Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saturday snow storm and Sunday maple sugaring

Snowy sunrise in the pastures
This is what we woke to Saturday morning, another 3-4 inches of snow. Just Thursday, it had been almost 70 F and here we were, with snow. That's March--fickle! It was a lovely drive out to the barn despite the lack of plowing. I think the town highway department decided it wasn't enough to warrant plowing. So they dribbled salt in the middle, creating slush-filled icy trenches and left the rest of the macadam unplowed. There was some white-knuckling up to the barn, but by the afternoon, the roads were, indeed, bare.

Sunday's plan was to get a permit to burn a brush pile in one of the pastures. We also needed to boil down gallons of sap for maple syrup. And we hoped to squeeze in a ride. To expedite things, John decided to take the sap over to the barn where he rigged up a "sap drip system" that kept a rolling boil and a continuous flow into our "evaporator" pot.  While this was going on, we had a bonfire going that needed our attention due to the constant wind. Plus we did some spring cleaning at the barn. Grain bags were baled up for our local dealer (anniversary gala with deals on grain when you bring in bags!), the loft was swept out, and lumber located for fixing more fencing. Harley, my cribber, always finds the soft, rotted boards to hook his teeth on.
Portable pickup sugar shack
Rolex Girl received a much needed bath and Ruffy got a partial dunking. Harley missed out due to the late hour and only two coolers for three horses. Once the girls were done with their visits to the spa, we put them inside for a snack then ambled down to check the fire. Now just a smoldering pile of ash and some soggy logs, we took a break and watched the season's first bluebirds hopping down from the fence for spring snacks.

Once Rolex was dry, we decided we still had enough daylight for a short ride. John wanted to try the trail beyond the ring area. We saw a red-shouldered hawk lurking by the pond, probably hoping to snack on a duckling.  Mama wood duck paddled around with two ducklings behind her, seemingly oblivious to the hawk. Once we rode by, the hawk flew up into the trees. Snow still covered the trail in the woods, especially where the hemlocks grow tightly together. At one point, Harley had to nose his way through dense hemlock saplings. Rolex wasn't having any of that--Harley disappeared on her! So we turned back, trotted back to the ring area, and both horses broke into a canter. Harley wanted to really go, but I held him back as he performed a sideways canter and tossed his head. They both felt really good, so we decided to go down the road to Orris Falls and dip their feet in the brook. Harley took a look, but went forward, Rolex too, with further urging. Not bad for horses that haven't been ridden in two weeks.

We got back to the barn as the sun was setting--7 p.m. Harley and Rolex finished their dinners and everyone got blanketed for the night. We packed up the portable sugar shack, shut the barn and headed for home to finish off the sap and have some dinner.

Tomorrow promises to be another fine warm day for riding, and maybe a bath for Mr. Muddypants!


  1. You are so indutrious up there! I guess you have to be living where you do! I love that you are actually sugaring yourself. I am surrounded by farms that do it, and LOVE to see all the buckets out in the srping--a real and true sign of spring. Reading your blog makes me feel that you live in a very special place, surrounded by horses and maple trees and other gorgeous creatures.

    1. Here's some irony for you--my library has a DVD on maple sugaring produced by the Mass. Maple something or other Assoc. and most of it is filmed in YOUR neck of the woods--Ashfield! Being a children's librarian, I love that it is mostly kids involved in the sugaring process in the documentary.
      Taps need to come out soon--too warm now! But we're still boiling it down, finally getting to the sweet stuff--yum!


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