Published by bill on Tue, 12/31/2002 - 00:00
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.
February through April, 2002
The 2002 maple sugaring season turned out to be a good one for us. As usual, we were ready for a potentially early start, and we got it, with our first boiling day occurring on February 23. However, unlike some years, where the season is short, this one went right through March, resulting in a near record crop for us. Syrup flavor this year is excellent, although we made very little light amber syrup. The new taps installed in 2001 continued to produce excellent yields of good sap from the smaller “health spouts” we used. These spouts are less than half the size of the older spouts, and it is much easier for the tree to close the taphole after the season. As a result, there is much less “staining” of the sap wood, and this should result in a longer productive life for the trees.May through July, 2002
The farm had two new Fjord horse foals born this year. On May 1, BHF Ilsa produced a large colt we have named BHF Lasse (pronounced Lah-Sah), and two weeks later, her sister BHF Oona presented us with a lovely little filly. She has been named BHF Anja (pronounced Ahn-ya). Lasse appears to be a brown dun color, but we aren’t sure yet what color Anja will eventually be. She is unusual in that she has 4 pink hooves, and has no black or red in her mane.After initial concerns about drought given the lack of snow cover, we ended up getting a lot of rain in June and July, and we had a good yield of first cutting hay. Norma, who handles stacking the bales on our trailer, is particularly proud of this stacking job. Unfortunately, because of a major breakdown with our main tractor, we still have one 5 acre field that has not yet been cut (as of July 31), but the other fields are growing well, and we should get a good second cutting. The horses and goats are all out on pasture and doing well. We have had quite a crop of baby goats, with twins and triplets common. One little buck was abandoned by his mother, and has now become convinced that Norma is his mother. He has taken to a bottle very well, and, other than the fact that we can’t keep him in the pasture (he crawls through the openings in the fence every time he sees Norma or another human), he’s doing quite well.Lots of other births have taken place on or near the farm, including several fauns, one of which has been spending a lot of time with its mother inside the various pastures. We think the doe has realized that the fences are good protection from large predators (like coyotes) that might otherwise take a faun. Another doe has kept her triplets inside another field, where we and several of the guests have been able to see them quite often. Other guests have seen wild turkeys, a pair of red fox, and black bear, including a mother with three cubs. Twins are not that unusual in black bear, but triplets, which are increasingly common, probably indicate that the nutritional status of local bear sows is pretty good
On Sunday, July 22, we took three young horses to an open show in southeastern Mass. These three (BHF Bjorn, BHF Olav, and BHF Maren, have been intensively trained for the past few months, and are doing really well under saddle. They showed well, and we took home several 3rd, 4th and 5th place ribbons earned in big classes. Bjorn went to his second show on July 26, and also did well, especially considering he was the only green horse ther, He and Michelle took 4th in walk/trot/canter Equitation, and 4th in walk/trot/canter Trail.
This is shaping up to be an exciting year on the farm, as we have been approved for a USDA cost-sharing program that will help us erect more pasture fencing to increase the amount of grazing land we can turn the goats and horses onto, and will enable us to make improvements around the barn area to facilitate manure cleanup and handling and control water that runs off during heavy rains. We also have been approved for the Mass. Department of Food and Agriculture Farm Viability Enhancement Program, and are currently completing the details on this. Using the funding from DFA, we will be improving the efficiency of our sugaring operation, and buying additional used haying equipment that will also improve our haying efficiency. In exchange for this funding, we are signing a covenant whereby we agree to not develop our farm for at least 10 years.