Making "Maple," Hatching Chicks & Buying The Old Grange Hall

Dateline: 25 March 2006

We are waiting for spring to get going here and, hopefully, the sap will flow and we will be boiling maple syrup down. We’ve only had enough sap for one boiling and it resulted in 1/2 gallon of wonderfull sweetness, but that was a tease. If we had enough sap, a full day’s worth of boiling would give us one gallon plus. But the trees have not been yielding the sap... yet.

Cold nights and warm sunny days are what bring the sap flow. And the old timers say a coating of snow on the ground helps.


In other news, Marlene and the boys are gearing up to incubate some eggs in our styrofoam Hovabator incubator. We’ve had the thing for several years and have incubated several times with successes and failures.

Robert, my 15-year-old wants to sell some chicks that he incubates. He did that a couple years ago. We will incubate some of our own chicken eggs but they are mostly “mongrel” chickens. To get some purebred birds, we are getting some eggs from our neighbor down the road who has Marans. The Marans lay the dark, chocolate brown colored eggs. So that’s an exciting thing to anticipate.

This year we have outfitted our incubator with an automatic turner and a fan to circulate air. I actually bought the accessories last year but we never got to use them. Hopefully we will have more successes than failures with a little better equipment.


I posted a story here awhile back titled, The Wife of My Youth in which I told the tale of how Marlene and I met in high school and how we came to be married. In part of that story I mentioned how we had our wedding reception at the old Grange hall outside of Moravia. And as I reflected back on 25 years of marriage, I noted that a lot of things had changed, but the old Grange hall was still there and looked just like it always has.

Well, now the Grange is selling the building and two acres it sets on. There are not many Grange members left these days. Many are in their 80s. They have not met at the building for many years. These days they meet at Millstream Court, the senior citizen apartment building in Moravia.

Yesterday, Marlene and I and our boys went to look the old Grange building and property over. The Grangers bought the building in 1915. They have made a few improvements over the years, notably the kitchen and dining addition they put on in the mid 1970’s. But the building is not in particularly good shape. The roof is good and the foundation is sound but there are a few leaks and some rot and the paneling on the walls in the dining room has buckled and it smells a bit musty in there.

The building has some nice architectural detail but not much. It’s just a big, plain, practical, box of a place. In some respects, it’s more a barn than a house. It is not a building that anyone would really want to fix up and make into a home. I suppose a couple of apartments could go into it, but it would require a lot of work and money to make that happen. The lot it sets on is very nice. There is a good amount of road frontage, a very big lawn and a stream bordering both sides. In the 1970,s the Grangers built a public park along the larger stream, which rushes down the valley into Moravia, past Millstream Court. A little bit of woods come with the property in the back. More woodland goes on behind that. Fields are on either side and across the street. A modern house is kittycorner across the street.

We like the place and we’re thinking seriously about putting a purchase offer in on it. What would we do with it? Lots. I would till much of the big lawn into garden beds and grow garlic and other “crops.” The kitchen would be utilized by Marlene for her soapmaking and breadbaking, and I would be able to use it for processing my garlic powder. The rest of the upstairs and downstairs could be used as a larger workshop for me and my boys to build things—I’m thinking primarily of the chicken plucker parts I make and sell. And there will be other products related to other planbooks that I hope to publish one day. My small book publishing business is still small but it grows more each year and I have books and boxes and such stuffed everywhere in the small space of our home and my shop where we are now. An official office for Whizbang Books would be much nicer than the corner of our bedroom where I’m writing this blog entry.

The only drawback is that the place is about three miles from our house. But it is on the way to town and just a short ways off the main road. I would not do a lot to the old building. I would keep the grange sign on the front. I would keep the roof repaired. My boys would trap the skunks and other critters that we could see have taken up residence underneath the back of the building. Mostly, I would just keep the place in working repair and use the insides for all our family projects. And there is even plenty of room for a Ping-Pong table inside!

It’s fun to consider all the possibilities with a neat old place like that. Perhaps we will actually buy it and we will preserve a part of this community’s agrarian past. But maybe it won’t work out that way. Either way will be fine. The Lord will guide and direct the final outcome of this little matter and we are comfortable and content to go as He leads us.


KS Milkmaid said...

Praying that the Lord's will be done. Sounds like a neat opportunity.

Scott Holtzman said...

I like that last part:

I would just keep the place in working repair and use the insides for all our family projects.

That pretty much sums up how Brooke and I maintain our home that we purchased a year ago...working repair........and use the insides for all our family projects.

Sort of keeps it in perspectives as to the idea that we own a home, the home does not own us...the "Jones" who live next door we're not much interested in keeping up with (as they are not "headed our way" anyways) and we're not interested in "competition" as to who can own the newest thing-a-ma-jig out on the market. No one to impress.

In it we run our roasting operations with an outfitted downstairs apartment for my office space, out back is our garden & crop projects, and soon to be introduced to our 'Back 40' will be our poultry project. Makes it a home worth living & working in...........

Thanks Herrick.

Emily said...

My mom belongs to a grange. The members for the most part are elderly and there certainly aren't many - if any - active farmers left among them. For the most part they are considered an "good works" type organization. Seems like all the grange buildings I've seen - and there are many in these parts - look pretty much as you've described. The property sounds ideal for expanding your various enterprises, Herrick. I know the Lord will work out the details if it is in His will. God bless you and your family!

Patti said...

Sounds like a plan to me! sometimes if we have a place to go to work ,it seems more like "work" and the fact the whole family can work on projects there (is skunk catching a project???) make it even better!!!!

Patty said...

what a wonderful bit of history to own ! May the Lord guide you in this with clear direction. Sounds like a wonderful place with lots of potential. Could you sell your soap and things from there ? Have a little shop ?