Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Mud Season has arrived
I never knew what anyone meant by mud season when I lived in New Jersey. Even in eastern Massachusetts it wasn't that bad. But here on the farm, it is another story. The color of the month is brown, brown, brown. Messy mud is everywhere. We live on a dirt road and most times of the year it is totally quaint and scenic. At this time of year though it can be a challenge to get home through the ruts. I have gotten used to it. I know where to watch out, go slowly and carefully. Choice of footwear is all important. I love my leather Australian Blundstone boots - my feet are never wet even though they are always walking around in wetness of some form or another.
I drive one of those awful SUV's - an Isuzu Rodeo. Actually it is small by SUV standards, but it does go through the gas worse than my old VW Golf (loved that car). Honestly, I can't imagine living here without it. It is high enough to not get stuck in the mud in that famous sink hole in the middle of the last big hill to our house. At all times of the year, it is covered with a brown haze over its lovely dark green base. As far as I can tell, there is never a good time to clean it as it will be dirty by the next time I go to town.
The scene I am showing here is one of the delights of mud season in New England. Our neighbors harvest sap from all the maple trees on our road. I love to see the sap buckets go up. When you walk by, if the sap is running good, you can hear the ping, ping, ping or the plop, plop, plunk of the sap dripping into the bucket. I love the color of the galvanized steel buckets and the tradition of the gathering of the sap. Our neighbors aren't "boiling" this year - they sell their sap to the Williams Farm in Deerfield. It is more efficient for them and at least it gets harvested.
For a few years after we moved here, we made our own syrup. It was a big job. We bought a smallish boiling pan and built a funky cement block temporary support to set it on. Then Mark boiled and boiled and boiled for days. He made some pretty flavourful syrup and we cleaned up the yard better than it has been cleaned in a while. But since Julia was diagnosed with diabetes, the fun of boiling has disappeared. Now we live vicariously through all the sap buckets.
Many farmers are now using "pipeline" to harvest their sap. Our neighbors are too in some areas of their farm. This is the huge plastic jug that collects the sap from several trees. You can see the size of it by comparing it to our dogs. It isn't nearly as romantic - there is no ping, ping, ping - but as with all life in 2007, everything is getting faster and more efficient. I'm glad though that they haven't converted all their trees to pipeline.