It was a fun trip to the Schumacher’s farm to glimpse the annual rite of spring called maple Weekend. Their farm straddles the county line, with the sugar bush in Niagara County and the farm and syrup operations in Orleans County, but we claim them as Barker folk! You’ll find them at our Farmer’s market in the village park during harvest season. On Saturday, the familiar hoses on the trees were draining the sweet sap into buckets and the billowing clouds of steam from the sugar shack carried the scent of wood smoke and sweet maple. The old-fashioned wood-evaporator in the shack takes lots of wood to keep the fire burning and the sap boiling. If you have never seen the process, it is indeed fascinating for those of us used to getting our syrup off a supermarket shelf.
It takes forty gallons of sap and lots of wood and patience to make one gallon of pure maple syrup and once you’ve tasted the real deal, you’ll know it’s all worth it! Kathy and Bob have a web presence now (linked to the left) and you can even listen to them talk about farm life in their podcasts. It is truly an amazing thing to be able to sample nature’s best (okay, I admit I got a pancake-wrapped-sausage-on-a-stick to dunk into the syrup). Sandy Harvey was there with her uniquely crafted birdhouses and wood work (and her popcorn machine), and Cindy Chapman had her homemade goat milk soaps for sale. I left with a dozen fresh-from-the-henhouse eggs and the assorted nieces and nephews got to visit the big turkey, the rabbit, the chickens, some goats, ducks, a baby cow and Elijah the horse. It was a chilly day, perfect for syrup, but the blue-sky was a reminder that spring will soon behere to stay.
On the way home I thought of people who never get to spend a day in the country and I said a silent prayer of thanks for the privilege!