Life on the Farm
From Season to Season
As a child, I remember when we moved to Newﬁeld. Thirty ﬁve years later, I am raising my family on the same land and in so many ways, not much has changed. Often people will tell me how lucky I am to grow up and live on a farm in rural Maine. It doesnʼt take a lot of persuading to convince me of that. As I raise our three children here in Newﬁeld, they learn so much from the farm. These are lessons that will serve them in every facet of “Life.”
Living on a farm makes one keenly aware of the four different season. Each season comes with its own challenges and rewards. Each new year is introduced in January with a few months of winter. Cold days, gloves, and hats. Wood ﬁres at night and plenty of snow plowing, snow shoveling, and snow blowing. On the farm we have giant snow blowers made for making roads through the woods to our hundreds of maple trees. Often times a calf or two are born earlier than expected and the children just love to play with newborns calves in the barn. Children take nearly a year learning how to walk however, calves need only a few hours.
Spring is a very busy season on the farm. More calves are born. Trees are tapped and Maple Syrup is produced. Every day that the temperature gets above 38 degrees we boil sap at night. These days typically end around midnight and start again the next morning at 7:00. The children ﬁnd plenty of mud to stomp in and a bucket or two to sip a little sap out of. Thomas, age 6, loves to gather sap and is keenly aware of where every sap tank is located in Newfield. By this time of year, the pigs are big enough to go to market and the black ﬂies start to buzz. Manure is spread on the hay ﬁelds and the grass begins to grow. The garden is planted in May and by the end of spring, haying season is about to begin.
Summer is deﬁned by the beginning and the end of haying season. We cut our horse hay on dozens of ﬁeld primarily in the Newﬁeld, Limerick, and Waterboro area. The children are responsible for age appropriate jobs. Older ones have to move hay while the younger ones bring popsicles to the hay ﬁeld and play in the hay. We deliver the hay to many, many farms all over York County. Everything in the summer is scheduled around hay. Everything. No social activities allowed in the summer. If the sun is shining, hay will be making. Eight year old, John, can show you all of the different hay ﬁelds we harvest as we “live” in them over the summer. Papa can tell you where every rock can be found on 150 acres of hay ground.
Once second cut is ﬁnished, Fall is well under way. Children are back in school and it is time for agricultural fairs. Grampa goes to many different fairs to judge horse and oxen pulling. Preparations are underway for the Maple Syrup booth at Fryeburg Fair. The garden is harvested and vegetables are put away for winter. Cows are moved into the barn for the long cold winter. Firewood is cut and split for many houses including the sugarhouse. We hold plenty of open house days at the sugarhouse and promote Maple Syrup for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Maple Syrup is shipped all over the United States for corporate gifts and retail sales. Christmas will be a whole lot sweeter for the hundreds of recipients on the other end of the package.
Everything one needs to know to run a successful Maple Syrup business can be learned from growing up on a farm. Hard work and dedication are a must. Quality products must be produced and marketed at a fair price. An equal amount of passion and perseverance is needed in all aspects of farming. Just as our parents did, we hope that we can instill these characteristics in our children. After all, each and every bottle of Maple Syrup leaves our farm with the Bryant Family name proudly displayed on the front. The ﬂavor must be exceptional, the packaging just right. You should expect nothing less.