Published by bill on Wed, 08/04/2010 - 15:40
Sugaring came early in 2010, matching a trend that we have noticed for many years of earlier and earlier sap flow. We were tapped early (by Feb 22), and were able to collect sap from those early runs. It’s fortunate that we did, because the season sort of petered out as we got further and further into March, the normal peak sugaring time. In spite of the odd season, syrup quality was good and we ended up with a decent year. Many other producers, especially those at lower elevations made only a fraction of their normal production.
In addition to finishing the ice storm clean up, we (Bill, Norma, Jubal Coli and Andy Earle) spent many, many hours completing a major upgrade of our farm fencing. Fortunately, we received federal disaster money that helped pay some of the costs of the clean up and the new fencing.
The absurdity with the local Board of Health claiming we run a Motel, continued into 2010. Finally, based on a February site inspection conducted by a representative of the Mass. Department of Public Health, the MDPH Deputy Counsel sided completely with us in saying that we do not need a permit or a license since we are renting single family homes. Unfortunately, the local Board of Health still has not agreed and recently sent us a notice that we need “to come into compliance.” Have you heard the one about the fellow that is 10 light bulbs short of a chandelier?
The Horse Show season was another productive one for Team Blue Heron, this year consisting of Margaret Williams, her younger sister Eleanor Williams and another young friend, Francesca Beckerle. The riders produced many Championship and Reserve Championship placings in both open shows and Gymkhanas. Another of our usual riders, Julia Horton, did not ride here this year as she is doing a one-year internship with the well-known former Olympian equestrienne Phyllis Howland of WyndChase Farm in Virginia. Julia brought her own horse down for training as well as Steinbjorn, our Fjord stallion. Steinbjorn really learned the ropes under Phyllis’ and Julia’s firm handling and entered his first show in August at which he did well. November saw one of our horse rider teams accepted to compete at the 2010 Equine Affaire Versatile horse and Rider Competition. Margaret William and LFF Tulie had a great qualifying round, and missed making the top ten and the finals by ½ a point. The arena crowd went wild in support of the Fjord! We were so pleased with Margaret and all the hard work she put in to be prepared. Although we realize that judging is subjective, we can’t help but feel that the judge placed her much lower than we thought was justified. We’re already making plans to try again next year.
This was also the year that our main farm vehicle, a 1995 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup, blew it’s 3rd transmission. After putting in yet another used trannie, we finally bit the bullet and bought another truck. This time it’s a 2005 Dodge 3500 (one ton) diesel dually. Although it has 200,000 miles on it, it had a brand new transmission, all new brakes and other work done to it before we took it home. It has turned out to be a great truck, consistently getting over 16 miles a gallon, and can really haul! This winter we have come to appreciate its heated seats.
After years of dealing with ice dams, broken slates and leaks, we decided to re-roof the farmhouse. Because of what this would have cost to hire done, Bill, Andy Earle and Jubal took on the job. Anyone who has visited here previously may remember that both the house and the ell had slate roofs. In reality, the slates were a relatively recent addition, having been added sometime in the 1930s to 1940s. A photo of the farmhouse and ell we have from 1908 shows a well-weathered cedar roof at that time that probably went on in the late 1800s. Our original plan was to remove both the slates and the cedar, make any needed repairs to the roof boards, add some insulation and re-lay the slates. However, once we got the slates off, we decided that we liked the look of the shingles, even in their badly weathered condition. So we went ahead with the repairs to the roof boards, laid down sheets of plywood bonded to one inch rigid foam insulation and topped that off with a rubberized material that adheres to the plywood, and then laid new, dipped red cedar shingles 5 ½ inches to the weather. We replaced the original tin roof cap with copper, and the result is no leaks, and no more ice dams.