even tapped in early this year thanks to the availability of our high schoolers during February break (which was frigid and often snowing, but they went out anyway!)- we were hoping to get the first run of really light amber syrup, but it didn’t come for us. It may have been running in December just like last year so we’ve only gotten Medium and Dark Amber.

Jesse tapping trees for hanging bucketsWe’ve had lots of group tours coming to learn about sugaring in the last month. It has been really fun teaching folks (kids, mostly) about how we make maple syrup, taking them on a hayride where they get to help empty sap buckets (provided they aren’t frozen) and then introducing them to the animals. The kids really love the critters, especially those young ones that have never seen a real pig before, let alone scritch one behind the ears or touch the sleek feathers of a hen and hold a warm egg (a green one!). There is something very special about how they really light up when they are almost nose to snout with 450lbs of Pinky who is almost always ready to leave her warm nest to visit with the kids- though sometimes she needed a little snack to entice her the first couple times. It really is great. If you would like to arrange for a group Maple Sugaring Experience, check out the Education Program page for details!

Despite the fact that it is snowing we have seen other signs of spring here at the farm. Dave’s daffodils and other bulbs planted around the farm started poking up through the frosty earth even before all the snow was gone. A few tree species have started the first signs of budding and a pair of jeweled wood ducks has been gracing our section of Waconah Brook. They have been frequenting the area right around the bridge- and try as I might to snap a picture they are very shy. No signs of Mergansers as of yet, but the Canadian geese and robins have returned, much to the delight of Pippin who finds the robins particularly exciting to chase.  
Jesse hanging sap buckets
Farm news: We are still looking for a full-time intern/apprentice. If you are interested or know of someone who might be- check out the Job Opportunities Page for more information or give us a call/email us at the farm.  

Animal news: The young pigs are all growing well, but they are definitely getting bored with being in the barn. The plan is to get them out onto pasture as soon as the snow is gone from the field they are due to renovate. Porter, the big boar, is still here for a little while longer, mostly until we’re sure his job is done and then he will go home (or possibly visit some other sows that we know). We hope to have a new batch of piglets arriving sometime in June/July.The chickens are also getting bored with their winter accommodations and more of them have taken to escaping for part of the day to hunt for bugs. They will soon be moving out to pasture as well- and in their new house that Jesse built for them last fall. Our baby chicks arrived on March 3rd. We decided on White Wyandottes, Blue Andalusians, Barred Rocks, Dark Cornish and, of course, more Araucanas this time around. We also got some adorable Blue Cochins for a friend and fell in love with them so we might have to put them on the list for the next batch we order. Our egg production is ramping up- we are getting more than 4 dozen per day now and hope to get to 6 dozen as the days get even longer. We have started putting eggs for sale back in the fridge down at the office- we’re holding out that they will no longer freeze. There is also still pork available in the office freezer, but we are quickly running out, but we still have ham & bacon and a few others. Chops are sold out!  More pork will be coming at the end of June or so. 

Making Soil Blocks in the Greenhouse

Veggie times: We have started growing in the greenhouse! Onions, leeks and shallots are thriving and this past weekend we did our first seeding of broccoli, scallions & lettuce. Flowers, herbs, peppers & tomatoes, cabbage are quick to follow as the season starts to really get going. All those little green shoots poking up out of their dark soil blocks are pure joy to watch.  The Garden CSA is just about sold out. We still have a few more shares left, so get us your sign-up forms if you want to pick up a weekly share of our vegetable harvest. Tuesday pick-ups are SOLD OUT, but we still have Thursday and Saturday available. We will also be opening the farmstand in late May with vegetable, herb & flower transplants with fresh harvested veggies following soon after.

If you get a chance, check out a new delivery service for our area- Berkshire Organics– they are going to provide baskets of organic produce and fruit year round- working with as many local, organic farmers during the growing season and a distributor for the rest of the year. Multiple baskets to choose from- including a fruit only basket! Checking out the chickens and pigs




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