Our ranch in Upstate New York is our major base of operations for the majority of our farming year. While we graze our animals in the south in winter due to the deep cold of the North which is too hard on our livestock, the cost prohibitive wildly expensive electric costs for our barns and outbuildings in NY, and the need to defray hay costs for a six month winter, we spend the majority of our farming year outside of winter at our NY ranch property. In New York we run a livestock, forestry and apiary operation. This explains why our farm business is called HiBar Ranch, Farm and Forest as we embrace a medley of farming operations in our diversified farm business.
Well, it is always a trick to know when the NY ranch is ready to begin it’s spring season. Over the last few days My husband and his son Zach have seen a great deal of snow fall here in the Adirondacks, dampening but not stopping our farm efforts.
OUR BEE APIARY
Fortunately, our bee apiary survived the winter in tact, with our bee colonies busily humming about foraging. Our bees produce the most amazingly flavored honey due to the extremely long honey season in the Adirondacks. The bees literally forage from early spring starting on willow and maple, moving into clover and on into the summer wildflower blooms, then on into fall with ragweed. I think the Adirondacks have one of the longest seasons for bees and provide such a wide array of flowers for the bees to forage on, which all impacts the flavor of our honey. We will be selling our honey for the first time this season as it’s taken a couple of years to get our bee colonies up and running.
OUR MAPLE SUGAR BUSH
Two years ago we decided to get into the sugar bush business with a large stand of maple trees that are nearly ready to begin harvesting sap for maple syrup on our ranch. It takes several years to clear the woods to open up the tree canopy for the maples to get sunlight, without doing damage to the ecosystem around the trees and the trees themselves. The clearing of forest is a loving effort that we do in both fall and spring to assure the best habitat for the sugar bush. All our trees on our property have been tagged over the last two years to mark their location. We currently have approximately 200 maple trees that will be part of the sugar bush. This spring we will do more tending to the burgeoning sugar bush.
CUSTOM LUMBER & MILLING (Forestry)
Our ranch boasts extraordinary pine, cherry and poplar stands that we sell for custom lumber and milling. My husband’s portable custom mill is used to process the logs at both our ranch and farm or at other locations at the request of our customers. We also have access to gnarly tree trunks & roots at the ranch from upturned trees, which are ideal for furniture craftsman specializing in ‘Adirondack design’. These tree bases are used for tables and lamp bases and can sell for thousands of dollars for raw materials and tens of thousands of dollars for the finished master craftman piece of furniture art. Spring is the time we wade into our woods and monitor the tree downfall that has uprooted new works of art in the form of tree roots. Upon snow melt later this spring, we will trek into the woods to assess inventory availability for our local craftsman and our own wood projects.
BARN & INFRASTRUCTURE PREP
Mike and Zach have cleaned and prepped all the facilities – stalls cleaned, pipes confirmed in good working condition with no leaks due to winter freeze, assessment of hay still available from last year’s harvest to assure feed until the fields turn green, the first round of ‘turns’ to the horse manure pile as the winter’s snow and last fall’s heat has turned a huge pile of manure into beautiful compost for sale to customers and for our own fields and much much more.
The tractor rumbles on for the first time, grumbling under the weighted chill of winter’s last cold blast. Some of our meat rabbits we allow to range free usually hop around the barns letting us know they are thriving. Our narragansett turkeys we allowed to roam have merged with our native wild flock here at the ranch. They visit periodically to check in on free grain availability or do they stick to their native wild diet.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when spring in the North Country seems to take its own sweet time. With logs on the fire heating the farm house to ward of the chill of winter, Mike looks on with excitement to another season here at HiBar Ranch.
While there is snow in the mountains and on the ground now. The pictures below capture what we wait for — gorgeous summer & fall days — beautiful beyond compare. Welcome to the High Peaks of The Adirondacks in Upstate New York.
But until we get those lovely colors happening later this season, we leave you with another beautiful shot of HiBar Ranch with snow.
God Bless~ L. Davis