[Snakeroot Organic Farm logo]
 • What's New Here
 • Snakeroot Poultry

 • About Our Farm
 • Annual Farm Tour
 • Community Supported
    Agriculture Plan (CSA)
Directions to our Farm
 • From a Run Out Hayfield to
    a Prosperous Organic Farm
    in Ten Easy Years

 • Get Real. Get Organic!
 • History of Our Farm
 • Pictures of the Farm
 • Where We Buy
 • Where We Sell
 • Our Yearly Work Schedule
 • Just Pretty
 • Subscribe to our e-newsletter.
 • Newsletter Archive.
 • What We Will & Won't Ship

 • Working Here
 • Our Apprentices
 • Our Farm Workers
 • Pictures of Us at Market

 • Fresh Vegetables
 • Fresh Fruit
 • Fresh Herbs
 • Perennials
 • Aloe - a magical plant
 • Our Bird Houses
 • Lupines
 • Rosemary Plants
 • Lovage, Tansy & Yarrow
 • Our Product Brochures
 • Dried Vegetables
 • Dried Culinary Herbs
 • Maple Syrup
 • Maple Syrup, p.2
 • Sugarin' Is Like Ice Fishin'
 • Our New Sugarhouse
 • Tomato Seedlings
 • Tomato Seeds We Offer
 • Tomato Seed Production
 • Paste Tomatoes
 • About Garlic
 • Garlic for Sale
 • Garlic Year Round
 • Mulching Garlic
 • Growing Rounds from Bulbils
 • Whole Bulbil Cluster Method
 • Planting Garlic

 • Using Mulches
 • Combatting Quackgrass
    with Mulch

 • We Want Your Leaves!
 • In Praise of Chips

 • Buying in Bulk for
    Storage, Canning & Freezing

 • Winter Storage Tips
 • How to Freeze Our Veggies
 • Building Techniques
 • Our Outbuildings
 • Evolution of the Farm Table
 • The Story of Our Cooler
 • Prepping Veggies for Market
 • Crop Rotations
 • Drip Irrigation
 • Low Pressure Water
 • Planting with Spreadsheets
 • Greenhouse Vegetable

 • Let-tuce Begin
 • Recipe Favorites
 • Our "Remay Roller"
 • Gardening Class Notes
 • Your Most Expensive Crop

 • Being Green
 • Digging Potatoes by Hand
 • Farmers' Markets in 2012
 • History of Pittsfield
 • Hybrids or Open Pollinated?
 • Making Websites
 • Open Source Software

    Our Retirement Plan
 • How Should a Farmer Retire?
 • Impediments to the want-to-be     farmer
 • Reducing the Value
    of the Land

 • Who Will Farm Here When
    We're Gone?

 • Apprentice Terms and Stages
 • From Apprentices to Partners
 • Transferring Farm Ownership

…and now for something completely different…

At dawn
Canoe bow waves are quickly lost
    on the shoreside
But go on out of sight
    on the lake side.


The constant swish-swish of skis
    On a day long ski.
The constant swish-swish of wiper blades
    On a day long drive.


My dog, trotting barefoot
Steps on a garden slug
And thinks
Nothing of it.


Word spreads quickly
as I approach the pond.
All becomes quiet.


Hidden in the vines
a large warted cucumber
jumps out of reach.
A toad!


Delicate puffs
of marshmallow snow
carefully perched
on a branch,
await the trigger of my hat
to melt their way down my back.

Deep in the tomato jungle
Fruits of yellow, purple and red
Tell of their readiness
To go to market.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow with spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.


Sugarin' is like Ice Fishin'

Their seasons overlap a bit, but there's way more to it than that. Coming as they do during a time of year when sensible folk are catching up on their reading, moving the snow to a preferred location, or huddled around the wood stove, both ice fishing and sugaring offer a blessed break from taking yet another long look at this winter's to-do list.

From today's urban world view, both activities seem foolish. Neither one can justify all the work put into it by the material outcome alone. And yet the fish or syrup produced, while gladly come by, is but a nuance of the magnetism of the experience.

What Ice Fishers and Sugarmakers often keep secret is that they really do it because it's just so doggone satisfying. Both make holes to get at what they are after, one answering the call of the fish beneath the ice; the other the call of the sap beneath the bark. Both activities seem like repeated day-long camping trips, each day molded to a highly focused purpose of getting nature to work for you with just your bare hands. In each case one leaves behind the four walls of home for a trek to a place of almost spiritual effort, endurance, and ritual. The lighting of the fire, the peace of mind that such industrious meditations bring, watching and obeying the weather as it forms around you, all of these bring an singular experience unlike anything that most of the other inhabitants of this planet are ever likely to experience. And with the acknowledgment of that gift comes a gratitude.

From the ordinary person's perspective the two activities seem quite different. Fish are not like syrup, and watching a quiet hole in the ice is not like watching a frantic pan of sap at full boil. Scooping out the ice that's trying to re-claim the hole you made doesn't seem much like skimming off the foam so the sap doesn't boil over, even if you are using the same strainer. Re-baiting the hook isn't much like re-filling the evaporator. And of course one effort deals with cold things, the other with hot. But a more thorough examination finds that these differences are but superficial. A more discerning eye might notice that the short-term tenants of both the ice house and the sugarhouse are doing very much the same thing, and for similar reasons. The nouns are different, but the balm for the psyche is the same.

For the Ice Fisher, it's when the ice gets just thick enough; for the Sugarmaker, it's when the nose of spring just begins to peek into winter's tent; then both are off on their adventures, each with the unstoppable zeal of a new missionary. But of course they are; in the Old Religion it's how we pray.

Sugarin' Chores
Snowflakes hurry through my flashlight beam,
As my boots knead new snow into the spring mud,
On my nightly Hajj to keep the boil alive,
For as long as possible until the dawn,
To match the power of the flowing sap,
With my meager evaporator and will.
The prize at the finish line are jars of syrup
And Spring.

27 Organic Farm Road, Pittsfield Maine 04967
owned and operated by
Tom Roberts & Lois Labbe
Tom: Tom@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5417
Lois: Lois@snakeroot.net (cell) 207-416-5418

Gardening for the public since 1995.

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