Thursday, March 24, 2011

Keene NH's Stonewall Farm Hosts 12th Annual Sap Gathering Contest

Maple syrup season is in high gear here in the Monadnock Region of southern New Hampshire and if there’s one local event that really marks the spirit of this time honored tradition it’s the annual Sap Gathering Contest at Stonewall Farm in nearby Keene, NH. This year’s event will take place Saturday, March 26th from 10am-4pm.

This annual event draws beautiful and talented teams of draft horses from far and near to compete to see who can collect the most maple “sap” from buckets on a timed course. Stonewall’s sugar house will be in full operation demonstrating the process of transforming sap into syrup, there will be food available for sale to support the Walpole Grange, maple syrup sundaes, hayrides, obstacle courses and more. It’s a day full of high-spirited fun that has become one of Stonewall Farms’ signature events.

Saturday’s weather is forecasted to be ideal for maple sap to flow so there’s no reason not to come on out and for a day of fun and support one of our local treasures. Admission for 6 and up is $5 with reduced admission and a free hayride for Stonewall members. If you’d like to get away and spend the weekend at our organic farm so you can fully enjoy the maple season, our winter cottage rates are still in effect. Hope to see you at the farm!

Innkeeper The Inn at Valley Farms

Thursday, March 17, 2011

New Hampshire and Vermont Maple Sugar Weekend

Warm temperatures over the last few days have kicked the late starting 2011 New Hampshire and Vermont maple sugar season into high gear! Just in time for the area's annual Maple Sugar Weekend this Saturday, March 19th and Sunday, March 20th, 2011. Dozens of sugar houses across both states will open their doors this weekend to celebrate the sticky goodness of New England’s sweetest tradition. Tour sugar houses, watch maple sap transform into liquid gold, sample fresh maple syrup as well as other maple products.  Some sugar houses will offer pancake breakfasts, horse-drawn rides, farm animals, crafts, and more.

Local Sugar houses including Stuart and John’s in Westmoreland and Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH as well as Sweet Maple Alpacas in Westminster and Robb Family Farm in Brattleboro, VT are among those participating in the annual event. Check the New Hampshire Maple Producers and Vermont Maple Producers site for a more complete list of participating sugar houses. Take advantage of our special winter rates and come spend one sweet weekend! This harbinger of spring is truly one of my very favorite gifts of nature and one not to be missed!

Also, don’t forget next weekend’s annual Sap Gathering contest at Stonewall Farm in nearby Keene, NH!

Innkeeper The Inn at Valley Farms

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Winter Storm has a Silver Lining

This winter has been "one to remember" to say the least! I don’t know what the total snow accumulation for our area has been so far, but I think it’s safe to say we’ve received much more of the fluffy white stuff this year than we have received in the past few years combined. And now that we’re into March and all anxiously awaiting spring, winter seems to be rearing its head once again – yesterday’s storm caused extensive damage affecting thousands of area residents, but as I awoke this morning and peered outside I couldn’t help but be amazed at the beauty of the aftermath – clear blue sky, white puffy clouds and the way the rising sun was illuminating the ice covered trees was truly a sight to be seen! Is this Mother Nature's way of saying she's sorry?
View towards Sunnyside Farmhouse

I’m not sure any of us were prepared for the storm that hit our region Sunday night into Monday. Excessive rain combined with snow melt and runoff caused vast power outages throughout the state, flooding, some school closings, downed trees, and slippery road conditions. Here in Walpole, NH a combination of rain and freezing rain fell while nearby Keene, NH received all rain and just north of us received two additional feet of snow!

Here at the inn we lost power for about 5 hours and the basement of the inn flooded, but worst of all a very large limb from our 200+ year old Sugar Maple tree is now resting precariously on the roof of the inn. Luckily the limb did not pierce the inn’s roof or smash any windows, but the height of the remaining snow piles and the surrounding water logged ground is presenting quite a challenge to remove it safely. I guess I’m looking forward to spring more than I thought!
Broken Limb from our 200+ year old Sugar Maple tree
Fallen tree limb "resting" on the inn 

Innkeeper The Inn at Valley Farms