Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Molasses Reflections

We are inbetween the 2nd and 3rd Batches of Molasses. Every time we make a Batch and every year we are in production, we learn more.

The Harvest of Sorghum is complete on Butterfly Hill Farm. Except for the Cane that had fallen in the Wind, that Field is mostly stubble and drying leaves from the Harvest.

On Wednesday, Harvest for Batch 3 began at the Crawford Family Farm outside of Millard. The Crew (Hollis, Gerald, Richard, Hollis Dale, and Mike) worked on harvesting the Sorghum.

That Cane field had been heavily hit by the 60-65 mph Winds earlier. The Crew got what they could from the Standing Field today. They haven't gotten all that they can or will. They filled the Wagon and brought it in by Noon.

More was stripped in the Field and awaits harvest. Richard suspects they will try to get another Wagon Load for Saturday's Batch. We keep learning and growing in this whole process.

This day brings some reflection on Planting which occurred in this field about May 20. (Deleta, please verify this date.) Hollis uses a Modified Horse Drawn Corn Planter to plant the Sorghum Seeds. (See photo below.) This Planter dates back to the late 1800s. (Deleta, is the date on the Planter 1897? I have that around here somewhere.)

Hollis had observed that the vintage Cane Plates on the Planter plant more thickly than desired. As a result, Stalks will grow more thickly in their rows, which results in thinner Canes and Plants which are harder to strip.

To compensate for this, Hollis baked the Seeds to reduce the viability of 20% of the Seeds prior to planting. Then he mixed the baked Seeds back in with the rest. This year, the Cane in this Field is indeed more thinly planted which has made it better.

I am amazed at the Sophistication required for this whole process. Plus, we are recreating a Craft which had almost died out in this area. The Old Ones of our Past had tremendous knowledge based on years of observation and practice. They perhaps had information from previous Generations and certainly other Growers who were their contemporaries.

Those Old Ones are no longer around to supervise this process. I think they are gently guiding and supporting us as we reclaim this Tradition which binds us all. You can almost hear their Voices in the Murmuring of the Leaves.

The Town Creature in me has gone for so long to the Store and bought a given Product of the Land. "I want this and I want it now." For Molasses, I never would have considered all the little parts to this Immense Puzzle of growing Sorghum and producing that wonderful Molasses I simply reach for in my Cupboard.

In living on Butterfly Hill Farm and producing with other Family Members these wonderful things that nourish us, we have so much to learn. It is a blessing to be even a small part of this Revival on the Land.

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