Maple Magic Day at the Natick Community Organic Farm (March 3rd, 2007)
The annual Maple Sugaring celebration for the Natick Community Organic Farm begins with a pancake breakfast at Memorial School in South Natick. A good cause, good food, good company, Dixieland jazz, and lots of interesting environmental exhibit tables (with Jill and me helping out for the NBPAC and the CRT). And then, over to the adjacent farm.<
Except as otherwise noted, this presentation and its contents are by A. Richard Miller and are copyrighted 2007 by Miller Microcomputer Services.

070303FarmSign1 The Natick Community Organic Farm offers lots of enjoyable and educational activities for young and old. Its kiosk is a fine place to start.

The Natick Community Organic Farm offers lots of enjoyable and educational activities for young and old. Its kiosk is a fine place to start.

070303FarmSign2 For today's special activities, there are special signs. This one leads us to...

For today's special activities, there are special signs. This one leads us to...

070303BeehiveOven2 fresh bread, baked in...

fresh bread, baked in...

070303BeehiveOven1 an outdoor, beehive oven! As you might guess, this bread is made of whole wheat and is very good!

an outdoor, beehive oven! As you might guess, this bread is made of whole wheat and is very good!

070303DaveDimmick1 Today there are lots of guests, and lots of tours. Dave Dimmick explains how the farmers would line their roads with lanes of maple trees, for easy winter access to the sap buckets.

Today there are lots of guests, and lots of tours. Dave Dimmick explains how the farmers would line their roads with lanes of maple trees, for easy winter access to the sap buckets.

070303AtTheBarn The community farm's main barn hosts more exhibits -- farm animals, farm tools, and more.

The community farm's main barn hosts more exhibits -- farm animals, farm tools, and more.

070303NatickCommunityOrganicFarm1 A view back from the main barn along THIS year's entrance road, past the offices and greenhouse toward Memorial School. Over the white car, you can see the farm's sugar shack. (Zoom in, to see its cords of firewood.)

A view back from the main barn along THIS year's entrance road, past the offices and greenhouse toward Memorial School. Over the white car, you can see the farm's sugar shack. (Zoom in, to see its cords of firewood.)

070303SyrupingColonialStyle2 Maple sugaring hasn't changed THAT much since the Indians taught the settlers how. But the implements have. In the good old Colony days, they used wooden buckets like these brown ones. These Colonial-style spiles were made of sumac shoots, because the central pith is easily removed to make a tube. The clear, watery sap drips into each bucket -- faster in a good season, and as the tree warms in the sun.

Maple sugaring hasn't changed THAT much since the Indians taught the settlers how. But the implements have. In the good old Colony days, they used wooden buckets like these brown ones. These Colonial-style spiles were made of sumac shoots, because the central pith is easily removed to make a tube. The clear, watery sap drips into each bucket -- faster in a good season, and as the tree warms in the sun.

070303SyrupingColonialStyle1 The sap tastes like water, not particularly sweet. It has to be concentrated 40:1 by removing water -- mostly by boiling. Charlie Williams demonstrates how they did that in Colonial days. But first, they would shorten the process by removing ice from the sap buckets (because the ice is pure water). The sweetness remains in the sap beneath the ice, so removing that ice saves some boiling time and some firewood -- and saves the farmer some time and some of the effort of chopping, splitting and moving firewood.

The sap tastes like water, not particularly sweet. It has to be concentrated 40:1 by removing water -- mostly by boiling. Charlie Williams demonstrates how they did that in Colonial days. But first, they would shorten the process by removing ice from the sap buckets (because the ice is pure water). The sweetness remains in the sap beneath the ice, so removing that ice saves some boiling time and some firewood -- and saves the farmer some time and some of the effort of chopping, splitting and moving firewood.

070303DaveDimmick3 Everyone listened with rapt attention, both young...

Everyone listened with rapt attention, both young...

070303DaveDimmick2 and not so young.

and not so young.

070303SyrupingColonialStyle3 And then, everyone enjoyed a taste sample of the partly-evaporated syrup, made Colonial-style.

And then, everyone enjoyed a taste sample of the partly-evaporated syrup, made Colonial-style.

070303SyrupingIndianStyle In another exhibit, Mashpee Wampanoag Indians demonstrate how their inland neighbors maple sugared before the white man arrived. Behind a log exhibit of Native American craftmanship, a young lady heats rocks in an open fire. (No, she's not burning the drum.) The log trough was hollowed by placing glowing coals into the log on the right, charring and hacking it into a holder for a lot of maple sap. Then it was scraped clean. Now, sap is being boiled by putting in hot rocks from the fire. The log would burn in the fire, but even birch-bark bowls can boil water by transferring the hot rocks into their liquid contents. Good idea!

In another exhibit, Mashpee Wampanoag Indians demonstrate how their inland neighbors maple sugared before the white man arrived. Behind a log exhibit of Native American craftmanship, a young lady heats rocks in an open fire. (No, she's not burning the drum.) The log trough was hollowed by placing glowing coals into the log on the right, charring and hacking it into a holder for a lot of maple sap. Then it was scraped clean. Now, sap is being boiled by putting in hot rocks from the fire. The log would burn in the fire, but even birch-bark bowls can boil water by transferring the hot rocks into their liquid contents. Good idea!

070303WampanoagSpoonEtAl1 The exhibit log holds a furry deer hide, a wooden bowl and birch-bark baskets, a deerskin drum, and more for kids to touch and feel. In front on the notebook, a toy made of a deer's leg bone and some of its (hollow) toe bones, strung together with a deer-hide thong. The game is to hold the leg bone sharp end up, and use it to swing the toe bones into the air. It's not easy to skewer one of them on the leg bone!  Just behind this toy, is an strange-looking piece of dark wood which is...

The exhibit log holds a furry deer hide, a wooden bowl and birch-bark baskets, a deerskin drum, and more for kids to touch and feel. In front on the notebook, a toy made of a deer's leg bone and some of its (hollow) toe bones, strung together with a deer-hide thong. The game is to hold the leg bone sharp end up, and use it to swing the toe bones into the air. It's not easy to skewer one of them on the leg bone! Just behind this toy, is an strange-looking piece of dark wood which is...

070303WampanoagSpoonEtAl2 an ancient ladle! You can see its now-broken bowl on the left, and its handle on the right. The handle has a man carved into its end, with his legs slightly bowed so it can be hung up. But what's in the middle of this well-crafted ladle? Why, it's a duck's head, bill and all!

an ancient ladle! You can see its now-broken bowl on the left, and its handle on the right. The handle has a man carved into its end, with his legs slightly bowed so it can be hung up. But what's in the middle of this well-crafted ladle? Why, it's a duck's head, bill and all!

070303WampanoagSpoonEtAl3 The Wampanoag exhibitor, <a href=http://www.mcnaa.org/Speakers/annawon_weeden.html>Annawon Weeden</a>, brought these artifacts from Cape Cod. Here he holds up that duck spoon, as Jill holds a flute and drum. (No, she's not using the flute to beat the drum.)

The Wampanoag exhibitor, Annawon Weeden, brought these artifacts from Cape Cod. Here he holds up that duck spoon, as Jill holds a flute and drum. (No, she's not using the flute to beat the drum.)




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