It was another beautiful day of sunshine, blue skies, and tolerable temperature (about 45 degrees (F)) — we could not stay home. She Who Must Be Obeyed had a great idea. She recalled that the Malabar Farm State Park (Ohio) was staging their Maple Syrup Festival today. We quickly piled into the Insight and headed for the freeway and a quick trip to the Mansfield area. The rural area surrounding Malabar Farm is lovely, rolling terrain. The drive itself was a pleasure.
Arriving at Malabar, we were guided to one of the last two prime parking spots on the property. From the parking lot we boarded a trailer towed by a John Deere tractor and headed for the actual farm. It was a bit muddy and there was a long line (without a long wait) where we boarded another trailer, this one towed by a pair of draft horses. There were, as I recall, nine teams working transportation this day and they easily pulled their loads up wet, winding, earthen hillside lanes to the sugaring area. Draft horses are pretty impressive; the hind quarters of one of the pair pulling our trailer were well above my head as stood nearby –higher than six feet–and the animals weigh in at around 2,000 lbs. … each!
We were treated to a demonstration of how maple sap is collected, then boiled down to reduce it to syrup. An open-air demonstration delivered historical stories of how Native Americans and early settlers made sugar (not syrup) from the tree sap. Moving indoors, we saw how a more modern, though wood-fired, operation works. The park ranger delivering the talk did a did a fine job of it as we stood inside the sugar house and watched thick clouds of steam rise up through the rafters and out into the cool air. Ohio is one of the top producers of maple syrup in the country though, according to the ranger, Canada produces 95 percent of the world's supply.
Heading towards home we had a relaxing cross-country journey enjoying the sun's warmth, smooth roads, and picturesque surroundings. AND I was finally able to finish the big annual publishing project that's been weighing me down for weeks now! The account rep picks it up tomorrow for delivery to the printing plant.
A sweet day it was down at the sugar shack!
When I was homeschooling, I remember reading a book aloud to my boys about a family that goes to help grandpa during maple syrup season. I cannot remember the name of the book but seeing your pictures brought the story clearly back to my mind!