July Flying By

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. I am sorry it’s been a while since I have written to you. With July arriving I have been busier than a farmer trying to catch a litter of rowdy piglets! Speaking of piglets, our sow Sweetie Pie had a litter of sixteen last month. Whew!! That is quite a large number as she only has the spigots to feed fourteen. She is a great mother though and all of them have thrived. Now that the babies are eating on their own and have grown a good amount  the majority have found homes at another farm. Last week our new heritage breed boar arrive at the farm. He was a bit shy about exiting the trailer into his new home, but with some coaxing (and food) he decided to enter the pig barn. Our sow Bertha was there to greet him and they have become good companions. We have named the boar Max and he is a fine fellow. It has been hard to get a good picture of him as he is in love with his mud wallow so that is where you can find him most of the time. Max is a Gloucester Old Spot breed.

The new draft horses Jenny and Judy have settled in nicely as well. They did not come to us as a team, but they are working very well together. They are so similar looking that they seem like sisters. They are both Suffolk Punches. The other animals are all doing well and there are plenty of them for visitors to see. Our Corona Virus adapted tours are going well and folks can safely visit and learn about various chores and tasks done on the homestead in the 19th century. Last week was a very busy one with several extra demonstrations. There was a pottery highlight, a Spinning and Weaving Day, a Bread Baking Highlight, oats being harvested and Saturday was Music in the Valley. Several musician came out the the farm and played traditional music on dulcimers, fiddles and banjos. We appreciate the sharing of stories about music development in the United States along with their talent at playing the music. We even had a very entertaining puppet show. It was a great day.

This week will be another busy one with a Rye Straw Craft Day on Tuesday, Split Oak Basketry along with Quilting on Wednesday, Paper Crafts on Thursday and on Friday evening 7/24 a special fundraiser, an Ice Cream & Art Twilight Tour where folks can create some art work, enjoy homemade ice cream and visit two tour stops on the farm for special presentations. You can call the office for more info or to sign up, but hurry.

July has been plenty busy and August looks to be the same. I hope you will have an opportunity come visit us. We will appreciate your business and you will have fun and most likely learn something new. Nothing better than having fun while learning!

Well, that’s all for now folks. I hope you are staying healthy. Take care of each other. Thank you and see you soon. Aunt Eunice

Going Green on Summer Solstice

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. Quiet Valley is very excited as on June 19th Monroe County, PA moves into the Green Phase of the COVID-19 quarantine. This means we can open the gate and invite you in to visit the farm and learn about the past. Be assured we will be putting in place all social distancing measures that are needed. At this time that means staff, volunteers and visitors will be required to wear masks and stay six feet apart from other parties. There will be no more than 250 people on the farm at one time and at any one stop there will be 25 guests or less at a time.

We will be having a cautious, safety conscious  opening on summer solstice, June 20th,  with our Sheep to Shawl Fiber Arts Day. It runs from 10am to 3pm and admission will be $8 per adult and $4 for ages 3-12.  Watch as our sheep are sheared and the spinners and weavers take one of the fleeces and create a beautiful shawl. You can visit some of the farm animals whose wool, fur and hair are typically used in the fiber arts. The outdoor brick bake oven will be operating and selling freshly baked loaves of bread as a way to raise funds for Quiet Valley.

The following weekend on June 27th & 28th will be our Quiet Valley Flea Market Day from 9am to 3pm both days. There is no admission fee for this weekend. There will be several booths where you can shop for interesting collectibles. The Friends of Quiet Valley will have their Timeless Treasures tables full of beautiful linens and unique vintage items for your shopping pleasure. Heritage crafts made by local artisans will be available for purchase in the Quiet Valley Gift Shop. The bake oven will be in operation on Saturday and you may purchase tasty loaves of bread. A delicious way to raise funds for the farm museum.

On Saturday July 4th we will officially open for the summer tour season on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10am to 4pm and Sundays from noon to 4pm. The museum grounds will be open until 5pm. The 142nd Civil War Volunteer Co. G will be encamped on the farm 7/4 -7/5. On Saturday the 4th there will also be other activities like old fashioned children’s games, one room school presentations along with loaves of bread made in the outdoor bake oven for sale. Please check out our online Calendar of Events section to see the many other activities happening in addition to our historic tours.

We are so happy to be able to open the gates even in a more limited fashion than usual. Tours will be held with COVID-19 safety adjustments in place. Please be assured we will be doing everything in our power to keep our staff, volunteers and our visitors as safe as possible. We hope to see you soon. Keep up the good work in social distancing and smart practices like hand washing and wearing masks. It is working, but we still have a way to go yet. That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in. Aunt Eunice.

June in Yellow

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. I hope you are all doing well. Monroe County, PA, where Quiet Valley is located, has reached the Yellow Phase of the quarantine. We all hope nothing interferes with our progress to the Green Phase. One step at a time.

Now that June is here our thoughts at Quiet Valley generally turn toward our summer tour season. That is going to be different this year as gatherings like that are not able to happen quite yet. Fortunately we will be able to hold our camp groups for ages 6 through 14, with a limit of ten students per camp. Camps in each age group will have a different focus though all will be fun and the activities interesting. Part of the good times will involve the farm animals, heritage crafts and hikes through the 114 acres of the farm. If we move into the Green Phase modified historic farm tours will begin. We will be live steaming the sheep shearing that will take place on Saturday June 20th. If you have never seen it before it is an interesting process. Stay tuned.

June is also a time to celebrate the longest day of sunlight of the year, Summer Solstice. In 2020, the Summer Solstice is Saturday, June 20, at 5:44 P.M. EDT. This date marks the official beginning of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, occurring when Earth arrives at the point in its orbit where the North Pole is at its maximum tilt (about 23.5 degrees) toward the Sun, resulting in the longest day and shortest night of the calendar year. (By longest “day,” we mean the longest period of sunlight.) At the June solstice, the Northern Hemisphere receives sunlight at the most direct angle of the year. The first day of summer is said to be when the Sun reaches its highest point in the sky, which occurs on the summer solstice (June 20–22). Therefore, the summer solstice is considered to be the first day of summer, astronomically speaking. The summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere ranges in date from June 20 to 22. This occurs in part because of the difference between the Gregorian calendar system, which normally has 365 days, and the tropical year (how long it takes Earth to orbit the Sun once), which has about 365.242199 days. To compensate for the missing fraction of days, the Gregorian calendar adds a leap day every 4 years, which makes the date for summer jump backward. However, the date also changes because of other influences, such as the gravitational pull from the Moon and planets, as well as the slight wobble in Earth’s rotation. Visit almanac.com for more info.

Another special day is June 21st, Father’s Day. Many time celebrated with a cook out it is a time to focus on the patriarch of the family. Dads work hard to take care of their loved ones, teach manly skills like throwing a baseball, changing the oil in your car, mowing the lawn, grilling a perfect steak and so much more. Long gone are the days only father and son learned these skills together. Fathers and daughters also bond over many of the same learning experiences. If your father is still around make sure he knows how much he means to you.

According to Britannica.com  Father’s Day, in the United States, is celebrated on the third Sunday in June, to honor fathers. Credit for originating the holiday is generally given to Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington, whose father, a Civil War veteran, raised her and her five siblings after their mother died in childbirth. She is said to have had the idea in 1909 while listening to a sermon on Mother’s Day, which at the time was becoming established as a holiday. Local religious leaders supported the idea, and the first Father’s Day was celebrated on June 19, 1910, the month of the birthday of Dodd’s father. In 1924 President Calvin Coolidge gave his support to the observance, and in 1966 President Lyndon B. Johnson officially proclaimed it a national holiday. Observance on the third Sunday of June was decreed by law in 1972.

As the summer season gets ready to kick off remember social distancing is still very important. Keep wearing masks when out and about and wash hands regularly. We are all tired of it all, but it will truly help us get past this pandemic. Well, that’s all for now. Take care and stay safe. Aunt Eunice


Creative Spirits

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. I pray today finds you doing well and in good health. I have heard many discussions on the news and from telephone conversations with coworkers and family that changes are coming soon as to who can go out into the wide world. I hope the powers that be are making judicious and thoughtful decision about loosening the reins on social contact. Caution should be our watch word. Hopefully this is the sign for which we have been waiting and praying.

I have been so interested during our seclusion in all the efforts of people to stay connected and to entertain themselves and others. Videos being one of the major way to make this happen. Everyone from famous actors and musicians to your next door neighbor have jumped on the band wagon. It’s wonderful to see the creative spirit of the human race with videos of everything from toboggan slides down stairways to songs and crafts and cooking. Bravo! It is good for the soul to have the truly good laugh that some of these videos bring.

Quiet Valley has been sharing videos, too, each Friday. The content varies and we hope you both enjoy them and learn something interesting. We are trying to stay connected to the outside world while the actual farm museum is closed. This Friday’s video should be on weaving which is always a very popular subject. As summer approaches and the gates to the farm are finally open you can come out and see many of the video subjects taking place right before your eyes. On Quiet Valley’s website there is a Calendar of Events section that  lists summer events and highlights. Be sure to check it regularly as Highlights will be added for the next month or so. At some point Aunt Eunice will be demonstrating Rag Doll Making and also teaching folks about Pantry Staples such as eggs, sugar, butter and salt.

That’s all for now, folks. We appreciate you checking in with us. Stay safe and I will talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice

Patience is a Virtue…

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice checking in and praying you are well. As our enforced time at home continues I find my patience is getting thin. There is an old verse that goes “Patience is a virtue, find it if you can, seldom in a woman and never in a man”. I believe it is truly important though to “stay the course” and keep up the social distancing, but sometimes the “collar chafes”! Being inside on these rainy days we have been having has me “chomping at the bit” to get some fresh air. Yesterday I walked with my umbrella. Several days ago I watched through the window as a large pond formed in my back yard. It is still an oversized mud pit! It has a bear’s footprints in it and I am sure he must be the guilty party in the garbage can incident!! These days it can feel like you are under house arrest being home bound as we are, especially if weather keeps you cooped up. I have been taking the time since I have it to go through old paperwork. I found a number of my mother’s old journals. I am not sure if it is because she was from the south or if it was a generational thing, but her writing and her conversations were always laced with sayings. It was the same for the early settlers who had a saying for most every occasion or circumstance. It was a way of teaching  as most folk phrases had a “moral to the story” or a message to make a point. Some sayings had to be simple colloquialisms. My mother and her sisters had lots of sayings about water and bridges such as “weights what broke the bridge” in reference to their children saying “Wait a minute” when called by a parent. My mother was not one to get in a tizzy about things. It took a lot to “ruffle her feathers”. She believed it was a matter of “water over the dam” or “under a bridge”. I wish I had more of her calm affability right now.

Some folk phrases like “Angels weep when women whistle” could have discouraged girls from becoming whistlers which was not considered appropriate for young ladies. “A stitch in time saves nine” was a way to teach that a problem should be tackled while it is small rather than when it gets bigger, which is almost always what happens. Some sayings like “it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans” may seem of little use to us. Back in the day though everyone knew whether you were talking about a subject in a size sense or monetary one a hill of beans wasn’t worth much. On the farm there would be animal sayings like “madder than a wet hen. Have you ever seen a wet hen? If so, you know it is very mad indeed. “‘Til the cows come home” means settle in, because whatever we’re talking about or doing is going to take awhile. Cows aren’t known for their speed. A farmer might tell his son ” don’t buy a pig in a poke” as a way to teach him to get a good look at an animal before purchasing it. It’s hard to really see an animal enclosed in a small pen. It was also a message saying be sure what you’re getting into before you commit. “A new broom sweeps clean” may be a reference to a person with a fresh perspective clearing the air. I do find a new broom really does sweep cleaner than my old one. I love getting a new broom, especially an old fashioned one made from broom corn.

Broom Corn
Henry David Thoreau once said “Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed in them.” I believe he was referring to what I say is “our houses are so much to take care of and take up so much of our time that the house owns us rather than the other way around”.  My frustration with being sequestered may sometimes make my house seem like a prison, but I know it is truly a haven. A place to be safe, helping us keep others safe, doing my part to contain this dangerous virus. I am sharing quality time with family, getting my work done from home, accomplishing odd jobs I’ve been meaning to get to. I pray for those on the front line, those who are out of work, those without the necessities they need, those suffering from the virus and those grieving over the loss of a loved one.

I hope we can all find a way to accept our confinement with grace, with patience for what steps are needed to get us to the other side of the pandemic. Take care, my friends, and stay safe. Talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice

Roll with the Changes & Let the Good Times Roll

Hello Folks,
Aunt Eunice here. I am hoping everyone is in a healthy state. I am sure many of you are still at home as I am. My middle daughter and I are able to work from home though I miss the farm at Quiet Valley. It is lovely to watch spring develop across the landscape. Many trees like wild cherry and crab apple will soon be blossoming. Winter aconite and snowdrops were making a great showing before I left the farm. I am watching our weekly videos on YouTube about gardening and see that they are preparing the soil and planting cool weather crops at Quiet Valley. I think I am jealous!

As many organizations have had to do, Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm has had to make some changes to the schedule, come up with additional fundraising efforts and in general roll with the changes. Flexibility is key. As no one really knows when the good times will roll again (we pray for hot spots like Louisiana) we are making decisions using a prudent timeline. We have lost our spring revenue, a big portion of our budget, and don’t want to give up our first fundraiser of the year, Farm Animal Frolic, usually held in May. A fundraiser on the farm in May seems optimistic which I usually am. Better to be sure that we will have the all clear . With that in mind we have pushed Farm Animal Frolic to our opening weekend of summer tour season. So on June 20th and 21st we will be having a one weekend Frolic so everyone can come see the baby animals, help support the farm museum, take the historic tour and as a bonus enjoy our annual Summer Garden Party. That is the plan as it stands at this moment. Stay tuned though for updates and fine tuning! The good times one way or the other will be rolling for sure.

I am praying for everyone’s wellbeing and please be safe. It is frustrating to be limited in what we can do and where we can go, but if we do the smart things and the hard things now the sooner we will defeat this dangerous virus. Fight the good fight and roll with the changes. I will be thinking of you.

That’s all for now. Take care and talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice

Hard Times….We’ve Survived Them Before

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. I am praying everyone is doing well during these hard times we are currently going through. It can be scary, but I hope you are keeping your spirits up. Over the years the population of Earth has survived many pandemics and mass illnesses such as Small Pox.

According to Wikipedia 1947_smallpox_outbreak The 1947 New York City smallpox outbreak occurred in March, 1947 and was declared ended on April 24, 1947. The outbreak marked two milestones for America. First, it was the largest mass vaccination effort ever conducted for smallpox in America, and second, it marked the last outbreak of smallpox in America. Within three weeks of the discovery of the outbreak, the U.S. Public Health Service, in conjunction with New York City health officials, had procured vaccine and inoculated over 6,350,000 adults and children. Of that number, 5,000,000 had been vaccinated within the first two weeks. The rapid response was credited with limiting the outbreak to 12 people, 10 of whom recovered, while 2 died.

Hopefully our scientists can come up with a vaccine in the near future and we can be made safe from this latest, dangerous virus.

My family and I have appreciated peoples efforts to help us all have a laugh through social media posts. This meme shows Little Debbie (of snack food fame) on day one of quarantine and on day 14 of her quarantine. It has had me chuckling for two days. I am gaining my Freshman Fifteen a bit late in life as I am less active right now and as I come from a family that loves to bake and cook I have no shortage of calories at my disposal. I guess this is good at a time when groceries shelves are a bit emptier than usual and a trip to the store requires serious thought due to risks involved. It is nice to be able to make things from scratch. We always have flour, shortening, sugar, etc. in bulk quantities with a household of 11 to feed. In two weeks we have made everything from simple chocolate covered pretzels to Martha Stewart’s recipe for Grandma’s Chocolate Sugar Cookies, to homemade eclairs to last night’s cherry crumb pie. Dinners have consisted of items such as chicken picotta, beef stew, bar-b-que beef, some of the best fried chicken I have had since my Mom passed away to a full roast turkey dinner and homemade turkey pot pie using turkey leftovers. I have to admit it is comforting to be able to provide as much as possible and do as much as possible for yourself especially in times like these. It makes us feel more confident and capable of weathering “stormy seas”. Quiet Valley has been pondering things like this and thought perhaps folks would like to learn about what I am calling “Heritage Life Skills Relevant for Today”. We are planning a number of workshops over the summer and into fall to help teach folks some useful skills. We are also developing videos so you can watch from home. Our first one on gardening came out last week. Find it on YouTube. Learn about a variety of things like soap making, cooking, baking bread, how to raise chickens (it’s easier than you think) and grow your own vegetables!

As a non-profit educational corporation it is our mission to share the history and teach about life skills of rural Pennsylvania in the 19th century. We hope these workshop and video offerings will enrich your lives and offer you useful tools to help in both hard times and good ones, too.

That’s all for now and thanks for checking in. Be well and talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice

Hours Spent at Home

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here and sending a special greeting out hoping you are all doing well. I am a member of the “older” demographic that is especially susceptible to this new-fangled germ that is currently in our midst. I will begin working from home after today. I will be sad not to be on the farm regularly to see spring coming and watch the baby animals being born. I live in a lovely area though and will enjoy the signs of spring there. Pussy willows have already been out for a few weeks. My grandchildren and I picked a few branches to keep inside in a vase so we can touch the soft catkins from which I presume is where the plant gets its common name. The word ‘catkin’ is derived from the Dutch word for kitten.  In spring, these catkins certainly look like kittens’ paws or tails.

A true harbinger of spring, forsythia bursts into a vibrant display of golden blooms before any leaf foliage emerges. This can create stunning golden mounds throughout landscapes, breaking up the drab snow-covered ground with a promise of what’s to come. With newer varieties growing in smaller, more manageable sizes, every landscape should have a forsythia to break out of the late winter blues.

A member of the olive family, they are a reminder to me of my mother’s home that at one time had numerous forsythia bushes all about the property. They always make me smile as I remember with fondness my children mangling the pronunciation of the word forsythia. Along with their Aunt M, they decided my daughter Cynthia should be called Forcynthia. Whatever you call them and however you pronounce it they are a nice yellow harbinger of the warm sun of which we eagerly await as winter slowly loosens its grip.

Another splash of early yellow  comes from winter aconite flowers
According to the folks at Flowerexpert.com  winter-aconites appear almost overnight, providing a very welcome splash of color in January, often flowering with snowdrops. They have an underground corm, from which the yellow wild flowers and characteristic “frill” of leaves emerge, sometimes as early as Christmas. Aconites …………………………but they have naturalized in some woods and along driveways and verges. These wild flowers are related to buttercups.

At Quiet Valley they just popped out in the last week or two along with the ever pretty and delicate snow drops. No snow for them to push through this year.

I am hoping this latest virus will pass by quickly. I am keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers. Remember don’t shake hands, stay home if it’s feasible, cough into a tissue, wash your hands constantly and for 20 seconds each time. Be careful of knobs, handles, etc. I got tired of singing Happy Birthday while I wash my hands so have expanded my selection to “John Jacob Jingle Heimer Schmidt”, the ABCs which I sing with the grandkids, “The Old Grey Mare” and “God Bless America” which I think is longer than 20 seconds. Try to keep your spirits up and be patient and kind to others in need of help, supplies, etc.

That’s all for now. Take care and I will be talking to you soon. Aunt Eunice

More Daylight…What’s Not to Love

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. Saturday March 7th will begin Daylight Savings Time (technically it is really Sunday March 8th at 2:00 in the morning, but that has always seemed like it is still Saturday night to me!!).  According to CNNThere’s an age-old myth that Daylight Saving was a practice adopted to give farmers extra time in the sun to work out in the field. But, that’s not really why dozens of countries follow it.

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is a system to reduce electricity usage by extending daylight hours. For eight months out of the year, the US and dozens of other countries follow DST, and for the remaining four months, revert back to standard time in order to take full advantage of the sunlight.
On the second Sunday of March at 2 a.m., clocks move forward one hour. Then, on the first Sunday of November at 2 a.m., the clocks turn back an hour. A good way to remember it? The time shifts match the seasons: Clocks “spring” forward an hour in March and “fall” back in November.
In the summer months, the sun is out for longer periods of time, so you can rely on daylight to avoid switching lights on. The clocks revert back to standard time for the winter months so the sun can rise earlier and the world starts the day off with sunlight — otherwise some places wouldn’t see the sun come up until almost 8:30 a.m.
The current March-November system the US follows began in 2007, but the concept of “saving daylight” is much older. It’s debated who originally came up with the idea, but Benjamin Franklin appeared to have first mentioned it in 1784, when he wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of Paris.
But not everyone has opted to follow DST. Only 70 countries around the world “save daylight” every year. In the US, states are not required by law to follow DST — Hawaii and most of Arizona do not observe it. Other states — like Florida and California — are working to observe DST year-round (rather than just between March and November).
I will appreciate the daylight whenever it comes. I will have some light to take a walk in after I get home from the farm. You never know what you will find on a walk in my neck of the woods. There is plenty of wildlife like whitetail deer, squirrels galore, peregrine falcons, hawks, pileated woodpecker, blue heron, a multitude of other bird species, rabbits, chipmunks, fox, bear (no close encounters, fortunately), a fisher, a muskrat in the pond and much more. Sunsets can be particularly lovely. It is a quiet time after the rush and crush of a busy work day. Peaceful times such as that help foster creativity. This extended time of daylight will also allow some minutes to enjoy my lovely porch, a wonderful retreat especially on a rainy day. Swing on the hammock, curl up with a good book in the rocking chair or pull out one of the mats and stretch out for a cat nap. Whatever your preference is, revel in the daylight and the approach of spring.
That’s all for now, folks. Take care and talk to you soon. Aunt Eunice

Marching into March

Hello Folks,

Aunt Eunice here. February 2020 is a leap year. According to Chiff.com – A leap year is any year with 366 days instead of the usual 365 days. Therefore, leap day in 2020 will fall on Saturday, February 29th. So…why the extra day? It was the ancient Egyptians who first figured out that the solar year and the calendar year didn’t always match up. That’s because it actually takes the Earth a little longer than a year to travel around the Sun — 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds, to be exact. Therefore, as hours accumulated over the centuries, an extra day was occasionally added to the calendar, and over time the practice became more or less official. The Romans first designated February 29 as leap day, but a more precise formula (still in use today) was adopted in the 16th century when the Gregorian calendar fine-tuned the calculations to include a leap day in years only divisible by four – 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, etc.

Besides being a Leap Year February has been an interesting month at Quiet Valley. We had an early set of lambs, “Quentin” the Quiet Valley groundhog says it will be an early spring. Punxsutawney Phil agreed with him. The chickens are enjoying the sun and are providing us plenty of eggs which doesn’t always happen this time of year. Unless you provide them with an artificial light source. It is so nice to have fresh eggs! I never knew what a big difference there is between older ones and newly laid ones until I came to Quiet Valley. One morning I was working in the cellar kitchen and had a nice fire going in the hearth. I was waiting for the first school to arrive for their visit to an 1800s farm. I hadn’t had breakfast so I grabbed a couple of eggs, one green and one light brown, and fried them up in the spider. Not a real spider, of course, but a round cast iron frying pan that has several long legs supporting it. Hence the resemblance to a real arachnid. The eggs were delicious, simple fried eggs, so fresh, so good! The green egg was from an Araucana hen and the light brown from the Buff Orpington. They both tasted the same, just better because they were fresh.

The Monday winter camp group learned how to make raised donuts using mashed potatoes in the dough. I was fortunate to get a sample. I should have been a policeman I love donuts so much! We also had our first staff winter training session. As part of that day I gave a lesson about medicinal herbs and their uses on the farm in the 19th century.

There are eight days left in February, but signs of March marching toward us and onto our calendars is all around. One sign is the fact that the temperature is right for tapping the sugar maple trees! It needs to be about 40 degrees in the day and below freezing at night. According to University of Maine Cooperative Extension – Understanding how maple sap is formed requires some knowledge about tree physiology. In the later summer and fall, maple trees virtually stop growing and begin storing excess starches throughout the sapwood, especially in cells called ray cells. This excess starch remains in storage as long as the wood remains colder than about 40 degrees F. Whenever wood temperatures reach around 40 degrees F, enzymes in the ray cells change the starches to sugars, largely sucrose. This sugar then passes into the tree sap. As the temperature increases to about 45 degrees F, the enzymes stop functioning and sugar is no longer produced. In March and April, the sugar changes back to starch—except during periods of flow. Rising temperature creates pressure inside trees, causing sap to flow. When a hole is bored into a tree, wood fibers that are water- (sap-) carrying vessels are severed, so sap drips out of the tree.

I love maple syrup on buttermilk pancakes. When my husband is baking homemade sticky buns he makes a special batch for me where he substitutes maple syrup for the corn syrup. What a treat! It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. It requires lots of heat (firewood, your kitchen stove, an evaporator) to get the majority of moisture out of the sap. If you would drink the sap before boiling it you will have a bare hint of the flavor potential of what will come with the boiling off of the excess water. If you boil it past the syrup point you could cook it all the way down to sugar. A note of caution if you decide to tap your sugar maples and boil the sap down in your home. My friend had all the wallpaper in her kitchen come peeling off as there was so much warm moisture being released! Yikes!!

The second Sunday in March means a return of Daylight Savings Time. Part of the kitchen garden is being tilled so as March marches forward we can get early spring crops in by the end of the month. So much preparation for the farm, our spring programs and field trips takes place in March. And spring cleaning will begin. The pace moves from a walk and steps up to a steady march. By April will we be running on all cylinders!

Well, that’s all for now, folks. Thanks for checking in. Be talking to you soon. Aunt Eunice