08 March 2012


I am officially not an apprentice for a month.  Then I will be again in April.  The yurt was cleaned and moved out of by Monday afternoon, ending my first apprenticeship.  For a glimpse of it, you need only read any of my past updates.  In an attempt to avoid a year-end summary, I will look to the future.  I've learned so much and cannot properly address my gratitude to Buckwheat Blossom Farm for taking me on for the year.  The opportunity to learn so much, from logging and tillage with horses and growing vegetables, to raising pastured and woods-raised chickens, cattle, sheep, and pigs, was a proverbial alignment of the stars.

Throughout my time here I've had the chance to meet tons of new, cool people related to agriculture and the variously related craftspeople that a farmer/grower depend on to keep their farm running.  I've found, at least personally, that the more people you know in the field, the better.  You don't know what might come up, what kind of equipment might need repair and the skills you might have to trade for in order to get them repaired.  I've been feebly attempting to improve and diversify my skill-set, and therefore, my opportunities for energy and economic self-sufficiency by participating in as many things as I can while apprenticing and in the coming month.

Yesterday I began sugaring at Mitchell and Savage Maple Farm where they use horses to haul a BIG 200 gallon tank around their woodlot to collect buckets of sap.  We were hoping it would be a good sap day because the temperature was close to the ideal range of 20 degrees at night and 40 degrees daytime.  It turns out it wasn't really, but that the sap was about three times sweeter than it typically would be.  This was probably due to Mitch having dumped the ice that froze in the buckets, thereby concentrating the sap that remained.  

Though we only got 50 gallons of sap that was the equivalent of almost 150 gallons of "regular" sap, it was a beautiful day to be out with the horses in the woods.  I worked up a bit of a sweat walking around in the snow with buckets and got to see part of the sap-making process.  It involved a lot of tubes, gravity feeding, and water.  I spent about 4 hours chatting and helping boil sap even though Mitch didn't need the help.  We (including Penny) got to know each other a little bit better talking about everything and anything from politics to horse equipment to the show "Breaking Bad." I easily could have spent the whole night there hanging out, talking, feeding the wood fire, pouring sap, drinking a few beers, and eating popcorn.  In the future I just may do that.  I'm blessed to have met Mitch and Penny and eagerly look forward to the rest of the sugaring season and meeting their son Caleb later this week.

In a month, I'll be heading over to New Beat Farm learning to do lots of new stuff that are almost too numerous to count.  I'll be learning to hay, grow some small grains and beans, do some more walking plowing, single horse work in general, and of course lots of other horse tillage.  Ken and Adrienne also have a different growing system which will be a whole new thing to learn as well.  I'll hopefully also learn a thing or two about repairing horse equipment.  They just got a new horse to make 3 total and his name is Pete.  He's in great shape and I'll be excited to get to know all the horses.

Oh, yeah!  Kate and I will also be raising 8 pigs this summer and marketing them by the half.  I know some of my New York friends are interested and if we have trouble selling them, I will let you know.  Our hope is to try to remain as local as possible.  For those of you in NYC that really want to participate in this kind of meat purchase, visit your local farmers market (there are tons in NYC) and get to know the farmers there.  Otherwise I can help you try to find a person selling pigs by the half or whole.  We have 3.5 pigs left to sell as of today so let me know if you have any interest.  The pigs will be ready at the beginning of October.   Everyone needs to bother me about pictures so I'll be better at including things I'm doing.  Anyways, more sugaring (after a mini-vacation to Portsmouth) is at hand in the coming weeks.  Thank you everyone for reading!

"We Americans are not usually thought to be a submissive people, but of course we are. Why else would we allow our country to be destroyed? Why else would we be rewarding its destroyers? Why else would we all — by proxies we have given to greedy corporations and corrupt politicians — be participating in its destruction? Most of us are still too sane to piss in our own cistern, but we allow others to do so and we reward them for it. We reward them so well, in fact, that those who piss in our cistern are wealthier than the rest of us.
How do we submit? By not being radical enough. Or by not being thorough enough, which is the same thing."
-Wendell Berry

1 comment:

  1. I love your blog Rich! I feel like I'm a city boy turned make-believe farmer in my head.