Aunt Eunice here. I hope you are all healthy as a farm’s work horse and doing well. Here on the farm we are busy with workshops, planning for spring, and preparing for Preschool registration which is always a hectic few days. The farmer was very excited as his vegetables seeds came in the mail last week. He and the retired farm manager can’t wait to get in the garden to plant them. I swear, every gardeners favorite times are planting and harvesting! Not much to harvest on a farm this time of year, right? Well, there are a couple of things around here you can only harvest in the winter. That would be ice and maple sap.
The farmer has been checking the thickness of the pond’s ice and we are about halfway to a safe number of inches (9 to 11″) that will allow us to go out on it and start cutting blocks. It’s a fun day on the farm and one of Quiet Valley’s member benefits. Members can come out and learn about the process. They can also lend a hand cutting the blocks with an ice saw, pulling the blocks into shore with a pike or carrying them to the horse-drawn sled with a pair of ice tongs. The pond is out a ways from the farm so try to hitch a ride on the sled as the horses pull it back out. If you want you can grab a ride back in, but then you will be sitting on a block of ice for a seat! The cutters will surround the opening they made in the ice with some of the blocks to make a “fence” around the open water. This a precaution for the unwary or younger set who are welcome to go skating on the other half of the pond. If there is enough snow on the ground folks bring their sleds along and ride down the hill behind the gift shop. It’s a nice long ride. Just remember it’s a nice long walk back up the hill. That winter activity is meant for younger legs than Aunt Eunice’s! Too bad, as I always loved sleigh riding and was the last one to come inside, not until I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes anymore!! I hope we can have our Ice Harvest this weekend. With the warmer climate we have been having the last decade or so there isn’t always an ice harvest. At one time ice was a sizeable industry in the Poconos. After the train came through in the 1850s blocks of ice were shipped to eastern cities like New York and Philadelphia to use for refrigeration.
I am keeping my fingers crossed. It is a cold, but fun day and everyone gets a cup of homemade soup and bread along with a hot beverage and cookies. If you want to get notice of whether we are holding it or not and aren’t a member join Quiet Valley in the next day or two and ask to be put on the email list.
The other item we harvest in winter is maple sap once it starts running which can be anywhere from late February into March. The nights need to be below freezing and the days above forty degrees. This is the beginning of the process to get maple syrup. But that’s a story for another day. Maple Syrup Day is also a Quiet Valley member benefit and you will learn the process and get to try homemade pancakes with last year’s syrup just for a start.
That’s all for now. Take care of yourselves and each other. Talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice