Many agricultural products were cultivated on the farm.
Maple syrup production began with Joshua (who I mentioned last week) in the late 1800â€™s and continued in the same sugar woods until 2009. My cousin continues to sell maple products, although the syrup now comes from trees that my uncle taps on his property in Albert County, New Brunswick.
Cattle, pigs, chickens, and garden vegetables were grown and sold locally over the years.Â I remember my grandmother growing and drying summer savory in her porch, my older cousins remember helping to pluck the chickens and prepare them for market. More recently, my uncle was a beef farmer, maple producer, and a lumberman.
My memories of the farm revolve around chores. Coming from the city to visit the farm on weekends meant that we got to help out with work that needed to be done. As a kid I thought this was great fun! There was so much space and freedom at the farm and helping out made me feel like I was contributing to something important, even though as a kid I was probably more in the way than anything. Helping put the hay in the barn, planting the garden, feeding the cows, and gathering sap in the spring, were all tasks that I really liked being a part of.
Every spring my family would gather for Easter dinner at the sugar camp. We ate in the camp while someone tended the sap boiling in the evaporator. When the syrup was ready it would be poured off into a tank, if we were lucky we’d get a taste of warm fresh syrup in an enamel camp cup. Sitting in the camp you were enveloped in sugar maple steam, which is one of the best smells I remember from my childhood.
I enjoyed planting the huge garden in the spring, then checking on the plants in the coming weeks as they sprouted and grew. Corn, cucumbers, lettuce, beets, carrots, beans, peas, and plenty of potatoes were among the vegetables planted. The rhubarb patch provided delicious stewed rhubarb and pies in the spring. Hodge podge was a staple in the summer when the potatoes, beans, peas and carrots were ready to harvest.
The land also provided many things that weren’t cultivated. I took delight in picking wild raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. In the spring my siblings and I would pick fiddleheads with my aunt. During the fall there were plenty of apples from the trees in the pasture to pick, so long as the cattle didnâ€™t get them first. Each season brought plenty to harvest on the farm.
How to make Hodge podge
Dig up a hill of potatoes in the garden, and pick a bunch of carrots, green beans and peas. Put on a large pot of water to boil and clean the vegetables. The beans go in the pot first, then potatoes, carrots, and peas. When the vegetables are cooked drain the water and put the pot back on the stove. Pour in some cream and butter, add a pinch of salt and pepper, stir it all up, and eat.