Thursday, April 23, 2009

April Vacation

It's really fun to leave all your cares behind and go someplace during April vacation. We went downeast to Swan's Island and down to Portland. We saw my nephew and my parents, who are hanging in there. My father is a little fuzzier than he used to be, but he is basically okay. He's teaching a class at senior college so I think he's okay.

Swan's Island has had some problems, but seems to be intact. Lobsters are going for around two dollars a pound, which is a really low price. The tourists should turn up soon and perk things up a bit. I hope.

The price of maple syrup has dropped a bit, but we knew that would happen.

Whatever we don't sell we eat anyway.

The situation around here isn't much better.

I love taking off my teacher mantle for a little while. Today I went into the bank totally covered in soot. I was cleaning the evaporator and had to scrub the drops. I needed to get some money out to pay for some green hardwood we're having delivered. It's in 8 foot lengths and we put it on the skidder bridges we made for logging. They are like gigantic pallets. I just have to cut between the slats and I won't dull my chainsaw. I think it will work.

It's for the winter after next, so I figure we are two years ahead now.

The winter of 2010/11 could be a bad one. Or it could be a good one.

Whatever happens, we'll be ready!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I just figured something out.

I live in a small town and most of the people I interact with have never lived anywhere else.

I find that I have a hard time getting into where they are coming from, and they don't like my point of view at all.

This is going to be a real problem post peak. I don't trust many people in this town and I may be stuck with them for a while.

This may be the situation for a lot of people who live far from where they grew up.

It's the immigrant's dilemma.

I moved here to Maine when I was around 28, so I missed the period of culture acquisition.

I really don't understand people here at all, and I'm not going to pick it up now.

It's like getting shipwrecked.

I suppose I'll muddle through, but I am never going to be at home here.

Monday, March 30, 2009

It's hard to rejoin the rest of the world after sugaring

I've been doing the maple sugaring thing for a month. I had the first day off in a month on Sunday. We hung around, ate turkey pie and watched movies. It was great, but now it's Monday and I am back to my regular job. I don't feel the sense of urgency that I did when the sap was coming in. No need to boil after school. It's funny. We may have some more to boil on Wednesday, but we really don't know at this point if the season is over.

Maple syruping turns you into a farmer for a short time, and then all of a sudden, it's over.

It seems like I have a lot of time to do things now.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maple Syrup Musings

Maple syruping is a really fun thing to do this time of year. You have to be the kind of person who doesn't mind mud, heat, cold, sun, rain and snow.

We have all these things in abundance at the woodlot.

Check it out on youtube below.
I am feeling a bit better about our prospects lately. We made over 10 gallons of syrup this weekend and all sorts of people stopped by to wish us well. The number of people who are with us far outnumbers those who are against us, so what the heck. We'll keep going as long as nature keeps sending us the sap. We are sending large quantities of steam towards heaven and having a good time doing it.

We had over 300 gallons of sap when we started on Saturday, and we boiled it down to a manageable 100 gallons. The next day we came back in and were back to over 250 again! We cranked Patrick up and boiled it all down by 8pm.

This is the only time of the year you can do this, so we are making hay while the sun shines.

I feel that it's a real privledge to be able to do this. I thank God for the opportunity.

It's a lot of fun too. We have friends like Dan who show up and man the hot seat in front of the evaporator every year. John does yeoman's work finishing and I try to help out by getting wood and doing whatever has to be done.

People came with kids to help collect buckets. It really is community supported agriculture.

Maili came through at a crucial time with soup and bread, and Sherri brought her knitting and helped with sales.

The sun shone and made the sap flow.

All in all we are blessed to be able to do this.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Can We Make it through Peak Oil in Central Maine?

Lately I have been thinking a lot about whether we'll make it through peak oil around here. I'm not so sure any more. We have a small maple sugaring operation and you would think that people would respect the fact that we are making a product there. We have been vandalized at least 3 times, seriously. The last time somebody shot 6 bullets into the shack from a high powered rifle. It damaged the evaporator, but we can still make maple syrup. Our motto for this year is "illegitimati non carborundum", which means don't let the bastards grind you down.

The maple sugaring operation is just a small example of the kind of place that we will need to have to produce food and fiber for ourselves in the future. We will need to be able to work without worrying about people messing with what we are doing. It makes me think that we may need to guard the places where our substenance is coming from.

The world seems headed for exactly the kind of trouble that the "doomers" are always warning us about.

Instead of working together and making our communities thrive we will fall into fighting and wrecking the efforts of the few people who are trying to make farming work.

I really don't know what the answer is, but we are going to keep on boiling sap until the season is done.

Ilegitimati non carborundum!!!

Monday, February 23, 2009

I started reading about education again...

I haven't read much that is useful about education since Dewey. Paolo Freire's Pedagogy of the Opressed was great too.

I am reading some Ivan Illich and am getting psyched again about teaching with a green curriculum. I just got the latest copy of the National Teacher's Association magazine, which frankly is usually a bore. They had a great spread on going green.

Most of what we've done so far at my school has been in spite of the powers that be, not because of them. We re-instituted recycling, built a solar car and started a Green Club, not because we got any encouragement, but because the students wanted to do it, and it needed to be done.

Don't expect any pats on the back for doing anything green.

It's okay, because at least they were not fighting us, much.

Can't stop the unstoppable. The color of the future is green.

Here's a project we did a couple of years ago with Art Haines: