April 20, 2014
Easter Sunday, what a wonderful day! The significance for Christians is unmeasurable as this is the day that Jesus Christ conquered death. Small children look for gifts from the Easter Bunny, but like a sign I recently read said, Silly Wabbit Easter is for God.
The ewes were all sleeping in this morning. They laid quietly, chewing their cud. The sun was warm upon their coats. I’m sure that it felt good, especially after such a long cold winter, to just soak up the warm sunshine.
The week ahead looks long and tiresome, but I will attack it one day at a time. I will sleep well when I lay my tired body down. I will take comfort in knowing that I am healthy and still “hitting on all cylinders”. The work I choose tires me sometimes, but to me it is worth it! :o
April 19, 2014
It’s time for the 2014 lamb crop. The weather is beautiful. We lost three little ones born the night of the winter storm. So far, these babies are doing great. We have several more moms to lamb yet. Soon, the pasture will be jumping with cute little fluffy lambs.
The sugarhouse clean-up continues. I am very slow I guess. It seems that I have been working for a week, but it looks like I have only been a couple of hours. Maybe, I’m just too picky, but I want it clean, not sticky and neat…even the woodpile :o
A walk through the woods revealed a whole list of things that I would like to do. I had a great walk. The ramps, wild onion, trillium and other small wild flowers were blooming. It warms my heart to see the signals of spring and the beginning of another life cycle.
The sun has been warm these last few days. The soil is drying out some. I can’t plow yet, but it won’t be long. I will keep working on my clean-up job while I plan for manure spreading and plowing. In the meantime, the lambs will play, racing and chasing one another around the pasture…. I will watch, laugh and remember my grandpa Rice.
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: Rotating shift work, Spring, spring work, sugarhouse
April 17, 2014
I snapped this picture the other night down by the banks of Mill Creek…. Ok, I’m kidding :o
It does look as if they are chatting. I think they would be agreeing to head north at least as far as Canada! Today was sunny and bright. The temperature even warmed to the mid-fifties!
I am on the slow side today. Every now and then…swingshift gets to me. I will bounce back after a little sleep. I did get the animals all fed, hay moved and the stalls clean. I scraped the driveway and tried to fill some potholes. I still plan to accomplish a couple of small items in the sugarhouse, but then I will plant my butt on the couch and do nothing!
I will rise tomorrow rested and full of plans for the day. I have a list that is growing quite long, thanks to winter wanting to hang around well into spring. The good news is in the extended forecast. It shows a return to normal temperatures. The spring work waits. The horses ready and willing, also wait. The spring work will start with a vengeance as we bust ass to catch up.
It will all work out… It always does. In the meantime, I will continue to clean up the sugarhouse and all that goes with it. Once it dries out a bit more, we will be hauling and spreading compost. Plowing will follow the manure spreader. The seeds go in the ground next and if that doesn’t say winter is over… nothing does!
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: baby lambs, barbershop, farmers, old men, snow, weather
April 16, 2014
Okay, I like winter, perhaps even more than most people, but even I have had enough. It started snowing last October…I think 6 months of winter is enough. I am ready for spring and all that comes with it. The peepers have been singing. I am sure they have been “frozen out” twice already, so according to local folklore, one more freeze for the peepers and it will be spring! I am soooo ready!
Lambs are starting to hit the ground, but mother nature is being pretty rough on those little fellows too. They just need a day or two to get their footing and then they are very hardy. Being born on a rainy, sleeting night, is hard on any creature. I don’t know if it is the full moon signaling the mothers to drop their babies or simply that it is time, but the babies are coming, ready or not.
The weather is supposed to turn more towards normal in the weeks ahead. I am sure that before I know it…I will be complaining that it is too hot! I am just hoping for a return to normal in the weather department. A drought year followed by a very wet year, then a long cold winter…is sure stretching farmers to the limit… at least this one :o
The good thing about the crazy weather is, that it gives us country guys plenty to talk about at the barbershop and feed mill!
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: farm, peace of mind, quiet place, relax, Solitude, special place, woods
The importance of a good outlet can not be overstated. Of course it is important for farm tiles and culverts, but a good place to drain the stress of life is awesome! I like to think that I have several, but when it all comes down to it…there is just one place. That place is here on my farm.
Sometimes it is the woods where my problems are sorted and drained away. Other times it is under the shade of the porch where the stresses of the day melt away. Usually, I am talking to an animal or a whole bunch of them. They listen well and almost never talk back. One in a while a horse will say … “neigh”, but not often :o
I don’t care where you live or what you do, a place to blow off steam or perhaps just sit and have a good cry should be in everybody’s life. I think holding too much stuff inside is unhealthy and will lead to an early death. We humans, simply have to let go…otherwise we eat ourselves up.
I had to wake up two times in a hospital bed, before I realized to let things go that I cannot change. Some people simply can’t find that realization…the cemetery is full of them. They leave behind family and friends, because they couldn’t let work issues or changes in government or politics roll off their backs.
Just life and family can give you stuff to fuss about. Reach out, try, it will work out or not…you cannot change it. You have to just let things go. Destiny will be whatever it will be. We can’t change it, but we can let it go, hope for the best and forget about it.
The main thing, is to learn to give up what you cannot change. Turn over your concerns to a higher power and quit worrying about it yourself. I give my problems to God. Sometimes things work out and I get what I wanted, other times I don’t. I just have to trust that however it works out… that is the way it is supposed to be… I will leave it alone.
The best thing in my case is that I have several places where I can go and think. I guess that it is also good that I have learned to let things go. Of course, it wasn’t easy…but I did learn it! I encourage you to find a special place where you can go, relax and think. Perhaps it is the beach or a park or just a quiet place in your house…it is not important where it is…it’s only important that you find it!
Please don’t be bored or think that I am bragging. I just wanted to post one more photo of the sugarhouse, under steam and looking beautiful…at least to me :o I am very proud of this little sugarhouse and for all that it stands. I am sure that I should have my hands laid to this job, because it makes my soul soar.
My memories of my grandparents and parents making maple syrup are few, but very sweet. My grandparents were killed in February 1969. The sap buckets were half washed and equipment was ready to go as they prepared for the syrup season that never came … I was ten years old.
I knew that one day, I too would make maple syrup. I have been doing it for years now, but every year my sense of purpose gets even “sweeter”. I look forward to this season more than a vacation. The days can be long. The work can be hard. I get very tired at times and yet I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
I like to share the maple experience with family and friends. It is a purpose for which I was born. Some would probably snicker about my little old sugarhouse in the valley, but to me it is a cathedral in the woods… God speaks to me there.
The steam fills the room almost as much as my happiness. Memories flood in while, the water vapor yields the sweet concoction we call maple syrup. The process amazes me. The old-fashioned way that I go about making the syrup pleases me. After all, it’s not everybody who uses draft horses to help gather the sweet, clear sap.
I plan to make maple syrup as long as I am able. Perhaps one day my equipment will be all ready to go, when I cannot, like that fateful day in 1969. My hope is that on that day, I will have instilled the knowledge, the experience and the love of the job in my children and grandchildren. The steam will continue to rise from the cupola, the fire will burn bright in the arch and sweet memories will be made on this farm forever.
Filed under: April 2014 | Tags: farm's demands, water quality, woodland stewardship
April 8, 2014
In this example of muddy water running in a stream, I am reminded of problem spots in my woods. I have to cross some wet places, small streams and even the main water course for my sugarbush. I vow to make crossings, bridges and drainage ditches where it makes sense, to minimize my impact on the land. I want to be a good steward for the woodlands and streams.
It is my hope that in the coming months of 2014, I can design and build better sap roads. I will repair some old ones as I go, keeping best management practices in my plans, where water quality is concerned. The job is quite large, but not beyond my capabilities. I just need to focus and apply myself…around the rest of the farm’s demands of course.
I have already made mental notes and picked out spots for many of my ideas. I have many of the items to make this happen. All I need is time and some good…even normal, summer weather! My plan is to divide and conquer. I will finish one thing at a time with a goal to complete the whole project by October first. I will even work on cutting all the firewood needed for the sugarhouse as I go…. nothing like killing two birds with one stone!