25 March 2012

Once Upon a Time There Was a Winter

My name is Millie.  Pay attention to me!  All the time. Now.

It has been a strange winter so far in Maine.  There was not too much snow, only one really cold stretch, and quite a bit of mud.  Many farmers I have talked to have expressed some concern about the coming season and how it may be dry because the snow cover, and thus water, will evaporate early, requiring more irrigation this summer.  Most people probably have already dismissed winter as over and done with, and are happy to look forward to warmer weather.  I admit that in the past I would have felt the same way.

Millie: This is what it should look like in Maine in March.  Now let me smell you.

However, with nature (and everything in life) balance is essential.  We continue to see extremes in weather and climate because we are testing the earth's limits as a closed system.  Like a drop in a bucket of water, our energy use a.k.a. release of energy in the form of heat, our use of fossil fuels has caused a spike in average temperature causing the water's surface to move down.  In an attempt to restore equilibrium, the earth's atmosphere is trying to rebound in the other direction, then the other, then the other until it is almost at rest.

The warm weather is messing with farmers and it's messing with maple sugaring.  There has not been a consistent flow of sap from the trees at Mitchell and Savage Farm.  The sap has also been darker than in the past from what Mitch tells me.  The cutting short of the season by warm weather has significantly reduced the amount of syrup that can be made considering that 40 gallons of sap on average are needed to boil down to one gallon of syrup and a tree can produce at least a half gallon of syrup on a good day (20 at night and 40 high during the day).

Sap season is likely coming to a close if it hasn't already.  On the bright side, I have had a wonderful experience with Mitch and Penny helping collect sap with Dick, Dock, and sometimes Belle.  I also learned a lot about boiling sap and a bit of the science behind it.  They were gracious enough to let me drive the horses many times while collecting sap from stop to stop in their sugar bush.  I recognize the trust it takes to let another person drive your draft animals; especially large, 1700 pound beasts that can easily pull a tank/wagon that easily weighs a ton altogether.  It's hard to resist emphasizing the power of a pair of horses and the thrill and beauty of working together to harness their abilities and mesh their personalities with yours in the process.  I truly want to thank Mitch and Penny for the opportunity to work with them and their "haases."

These, however, are Jeff and Amy's horses.

I also happened to show up at Buckwheat Blossom Farm to drop a few things off after an invigorating bike ride and ended up helping them with the sheep shearing process which included keeping track of all the little lambs and giving the adults booster vaccines.  I'll be working at New Beat Farm in a week helping with seedling work, making soil blocks, moving the wall tent platform, and when the soil is drier, plowing with the horses!  My excitement can hardly be contained.  I am, pun intended, chomping at the bit to work with Ken, Adrienne, Lauren, Rachel, Kate, and the horses Molly, Jewel, and Pete this season.  Time for some good, ol' fashioned faahm building!

Peace, Love, and Head Cheese!

Hi! I'm a lamb!
He's only 7.5 pounds!
"Our model citizen is a sophisticate who before puberty understands how to produce a baby, but who at the age of thirty will not know how to produce a potato"
-Wendell Berry

1 comment:

  1. good luck at the new farm. i'll pass on the head cheese, though :)