We’ve pulled the taps from the sugar maples, cleaned up the evaporator, and the sugaring season is over at The Farm School. Looking ahead at the weather forecast, it seems like we might see the return of winter, and sugaring weather, with Saturday night forecast to be 14 degrees, but things got so summery around here last week that we decided to end the season. It was a great season, considering the crazy weather, thanks mostly to the dedication of intrepid second year Maggie’s man-about-town Bennet, his fearless sidekick (and PVS Program Director Rafe), and their supervisor Stephanie. We made 25 gallons of beautiful syrup by the end, right around our yearly average.
The pastures are greening up a bit, about a month earlier than I’ve ever seen around here. Spring flowers are coming up, ticks are definitely back in action, and the song-birds are going crazy. I saw earthworms up lying on the surface of the ground in the rain at dawn on Tuesday, a sure sign that the soil temperatures are rising. The visiting students are back playing basketball behind the Bunkhouse, mastering the intricacies of The Farm School’s leaning hoop and gravel court, and leading huge games of ‘knock-out.’
Firewood work has finished up successfully, and the adult students are now prepping for the planting and grazing season full time. We are installing quite a bit of high-tensile fence around the farm this spring, as well as remaking some road ways, stonewalls, and other infrastructure. Students are also cutting back brush around all of our veggie fields to allow more sun onto the fields as well as easing navigation around the farm. All of this work typically has to wait until April, or sometimes even May, or sometimes not at all, and it feels great to spend time getting after things that so often get deferred. We’ve even tried to spread a little manure already, though the pasture seem a bit wet still for that.
Late in the winter, the Bunkhouse kitchen, the heart of the Program for Visiting Students, got a bit of an upgrade with the installation of a hood over the stove and the addition of a large griddle. Our master lunch-ladies, Cristina and Eliza, now have the freedom to unleash the full power of their
endless creativity, and years of culinary school training, safe in the knowledge that any smoke is getting sucked right out of the building. The griddle has also opened the door to some radical cooking, from pancakes every day to fried rice perfection.
Another big improvement The Farm School is enjoying, although the finishing touches are still being worked out, is a real garage/auto-shop at the Maggie’s Farm complex. Josh B, and several generations of adult students, rescued the poll barn from being tipped over by plate-tectonics, rehabbed the back end, insulated, poured cement, installed heat and lights, and have made a great place to pull in a farm truck or tractor for service. I’ll go take pictures of that space and get a full report from Josh for next week’s episode.