Last week, after seeing Dani's pictures on flickr of her trip to the Log Farm Sugarbush, I made a last minute decision to head out with the boys. I decided around 8:30am and hoped to be out there by 9:30ish to beat the rush. We didn't actually get there til almost 11am, because we were waiting on some friends who we invited (also last minute) but it was so much more fun to have this pile of kids along (their moms are pretty good company too!). Since we have so many friends who do school at home, there's always a good chance of finding someone to share our extra-curricular activities with.
Notice whose kids are NOT smiling nicely for the picture? Yeah. They're mine.
After a yummy breakfast of pancakes (I'd thought ahead a brought a couple GF ones for Simon and Andrew), sausage, eggs, hashbrowns, juice, coffee, hot chocolate and loads of fresh fruit (that I'd cut up and brought cause I'm super mom), we headed out in search of the farm and the sugar maples. It was a bit of a hike through a wooded area (around puddles, through mud and over a little bridge) and then across a big field, but it gave the kids the chance to burn off the gallons of pure maple syrup they'd consumed at breakfast. And run they did.
Notice the grey sky in the picture above? That'll change.
The Log Farm was built in the 1850s and several of the original buildings remain. The main house/cabin is set up with period furniture, tools and "appliances". Apparently the parents had nine children, however I believe several of them died very young. There was also a neat "summer kitchen" which I think is a FABULOUS idea.
I think I could possibly photograph old buildings all day long. So full of texture and depth. LOVE. IT. And see what I meant about the sky? It was such an amazing day to be out. Just beautiful.
The farm is also residence to a couple completely oblivious to children friendly potbellied pigs, a goat, sheep and cows, a pony and some nimble chickens and roosters.
See the rooster? See those kids chasing the rooster? Yeah. They're mine.
For the record, they never did catch the rooster, who was obviously used to being chased and was more than able to evade his pursuers. He had a major advantage over all the little chicken-hunters in their squelchy, mud-covered rubber boots.
The pigs stayed much more stationary and all the kids enjoyed getting right up close to them.
See the pot belly??
Did I mention the mud yet? Cause letmetellyou THERE. WAS. MUD. It was quite a while before we even found enough dry ground to let the babies out to walk a bit. Poor guys. Kids running everywhere, screaming, laughing, chasing chickens, and them strapped in their strollers.
Do I see a new header image??
More old buildings. More blue sky. (le sigh) Did a little faux HDR on this image? Thoughts? Too much?
All of the kids went nuts over the pony and their ability to feed him hay (after a brief discussion over the difference between hay and straw and what a pony will and will not find appetizing). We might've even snuck him a few apple slices that were left over from breakfast. Shhhhh. I even managed to get a picture with all eight kids in it! No easy feat.
Andrew was particularly amazed. I have some cute video of him trying to feed the pony... but -let's face it- I'm not likely to get it uploaded any time soon. If I ever do, I'll post it here. Don't hold your breath.
Simon and Liam checking out the calf, who eventually came around to be fawned over.
Can I take a moment here to ask other moms-of-boys... WHAT IS IT ABOUT BOYS AND STICKS? I know you can poke stuff and hit stuff, pretend that they're swords, use them as walking sticks... I get it. I do. I guess I've just never been quite so passionately enamoured with a skinny piece of wood as this child. Of mine.
(Even as I'm writing this, he's standing over my shoulder saying, "That was a great stick. (heavy sigh) If we ever go back, I'm going to find it and bring it home with me.")
On our trek out to the sugar maples, we waded through more mud, around more puddles, and over another bridge. And we met the goat. But don't let this picture of Alexis and the goat fool you. That was THE ONLY PATCH OF DRY GROUND in the whole place. Promise. This is NOT INDICATIVE of what we walked and pushed/pulled/dragged/carried the strollers through all day.
But it was all worth it to arrive at the end of the trail and be greeted by this...
mmmmm, maple taffy!
After collecting the sap, boiling it down into maple syrup and then boiling it down to that thick, golden, sludgy-looking deliciousness pictured above, they pour it onto snow to chill, sticking in popsicle sticks and rolling the taffy before it's completely set.
Guess who was first in line?
licking his stick clean
Does Liam sort of look like an albino in the picture to the left?
Obviously I'm still adjusting to the shaved head...
I love the two pictures in the middle row taken just after Andrew's first taste
when he's realizing how super good this weird brown stuff on a stick really is.
Remi, sitting with his beautiful ma tante Kim, was as equally pleased with his taffy.
After eating two or three sticks each, the kids picked up aluminum buckets and headed out to collect sap from collector buckets hung on the maple trees scattered throughout the forest. The fellow manning the sap station warned us that the kids wouldn't find full buckets, but the quantity they collect DID. NOT. MATTER. They had an absolute blast running through the trees from tree to tree and finding an ounce here and an ounce there.
These are what they were after...
I like this picture...
and this one too.
See how much fun they had? I even let Andrew out of the stroller to toddle through the trees. There was such a thick carpet of leaves on the ground that, even with his many falls and trips over tree roots, he still loved it. LOVED. IT.
Simon spilled more sap than the actually collected (it's tricky trying to keep up with older kids while carrying a bucket that's almost half your size through a forest full of hidden tree roots), but that didn't seem to affect his enthusiasm.
My kids have cute friends, eh?
La belle Jade with her bucket of sap, and then with her
mom (my friend Kim) and brother, Timothy.
After sufficiently filling their buckets with sap, each child got to empty theirs into a large tub where it was filtered and then boiled down into pure maple syrup. Aunt Jemima's got nothin' on this stuff. We've been using maple syrup as our primary sweetener for the better part of a year now, and I can hardly stomach table syrup anymore. Yes it's more expensive BUT IT'S AMAZING.
Look! I even managed to get into a picture!
After once again braving the boot-sucking, mud-filled trail back to the farm, the kids humoured me and let me take a picture of them and their muddy boots (and knees, in Simon's case... bum too, but it's not pictured).
If you're going to visit a sugarbush, this is the way to do it. Tasty maple-syrup-smothered food, gorgeous weather, amazing friends, lots of running around and fresh air, and actually getting to be part of the sap collection process. A huge thank you to Dani for the heads up on this one. My boys will never forget it.
(If I counted right, there are 89 pictures in this post?! Too much?? It is a bit of overkill, eh... Sorry. I couldn't help myself.)