Nancy Canfield wrote, “The plows never made it to this end of Glen Road. My sister had to get back to Suffield so our awesome neighbors cleared the road for her! Love our neighborhood! We love Granby and the road crew! I’m sure they are doing a great job of cleanup all around.”
By John R. Nieb
The unusual weather of the winter of 2016 to 2017 has affected the trees in the Granby area and the sap that determines boiling season for maple syrup.
“Even though we’ve had a few days up and down the temperature scale, trees here in New England are and will remain dormant for the winter season,” said Doug Max, owner of Maximum Tree Service LLC.
Buds that are formed prior to the summer remain protected under bud scales until the next growing season. There is a scientific formula to compute Growing Degree Days (GDD), but basically it’s the high and low temperature of a given day averaged out above a particular base line for each species or variety of tree.
Trees live in hardiness zones specific to each tree species and directly related to their ability to survive in the temperatures of that zone.
“Trees in our hardiness zone require a certain number of consistent GDDs to start the growing process,” Max said. “We haven’t started counting any GDDs for New England because we need consistent temperatures above an average of 50-55 degrees.”
“One concern that comes to mind, but there’s nothing we can do to prevent it, is a late season frost,” Max said. “If trees accumulate enough GDDs to break dormancy and start the flow of nutrients or sap as it were, and we get a late season frost, thin bark trees like Norway maple can run the risk of having the sap freeze.”
When any liquid freezes, it expands and can split the bark. Trees are resilient and have the ability to compartmentalize disease and decay. The present weather pattern is having very little affect on the trees in this hardiness zone and they’ll continue dormancy until spring arrives.
When Arlow Case Jr., owner of Sweet Wind Farm, was six-years-old, he began maple sugaring on Bushy Hill Road. Case took an interest in tapping trees, boiling the sap, and making maple syrup. His father, Arlow Case Sr., was a sheet metal worker and fashioned his first homemade evaporator, and began “Arlow’s Sugar Shack” in the backyard.
Case and his parents made maple syrup for about 30 years. Case has tapped many trees in Granby over the years and still does so, giving some of the finished “liquid gold” to tree owners in exchange for letting him tap the trees. As a kid, Case’s production was a few dozen taps. Now, his production is around 3,000 to 4,000 taps, depending on the season.
Case taps trees in many towns besides Granby, including Hartland, Granville, Barkhamsted, East Granby, Simsbury and on the family farm in Blandford.
In 2006, Case and his wife, Susan, built their present sugarhouse in Hartland. It has a 4”x10” Dominion and Grimm evaporator and a La Pierre reverse osmosis. The Cases make 200 to 1,000 gallons of syrup depending on how many sap runs there are and the number of trees tapped.
Case’s four children have all helped with syrup making and the two who are still at home know a bit about farm work and the old New England tradition of maple sugaring.
The sap “runs” when the days are warm and the nights are freezing. The roots convert stored starches into sugar and the pressure of the freeze and thaw cycle sends it out and upward to feed the limbs. The sap is collected after a “run” and brought back to the sugarhouse for boiling.
“Each tap hole has to be a newly drilled hole in a new spot, which is about one and a half inches deep and a 5/16 spigot is inserted for the sap to flow out of,” Case said. “Usually all taps these days are put on connected tubing, which makes it much easier to collect the sap in one large tank near the sugarbush.”
“The old days of buckets are great for a home hobbyist, but not a commercial producer who needs to make good time on collecting,” Case said. “A typical good season could provide a quart of syrup per tap.”
It takes at least 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. Back at the sugarhouse, it is first run through a reverse osmosis machine that extracts water content out of the sap and concentrates it before boiling in the evaporator.
Sap is about 2.5 percent sugar content, and the finished syrup is about 66 percent sugar. Once the syrup is the right density it is pumped through a filter press to take out the “niter”, or sap sand, and when it is hot, it is bottled into various size jugs and bottles.
Syrup season in Connecticut typically starts in February and lasts through the end of March, but there have been seasons that start, and or end, sooner or later. Every year the weather is different—there is never a typical season.
In years past, the Cases have made syrup as early as January or as late as mid-April. There have been seasons where it didn’t warm up enough until mid-March to start, and other years where by mid-March, it was all over.
This year seems to be an average year. Usually by the second week of February, most sugar makers have started their season. The extended forecast is watched for days with a night time freeze (below 32 degrees, but preferably in the 20s) followed by a 40-degree day to start to thaw the sap.
“This is what makes the sap flow,” Case said. “Any other day where the nights don’t freeze up enough, or the days don’t get warm enough, the sap does not run at all.”
A typical season will get up to a dozen sap runs, but the Cases have had years where there were only a few saps.
“We can never tell ahead of time what kind of season it is going to be, we can only tell you in hindsight what it was,” Case said. “The weather right now does not seem out of the ordinary to us.”
“Only if it suddenly gets warm and stays that way, or suddenly stays cold too many days in a row, will it effect the overall season,” Case said. “We don’t know until it is over and done with for sure, usually by sometime in April.”
Pure maple syrup is graded according to color, but there is a difference in flavor with the different grades as well.
“We are still using the ‘old’ grading system, because it’s easier and it’s what people are used to,” Case said. The old way, Grade A syrup was divided into three subcategories: light amber, medium amber, and dark amber. Obviously determined by the color of the syrup. Lighter colored syrup is yellow, whereas medium is a golden brown, and dark is brown. Grade B syrup is even darker like coffee, but stronger in flavor so it is not considered a table-grade syrup, but is used for baking and cooking.
Most of what the Cases make tends to be medium amber. Typically, the darker the color, the stronger the flavor and the lighter the color the more delicate the flavor.
“We use light syrup for making confections. Everyone has a favorite and there is no grade more popular than another, it is all individual preference,” Case said.
The grading system has changed and now is divided into more categories. What was considered Grade B for cooking is now a Grade A “strong robust.”
The Cases hold their annual Maple Festival on the second Saturday of March every year because that day is the best bet for being smack dab in the middle of the season, but there have been years when the Maple Festival was the first boil of the season—and years when it was on the last boil of the year.
“We’ll see what happens,” Case said.
Sweet Wind Farm
Annual Maple Festival
March 11, 2017
By Shirley Murtha
After 48 years with the Salmon Brook Veterinary Hospital, Dr. P. Morey Miller decided that the last day of 2016 would be the last day of his fulltime employment. As is typical of things in the veterinary world, it didn’t happen as quietly as he had planned. In the late afternoon of Dec. 31, as he patiently waited out the last few hours on call in the Small Animal Office, in came a dog with gastric torsion (bloat) requiring immediate life-saving surgery. The operation successfully completed and the patient resting comfortably, Miller was finally able to begin his new year and his new life.
Miller’s career was celebrated with a large gathering of colleagues and clients on Jan. 22, but in actuality, he is still keeping his hand in the practice two days a week doing herd checks on the area’s dairy farms. At one time a major part of veterinary work, these planned visitations have dwindled along with the once numerous dairy farms. In addition to checking the animals and giving routine vaccinations and pregnancy exams, the visits also provide a way to take stock of the overall condition of the farm. A dairy man at heart, Miller enjoys putting on the overalls and galoshes and continuing the tradition.
The road to Granby from his family farm in Towanda, Penn., began when Miller was in high school. As the youngest of three brothers, he realized he would not likely ever be the owner of the farm. When considering a career, he knew how much caring for animals was in his blood — “I already felt that I was a shepherd,” he notes — and decided he would become a veterinarian.
Having earned his B.S. in dairy science at Penn State in 1964 and his D.V.M. at the New York State Veterinary College at Cornell in 1968, he noticed a job opening at a practice in Granby, Conn. His advisor recommended the job to him, saying that the two veterinarians, Bob Milkey and Forrest Davis, were both very highly respected vets, although they did have “quite different personalities.” Miller wasn’t 100 percent sure he wanted to start his career being a mediator, “the man in the middle,” as he put it, but he joined up and never regretted his choice. In 1968, the practice was a mixed one, in which all three vets worked on all categories of animals. Today the practice has grown to have doctors who specialize in various animals and various kinds of veterinary care.
Miller notes that another difference in practicing veterinary medicine today is the vast array of diagnostic techniques, many automated and digitalized, that were laborious and time-consuming in his early days. For example, taking x-rays was a very difficult project that took hours, and blood work had to be sent to human hospitals for diagnosis.
Despite the advances in techniques, the practice of veterinary medicine, according to Miller, continues to be being the spokesperson for the animals — “finding the answers to the questions the animals would ask if they could.” Clinical symptoms have been, and probably always will be, the starting point.
Along with his career at Salmon Brook, Miller has developed and maintained a sizeable herd of dairy cows on his own farm on North Granby Road. While attending to the herd on the farm owned by the Colton family since the 1800s, Miller was told by Bill Colton that he was selling off the property in sections, but had not yet sold the house and barn and really wanted it to remain a dairy farm. “Why don’t you buy it?” Colton asked, leading Miller to discuss the possibility with his wife (he and Jane had married in 1972). With the help of a Farm Credit loan in 1974, the young couple became the owners of what is now Milborne Farm.
Starting his herd with a few cows he owned back on the family farm in Towanda, Miller’s herd has grown to about 40 milking cows and 30 calves and heifers. His interest in conformation and showing eventually led to a relationship with 4-H kids, now defined by a 30-year lease program to the organization. Eighteen youngsters come to his farm beginning in April; they work through the summer to be ready to show in the Hartford County 4-H fair held in August in Somers. Miller proudly notes that every year some of his kids qualify in Somers to show at the Eastern States in September.
Miller himself is still showing, as well. The high point of that came a few years back when his beautiful Guernsey, Faye, was Reserve Grand Champion at the World Dairy Exposition in Madison, Wisc. The following year, a busload of touring dairy people arrived at Miller’s farm to see the very special cow, an event that was reported in the Drummer.
Miller notes that retiring is bittersweet and takes some getting used to. He is already enjoying the time he now gets to spend with his grandchildren, but is glad that for a couple of days a week, he still plays a role in tending to the health of the area’s dairy herds.
Join the LAFD Cadet program
By Tim Rickis
Do you like helping your community? Have you always wanted to ride in a fire truck and help put out a fire? Want the opportunity to make new friends within the town and the fire department?
What is a Cadet?
As members of the LAFD Cadet’s program, youths train and serve alongside members of the department. Cadets will be trained to assist the firefighters with various support activities. Additionally, the cadets will be trained in actual firefighting skills in controlled conditions to help prepare them for possible careers in the profession or continuing on to be full time members of the department when they turn 18 years old.
Sound like something that might interest you? Please contact Lt. Steve Galuska at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and an application.
by Susan and William Regan
Foxfield F.A.R.M. (For A Recovery Mission) Foundation was initiated as a 501(C)(3) Charity in April 2016 as an equine-ground-work therapy program for Veterans with PTSD. It recently received a $10,000 grant from Newman’s Own Foundation created by the late actor and philanthropist, Paul Newman. The foundation turns all net profits and royalties from the sale of Newman’s Own products into charitable donations. To date, Paul Newman and Newman’s Own Foundation have given over $485 million to thousands of charities around the world. This 2017 grant is based on the purpose, value and contribution Foxfield F.A.R.M. provides to U.S. veterans serving and protecting America and its allies throughout the world.
This support reinforces Foxfield F.A.R.M.’s integrity and credibility as a non-profit along with its partnerships with St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center; Mt. Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital and The Frank Netter School of Medicine, Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine at Quinnipiac University that was the first to bestow a financial grant.
Other leading benefactors include Kubota Corporation, The Robert and Margaret Patricelli Family Foundation, Wells Fargo Philanthropy Fund, Cabela’s Corporation and Dream Buildings, LLC.
Foxfield F.A.R.M. supports and hopes that new legislation will be enacted to expand public awareness and foster guidelines to aid doctors and clinicians to provide a better quality of life for veterans and their families.
In addition to this cause, a program to rescue, rehabilitate and re-home horses at risk is integrated into the activity to help create a healing synergy between man and equine.
Please visit the website: www.foxfieldrecoverymission.org for more information and to donate either by check or PayPal.
The Foxfield F.A.R.M. Foundation of Granby is donating time and sharing its Yorkshire Terriers at MeadowBrook Assisted Living bringing smiles and companionship to the residents. Susan and Bill Regan are founders of Foxfield F.A.R.M. (For a Recovery Mission), a 501(C)(3) organization.
These loving bundles of joy will be incorporated into the 2017 equine therapy curriculum established for veterans with PTSD. It is a proven fact, and very evident, that animals have a special healing connection with humans and this homeopathic treatment is a constructive alternative to standard clinical and drug program options.
The Regans have thoroughbred horses, cats and a CKC Irish Wolfhound on their private farm, and breed AKC Yorkshire Terrier puppies bringing joy to their clients and families. Visit these websites for more information: www.foxfieldrecoverymission.org and www.foxfieldfarmct.com
By Andrea Boyle
The Granby Food Bank Program is delighted to highlight some recent donations from local businesses and organizations.
Back In Touch Wellness Center sponsored a Hat and Mitten Drive and generously donated the collection of new, warm winter accessories.
Salmon Brook Veterinary Hospital and Horses & Hounds teamed up to sponsor a Pet Food Drive, and recently delivered many dozens of bags and cans of cat and dog food. Hunger Relief boxes, which Stop & Shop patrons purchase at the register, provided program participants with several nutritious meals.
Monetary contributions from Arrow Concrete, Carmon Community Funeral Homes, the Gables Homeowners Association, the Hunt Glen Community, the Margaret H. Lindberg Fund and the Student Government at Granby Memorial High School will help subsidize the cost of replenishing Food Bank.
The volunteer-run Granby Food Bank subsists solely on donations from the community and is most grateful to all who support our program. Donations are gratefully accepted during food bank hours on Tuesday from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and Thursday from 2 to 3:30 p.m., as well as during business hours at the Granby Senior Center. Anyone interested in volunteering for this important community resource can call 860-653-5514 for more information.
Andrea Obston Marketing Communications was named a winner in the Hartford Business Journal’s Best of Business Poll in the best Public Relations Firm category, and received honorable mention in the Advertising Agency category. The Best of Business Awards recognize and promote locally owned and operated businesses. The winners were voted on by the readers of the Hartford Business Journal who singled out Andrea Obston Marketing Communications as the Best of the Best in its field. The awards celebrate the business-to-business companies in the Hartford region that have been recognized by their peers in the business community. Obston is a Granby resident.
Proprietor of JD’s Barber Shop
Tell about how you arrived at your present occupation…
Once I finished high school I enrolled in the service and after that I tried many different jobs. I liked building things with my hands so I framed houses and worked in the construction industry for a while. Eventually it was important to put aside my pride and realize what the best path for me should be.
My dad was a successful barber in town for many years and his guidance helped. I came to understand that being a men’s hair stylist was rewarding in a number of ways. Besides haircutting a good barber gets accustomed to hearing his customers talk about their lives. The shop becomes like home to many of them. Years ago a man came in that didn’t really need a haircut but had just lost a parent and wanted to talk. I’m just a listener and the small things, (about the job), mean more than big things.
Tell about something that fascinates you…
I enjoy riding my motorcycle up to Mount Greylock. I think that a lot of people don’t realize how much open land our country actually has. It isn’t necessarily the best scene that amazes me but the feeling of serenity once I arrive at my destination. The view just adds to the experience.
I love adventures and meeting strangers. On one ride I chose to go to Daytona bike week. I took a side trip out to the pier later in the day and met two kids from Connecticut out there fishing. In spite of our age differences, I remember having a remarkable conversation. While we were talking, a piece of space junk flew across the sky and then exploded. Now that registers as an extraordinary ride, happy memory.
Tell about a path, trail or road you like in Granby…
Rte. 219 towards Riverton over the Rte. 318 road that goes over the reservoir. I take it every day from my house to the shop and then back again in the evening. I once saw a moose swimming in the water. Thought at first it was a large piece of driftwood until the antlers rose up from the lake.
Writers note: JD’s barber shop truly has atmosphere. On the walls are license plates from just about all the states, collections of fishing lures, mugs, photographs and model cars. My brother once had his haircut in an old-fashioned style barber shop in Disneyworld. Here in Granby we have that shop but the difference is that ours is authentic.
Manager/ Event Coordinator at Brignole Vineyards
Tell about how you arrived at your present occupation…
After I left high school I was a pre-law student in Boston. I had planned on being a lawyer but kept feeling pulled back to Granby and the business world.
When the vineyard was first being put together I became very interested in its design. Together with my father, I picked out the paneling, wall colors, furniture, etc. I had to interact daily with several construction workers and this led to a good comfort level as a manager and organizer. Timing was critical in those days; you had to have the right parts ready to put together in order to complete a project. It took a while for the doors to get in and this made it really hard for me to use the bathroom. Not easy when you’re the only woman around!
I like working with my family members because we can easily help each other if there is a problem. My brother makes the wine and my sister and I generally get to do the first tasting when new products are ready. (Of course, the rest of the family also casts their votes.) I can tell him the truth and be pretty descriptive, for example, when a sample is a rosé but dry and differs from other rosé wines.
Tell about something that fascinates you…
People fascinate me. Everyone has their own story and I enjoy hearing their tales. I think that a person’s life is like a puzzle that is coming together slowly and continuously.
I also especially enjoy it when people from other vineyards come here to talk shop. They show their support and we can compare technical notes.
Tell about a path, trail or road you like in Granby…
I really like driving along Quarry Road towards Hungary. I always notice the carved bear, farms and brook along the way. The bike path comes off of Quarry, which is lovely. The landscape is so pretty. Knowing this question was coming I took the long way into work just so I could follow Quarry and appreciate the drive.
Customer at a Granby store
On a random Friday this past November, a middle aged woman walked into McDonald’s early in the morning. She handed the cashier her credit card and told her that she wanted to pay for a cup of coffee for every senior that walked into McDonald’s the following Monday. She gave no reason and requested anonymity. Later when the clerk was asked about the woman’s appearance, the cashier could not recall any distinguishing features about the woman.
When Monday came people were surprised and thankful. It wasn’t so much the coffee but the fact that someone actually took the time to extend this gesture of kindness.
In my mind, the coffee lady is an iconic human of Granby. She represents so many of those people in our town that are sincere in their desire to help others and create smiles.
By Shirley Murtha
At the 29th annual Fall Quilt Happening at Lost Acres Orchard on Dec. 3, guests were amazed to see the more than 56 comforters that had been made for distribution to the victims of this fall’s devastating Tennessee fires. Around 70 volunteers contributed their time and effort to foster this program’s success. Some donate fabric, thread or batting, some cut fabric squares, others sew the squares together and still others layer the tops with batting and backing and “tie” the layers together.
Having had less than desirable results with other methods, Lost Acres’ Ginny Wutka makes sure the comforters are delivered in person, not sent to a distribution center. This insures that each piece is given directly to a grateful recipient.
There will always be national disasters, as well as shelters in need, so the Comforter Project is an ongoing effort. Readers who may want to join in should contact Wutka at email@example.com.
Other highlights of the fall Happening included a continuation of the discussion begun during the summer event regarding Barbara Brachman’s publication Facts and Fabrications: Unraveling the History of Quilts and Slavery. Various volunteer sewers are making the 20 blocks from the book’s sampler quilt. Four of these have been completed and were shown: Trip Around the World, North Star, Cabin Windows and Chain Star. Once all 20 are completed, the quilt will be assembled and displayed at Lost Acres.
Fifty-six comforters awaiting distribution to the victims of the Tennessee fires were on display at the Fall Quilt Happening at Lost Acres Orchard, all the result of volunteer effort.
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