Forest Grove Trailer Park Ontario, N. Y. 14519
Most of the boys and girls of today have never had the chore of filling the wood box. It always seemed an endless task; every morning and night it had to be done. We were lucky--in our family, splitting the wood was a man's job, so I never had to do that.
Every winter, my Dad and the hired man would go to the woods, between morning and night chores, and fell the trees for the next years wood supply. In those days there were no power saws, so they used the crosscut saw and an axe. The axe was used to make a deep gash on the side of the tree in the direction it was supposed to fall. Then it was sawed almost through from the other side. Usually it fell where it was supposed to. Once in a while it lodged in another tree and then it was a highly dangerous job to get it down. Many people have been seriously hurt with a tree falling on them. The trees were then trimmed of the small branches and limbs. It was then cut into managable lengths. When enough trees were cut, a few days were spent with a team of horses skidding them out of the woods and piling them. Later on, the buzz saw, powered with a gasoline engine or a tractor, was used to cut the logs and branches into suitable length for the stoves.
Then came the chore of loading the chunks into the wagon and filling the woodshed. This is where my sister and I were recruited to help. This was done in the summer, when the woodshed was empty after a cold winter. We had the job of piling the wood in the woodshed, making neat rows up to the roof. My Dad was never satisfied until it was full. The split wood was put on one side for the kitchen stove and the chunks for the living room stove were put on the other side. Then he was satisfied that the wood for the coming winter was under cover-- none of this cutting wood and burning it green.
We never made maple syrup at home. I had an uncle who made it a few years and it was a big treat to go visiting there and watch them. As soon as it warmed up a bit in the spring, with sunny days and freezing nights, we knew the sap was running in the hard maples.
Maple products, along with honey, are the oldest known sweets in the north. The Indians showed the white settlers how to make a deep gash in the bark and catch the running sap in a bowl or gourd. They would evaporate the sap by dropping hot stones into it or by boiling it. This was very wasteful, but at that time there were many maples, so it didn't matter.
The northern Indians used maple syrup in almost everything they ate. Soon the settlers improved on their methods. They used spiles made of sumac. One end was sharpened to fit the hole bored in the tree. A small hole was made through the spile with a red hot iron. Wooden buckets were used to catch the sap. Later on, metal spiles could be bought and metal buckets were used.
The sap was gathered once or twice a day into cans or a tank which was hauled through the woods on a sleigh drawn by horses. It was taken to the sap house and stored in a large tank until ready to boil. When the weather was just right and the sap was running full stream, it was necessary to boil 24 hours a day. When the syrup was almost thick enough, it was taken to the house where it was finished to just the right consistency. It was poured into cans ready for the market, or boiled down and made into maple sugar.
Usually there were maple sugar parties. Several pans were packed with clean white snow. Then the hot syrup was drizzled over the snow. It congealed into a soft candy which was delicious and never to be forgotten. Another treat was a saucerful of thickened syrup, which when stirred rapidly, became a soft sugar which would melt in your mouth.
The most popular use for maple syrup is on waffles and pancakes. Another favorite is using the syrup for a baste on baked ham, and poured over vanilla ice cream.
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 egg, well beaten
2 1/3 cup sifted flour 1 tsp. baking soda
1? tsp. ginger
? tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. melted butter or margarine.
Blend syrup with cream and egg. Sill dry ingredients and stir into syrup mixture. Add butter and beat thoroughly, Pour into an 8 x 12' baking pan, lined with greased brown paper. Bake in moderate oven (350 degrees) 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
This photo was taken after a snow storm in Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania in early October of 1938.
It shows my father's rig, consisting of 28-50 Hart-Parr tractor and a 16 inch Denlinger silage cutter.
A snapshot taken at R & T Museum at Kinzers, Pennsylvania - forty years difference. A late model 1200 Case belonging to Arthur S. Young Company, Kinzers and a 1928 model, 12-20 Hp. crossmount Case belonging to L. B. Ebersol. Restored about 1963. That's a 10-20 Titan tractor in the background.
by Mrs. Dorothy B. Smith, Ontario, N.Y. 14519
The following copy is sent in with the permission of Mr. J.J. Stephens, Service Office Manager of the Briggs and Stratton Corp., Milwaukee, Wise. Mr. Stephens was very helpful to Paul in the restoration of two of his Briggs engines. We regret that the pictures sent with the article will not reproduce.