by merckforest on May 21, 2016
Dear Outside World,
Despite the snow today, on April 26th, flowers have finally started to bloom! Since our last foray into blog writing, Peggy Sue gave an outstanding performance delivering her piglets between the hours of 7pm and 7am. We apprentices had the novel experience of collecting the piglets as they were born, cleaning and drying them, keeping them warm in our jackets, and helping them suckle for the first time. Ten spotted piglets are now happily parading through wallows, under fences, and among the chickens.
Another on-farm discovery is the plethora of opportunities to get in some yoga. While our mats at home have sat idle, we have stretched and reached during such activities as sheep shearing (a delicate dance between person and ewe) and apple pruning (a delicate dance in balancing among branches). A sheep-shearing workshop led by Jim McRae and Andy Rice served the dual purpose of providing an introduction to shearing and also getting our sheep shorn. The sheep don’t seem to mind their uneven trims too badly (and thankfully, it’s already growing back). Training the apple trees rounded out our fruit pruning this spring, and we look forward to the blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to come.
While Merck was the last operation boiling in Bennington County, the time to pull taps has finally come. After providing us with the sap needed to make 1,395 gallons of syrup (roughly 60,000 gallons of sap), the ~3,000 trees deserve a rest. One of the benefits of climbing the steep sugarbush slopes is discovering ramps! These are wild leeks that can be used for tasty dishes such as ramp and potato soup and mushroom and ramp quiche (we can attest to their tastiness).
As the sugaring season winds down, the programming season is ramping up! In May, we will have three sixth grade classes coming in for two-day sessions, a spring ephemerals walk (5/12), a full-moon hike (5/21), an art exhibit opening in the Sap House (5/15), and Meet the Lambs, a morning event to explore the farm, ride the horse-drawn wagon, and enjoy one of our pork sausage biscuits (5/28). We hope to see you here!
Until the next one,
McIlvennie and McCobb