We are hustling in a lot of directions all at once right now, trying to get ready for what promises to be a very busy year for Old School Farm.
So far we have produced about 6 quarts of "kettle" syrup and expect to make quite a bit more. Keep in mind it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. So we have really only cooked down about 60 gallons of sap so far! Next year we will be setting up a large stainless steel evaporator pan so we can spread the sap out over a much larger surface area and cook it down much faster. We need to cook down as much as we can as fast as we can now, for if it sits too long it begins to ferment! Here is a short video clip showing the sap flowing into our kettle via the syphon/gravity feed line: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TzXCULWIwGM&feature=youtu.be
Our chickens are averaging close to an egg a day and we are giving them away as fast as we can. So far finding regular customers for our free range organic eggs has proved challenging. We hope some area restaurants soon begin ordering, as we distributed some samples recently. Our flock is now up to 27 birds since we acquired some speckled sussex hens from a farmer friend.
Our barn will soon be wired with electricity and plumbed with water - we are finalizing our contractor selections now. A small food prep. area will then take shape in one corner of the barn near the earthen oven. We will be prepping food for our Family Farm Getaways and summer workshops for area summer campers from this location.
Al and his sons Owen and Coleman recently took a 1.25 hour drive north to Binghampton to visit their friend Mary Thomas - now 95. As you may recall, Mary was one of four children who grew up in the Walter homestead that the Benners now own. It was a great visit - Mary treated the Benners to lunch in the dining room
Back to the farm... Seeds are sprouting under the high pressure sodium grow light. The hay/farm tour wagon that Dave has been
working on for several days now is nearing completion, with the hemlock decking going down. All that remains to do is to build the sides. This is one heavy duty wagon! Owen and Coleman can't stop talking about all their plans for a haunted hay ride come fall...
Our four ewes all appear to be very pregnant. We are anticipating the births of several lambs sometime this month - it's very exciting! Congratulations to our young and very friendly ram, Uncas for making good use of all his free time this past fall!
Thanks to our neighbors Jim and Pat Sanders for all the firewood we have been getting from their property and for the four bluebird nesting boxes that Jim so kindly set up for us on our fence posts around the garden. These are essentially predator-proof, as they are installed above an electric fence.
We have an awful lot going on, but spring is in the air and it is all very exciting. We even have a new sign for the farm - made by local artist, Joe Kluck. Joe has also put some of his artwork on consignment at Old School Farm for guests to enjoy (and possibly purchase). You can see some of Joe's art here: http://joekluck.blogspot.com/
Joe will also be on hand May 19th at the farm for the first Family Farm Getaway to offer a beginner's painter workshop. Sign up here for the workshop: http://www.oldschoolfarm.com/family-farm-getaways.html
Old School Farm will have a booth at www.PhillyFarmFest.org to promote our farm workshops and to display raised bed systems from www.BackyardFarmers.com Stop by and say hello if you happen to be at the show - it's at the Philadelphia Convention Center on Sunday, April 14th from 11 - 4.
Until next time, soak up that early spring sunshine and keep those seedlings moist...and enjoy the rest of the photos below...
Your Friends at Old School Farm
|Watercress transplanted into spring pond|
|Boys at Cooperage with Mike - guitar & vocals for Great Party Band|
|Coleman in "jail" for candy thievery|
|Great Party Band at the Cooperage|
|A quart of "Old School" Kettle Syrup|
|Al's friend Frank in from Chicago for a visit|
|Gravity sap line to 55 gallon drums. Six year old with maul.|
|Fresh sap - what could be better|
|A boy on his favorite moss covered boulder|
|Coyote scat with deer hair|
|One of four of Jim's Bluebird houses|
|A boy-size bonfire kept the little fellas entertained for two hours burning up scrap wood|
|The Sap Man, or is that Grizzly Adams?...|