The winter of 2001-2002 was really mild, without a lot of snow, and almost no freezing rain or sleet. In spite of the relative lack of snow, the rentals were booked for ski season visitors to the nearby Berkshire East Ski Resort.
Over the course of a few weeks, Jeremy Clark and Bill worked to put a floor in a part of the hay barn where none had previously been. Originally, the barn was used to store loose hay, so a floor was not necessary. Since we put in bales, and we can always use storage space, the new floor is a great addition. We built it from heavy native hemlock timbers and planks milled by Norman and Jeffery Hicks of the nearby Hicks Farm and Sawmill.
We recently had Mirabelle and Gita checked for pregnancy, and they are both bred back to Leik. Still no luck in getting Oona or Ilsa bred, but we'll keep trying. Our other stallion (Ring) has had "marefriends" visiting for breeding, and we recently learned that one of them (the mare Bella, owned by Marcy Baer and Susan Cook of Vermont) has been confirmed to be pregnant. This is wonderful news, as Bella has been difficult to get bred previously.
Not much new to report, except that the blackfly season seems to be in high gear, and we've received a lot of rain. Summer vacation rentals are picking up, and it looks like it'll be a big year for wild blackberries and raspberries. We've spent a lot of time working on fencing and finishing sugaring cleanup (washing and putting away many miles of tubing). We're pleased that Kimberly Orzakowski and Jeremy Clark are now working for us part time. Kimberly is a mom of 2 in her early thirties, who has lots of farm experience, and Jeremy is a high school student soon to turn 18.
After spending a lot of time slogging through the snow setting up for sugaring, the season arrived in earnest in early march. Unfortunately, the initial good sap flows were followed by a period of weather that was just a little too warm to be ideal. Ideal sap flow conditions are night time temperatures in the mid 20's and daytime highs in the high 30's to low 40's. This year, the problem was not so much too warm daytime temperatures, but nighttime ones that just barely hit freezing.
Although night time air temperatures still are making it down into the single digits, teens and twenties, the sun gets higher in the sky every day and the days get longer as spring approaches the Berkshires. We still have 2+ feet of beautiful powder snow all over the fields and in the woods: just perfect for snow shoeing or X-C skiing.