Filed under: March 2014 | Tags: farm profits, GMO, maple syrup season, patience, peeing contest
March 5, 2014
In the photo, you can see a nemesis of northeast Ohio farmers called; Multa-Flora Rose. Once hailed as a great option for border fencing because it was “horse high and hog tight!”. It was hailed, praised and in some cases crammed down farmer’s throats. Now, however, it is known to be an invasive pest…another big “oops”, by the government agencies.
We should also pause to remember a chemical called DDT. A great pesticide, non-harmful…”oops”. It killed fish. The American Bald Eagle fed on the dead fish causing them to have very thin eggshells…and almost wiped the eagles out! … not to mention it is a carcinogen.
Now, our “big-brother” is celebrating the use of GMO crops, and Bovine Growth Hormones in milk …. no problem they say… but seems to me like there may not be enough data yet. I will avoid it for now and just wait and see. I think there are more pricks in government than may be on that pump handle
I too have been wrong before. I made great plans. I executed those plans only to have the outcome fall way short of my expectations. A few bruises to my pride, but no dead eagles at least! I discovered things like; an electric fence makes a very bad target in a peeing contest… Lucky for me, my cousin won that contest…but we both learned a lesson.
I recently re-discovered that having a barn full of pigs and no corn of our own..knocks the heck out of profits. In fact, I did a whole bunch of work these last few months …for the sheer joy of having something to do!
The weather is still too cold to start the maple season. The weatherman is teasing us with a short warm up for this coming weekend. The trees are frozen solid, the snow still quite deep in the woods … I think if we tap at all for this weekend, it will be a small number, as I try to be patient. All of us maple syrup makers are uneasy, excited and scared to think we may not get a season at all ….. time will tell… things don’t always go as planned!
February 22, 2014
Last week, the weather looked perfect for maple sap. I jumped at the chance to get ready. I kept an eye on the weather and the current conditions. I decided NOT to tap this past week. I think a few guys couldn’t resist the temptation, but I see another cold snap about to descend upon us with sub-zero temperatures…lasting at least ten more days.
My woods were deep with snow, over 15 inches. The weather suddenly warmed on the frozen trees. It even rained quite hard. The woods that had been deep snow, became flooded much deeper than my boots. I agonized about tapping, but after talking with some experienced maple producers, I resisted the urge to tap the trees.
Once a tree is tapped, the tree starts to try to heal that wound. The sap floods the tap. As the days turn into weeks, the hole begins to dry out. If I would have tapped this week, our holes would have been left to dry almost fourteen days before another weather pattern will arrive that may bring sap again. Waiting will give us fresh holes, eager trees and a little more time to be ready. If I missed any sap during this quick warm up, it was a negligible amount.
We tapped too early last year in a haste to get started. We didn’t even make any syrup that first warm up. All we did was sweeten the pans. We had to battle ice in our bags last year as the trees would dribble during the day and freeze at night. Then we would get a nice warm up, but our bags were already half full of ice…the bags couldn’t hold all the fresh sap. We learned a BIG lesson last year.
It looks like the deep freeze will return for most of next week. I am glad that I don’t have to worry about my equipment freezing up and breaking or bags filling with ice. The snow has melted to almost nothing now, so walking through the woods to tap will be an easier job too.
The job of making maple syrup, is much like the job of haying…you can work your ass off, do everything right…but Mother Nature is in charge! She can be a fickle lady…so we will wait for her and Old Man Winter to get done arguing…in the meantime, we are agonizing and waiting
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: bedding, feather tick, maple syrup season, straw
February 12, 2014
Today, I fed the last bale of these oats. I mowed them in early July. I thought that they would only make bedding for the sows. I was wrong. I baled them without using twine on them. Apparently, not tying them worked out well. The loosely rolled oats and weeds, cured in the bale without heating up. It made great feed for the cows, sheep and even the sows.
The animals ate this stuff like candy. I tried to use it to make windbreaks, but the cattle ate it so fast, it was gone before I knew it. The sheep also devoured the forage. The sows rooted around eating the oats, green small weeds and grass, as if they were grazing. Everyone of them got a little bit of summer in every bite … and who wouldn’t like that?
Sounds like we will be out of the deep freeze by late next week. The move toward more normal temperatures will be welcomed by many. I am ready, but hope I get everything in order for the maple syrup season..pretty darn quick!
I have to move some animals around in the barn. There is plenty of straw stored there, it is just a bit out-of-the-way at the moment. It won’t make feed, but it sure makes a nice warm bed.
In the old days, people slept in mattresses stuffed with straw, called straw ticks. I guess it’s better than nothing, but I don’t think that pokey thing would have been anywhere near as good to sleep in as a feather tick! I know, I have slept in a feather tick, made by my great grandma.
February 5, 2014
The snow storm has us in its grip as I write. Schools are closed and the roads are pretty bad. The snow is falling at a rate of an inch an hour. I’m waiting to dig us out once it lets up. It is pretty. All that snow makes for a big white blanket, covering the landscape.
The wind is out of the north and blowing snow and pellets of ice. It is not a great day for working outside. I have a few projects to keep me busy. There is much cleaning to do to make ready for the maple syrup season. I will start today on that job… all of the tree spiles need cleaned…1200, to be washed, rinsed and dried.
We plan to tap in less than three weeks. All of us are getting excited, especially me I love that time of year, the job and all the family time. The horses are ready to go … now we just need the weather to work with us.
Chores, a little writing and my spile cleaning job, will fill my day. Then I can work a while digging out from this storm. Man, it is so good to be busy! There is no such thing as boredom here….so , like the song says, “Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”
February 4, 2014
I don’t think there is any place I’d rather be than … home. I snapped this picture of a small bird, all fluffed up, safe and warm, hidden in the bush. The bird flew the coop as the camera flashed… much like teenagers leaving the nest!
I am getting ready for another winter storm. I’m making the animals as comfortable as possible. The cold may stay away some this time, but the snow is expected to pile up. I hope to be snug in the house tomorrow, working on a few writing projects and researching a few more. Sure, I’ll do the chores and check on my animals, but I plan to stay indoors, watching the storm out the window
Once my chores are done for the evening, I walk towards the house at the end of my work day, the soft glow from the house lights on the evening shadows, beckons me and fills my heart with joy. The smell of supper fills my nostrils as the warmth from the furnace feels good on my face. A house full of love is a home…and mine sure is
They say, when we die, a bright light will lead us. I don’t know if that is true, but I do understand why we refer to Heaven…as Home!
February 3, 2013
Freezing rain, followed by snow created this pretty picture yesterday morning. It was beautiful to see. The bee log rests in a sort of alcove in the white pines on the edge of the back pasture. The winds are less in that protected place. I hope the bee gals are all safe and doing well. I will know for sure in spring.
The weathermen are all a buzz about a new winter storm bearing down on us. The storm is supposed to slam us starting tomorrow, late afternoon. I will get hay bales moved, pens cleaned and bedded, in preperation for our next winter blast. I, the guy who loves winter, am starting to tire of the constant cold and ice … not enough to ever move, just enough to whine a little bit
Our drive is still an ice slick. I managed to fall and crack my elbow this morning. It was a humbling experience, made a little better because no one saw me do it. I do have a goose egg on my arm and a small bruise on my ego. I used to bounce much better than I did this morning.
Chores keep me busy this time of year as we ride out the winter. Feeding and taking care of the animals does take up a bit of my day, but it is a nice time, unhurried and full of gratification. It is almost restful as all of us are a bit lazy. We eat more, rest more and take a little more time out for things like looking at a beautiful morning landscape… so it’s not all bad!