Life on the Farm in Rural Maine

Winter Scene on the FarmCongratulations to John Bryant- Winner of the 2020 Young Sugarmakers Award!

John grew up in a sugarhouse and is well versed in the day to day operations of a sugaring operation. He has worked faithfully over the past two years as we built our new sugarhouse and is now helping to build a new sugarbush in Newfield. He is a great helper when running tubing and he loves to check tubing lines for leaks with his snowshoes. During sugaring season, he can be found helping run the evaporator and packaging syrup. John is very talented in the marketing aspect of the business and often runs our maple store and the computer software on his own. He has a wonderful amount of sugaring knowledge that he shares with customers on a regular basis.

Beyond the sugarhouse John is currently maintaining a very high GPA in all of his classes at school. It is not uncommon for him to be on the high honors list for not one or two classes but all of them each semester. When he is not working on school work or the farm, he volunteers at our local church. There he works with elementary students on Thursday nights as a leader in the kids youth group.

John also loves to drive his John Deere 260 around town mowing lawns and feeding cattle. He can often be found mowing our elderly neighbors lawn for free, as he has done for so many years to help her out.

John is a delightful young man that is actively involved in his community and the maple industry.  As his parents, we couldn’t be more proud of him!

From Season to Season

As a child, I remember when we moved to Newfield.  Forty 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.

Picking FlowersSpring 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 10, 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.  Thirteen 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.

Boy in the GrassOnce second cut is finished, Fall is well under way. Children are back in school and it is time for agricultural fairs. Grampa goes to fairs to judge horse and oxen pulling. Preparations are underway for the many fair events that we will participate in. 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 thousands 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.