Autumn Cabin Rental Adventures in Central NY

Fall hay ride enjoyed by Wellnesste Lodge Cabin Rental Guests in Taberg, Central NY
Fall hay ride enjoyed by Wellnesste Lodge Cabin Rental Guests in Taberg, Central NY
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The Coming of Fall & the Pleasures of Change

We, who are fortunate enough to live in the northeastern United States, are blessed with four distinctive seasons of change. Just as spring evokes our senses with the color of wildflowers and migrant birds, so does autumn with falling leaves and crisp nights. The fall is a time for quiet walks in the woods; crisp evenings under the stars by the campfire; fresh apple cider; hay rides and flocks of geese overhead.

At Wellnesste Lodge, one of the autumn traditions for our family and for our many cabin rental guests is to make the annual pilgrimage to the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY. There, every year, hundreds of volunteers put together what is known as the “Annual Harvest Fest”. Visitors enjoy old fashioned horse-drawn hay rides through the grounds of the living museum and see pristine buildings preserved over hundreds of years… the old school house; the blacksmith’s shop; the apothecary; the granary and dozens of other treasures are all open for exploration. Inside the buildings you’ll find volunteers/ craftsmen (and women) in period dress performing their specialties just like generations have before them.

Out-of-doors you can wander the gravel paths and browse dozens of local merchants’ tents to find sweet New York maple syrup, apples, craft cheeses, ripened gourds & pumpkins, homemade jams, hand knit sweaters and so much more. The wonder of farm life is alive at this harvest fest and connects every visitor to the roots that made this country great in its infancy and still provides nourishment to all of us to this day.

Milking the cows at the harvest fest in Central New York.

Milking the cows at the harvest fest in Central New York.

Fall harvest fest enjoyed by Wellnesste Lodge Guests.

Fall harvest fest enjoyed by Wellnesste Lodge Guests.

Another favorite sight here is the ability to see children of all ages enjoying the many farm animals roaming about. You’ll witness animals that have been raised since birth as prized members of Central New York farm families and are brought here to “show off’ and share with the attending public. Farm fauna including cows, bulls, pigs, goats, oxen and sheep are a pleasure to enjoy and snap a candid photo with.

The small children love to walk about the courtyards amongst free range chickens. They’re also thrilled by the gobbling turkeys and enthusiastic quacking of the farm’s ducks. Perhaps the most treasured of the children’s animal interactions is the ability for everyone to try their luck at milking a cow by hand (a task that’s certain to connect both young and old to our ancestor’s farming roots).

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The fresh air and milling about is sure to make your belly rumble and your thirst long for something wet to down. Fear not for no one should go hungry or thirsty at this harvest fest as there is fare for all to enjoy. Pick up a cup of hot beef barley soup cooked in a cast iron pot over an open fire. Or perhaps enjoy an ear of delicious roasted corn dipped in butter- a cardiologist’s delight! An old fashioned SaranacGinger beer or Root beer is the perfect libation to wash those goodies down and a slice of homemade apple pie with fresh whipped cream is a must to top off your bellies’ delight.

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There are countless other fun things to do here at the annual harvest fest and there’s literally something for everyone to enjoy. Perhaps the reason we love this time of year and this tradition so much is because it gives us the opportunity to enjoy the cool air, fresh smells, gorgeous autumn foliage and time together as a family. That, after all is what I believe the founding fathers likely had in mind- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (on a fall afternoon in beautiful Upstate NY).

Maple Syrup in Central NY

Maple Syrup Products in Central NY
Maple Syrup Products in Central NY

What’s brown, sweet and sticky all over; originates from the days before white settlers ever stepped foot in the Americas and is unique in all of the world to the northeastern portion of North America? Maple syrup of course. An Afternoon Adventure Yesterday, we visited the Link Maple Farm in Taberg, NY. As we approached the farm, wood smoke wafted from the chimney stack as snow flurries slowly descended from the partly-cloudy heavens. The minute we got out of our car, the sweet smell of maple syrup was in the air. The scent intensified when we opened the sugar shack door and a pleasingly sweet plume of steam greeted us. Once inside we enjoyed learning about the maple production, the industry and some history. Here are some highlights about what we locals refer to as brown gold…

Origins The sweet juice of the gods with its original caramelized flavor dates back eons as Native Americans learned to harvest maple sap thousands of years ago. They would make small v-shaped cuts with stone tools in Sugar Maple trees in order to lap up and harvest the trees’ sweet sap (which they called “sweet water”). Over time, this particularly sweet sap, which traditionally runs in February, March and early April, has been enjoyed by millions around the world. This, all thanks to the sharing of the Sugar Maple secret by northeastern tribes with their white brethren in the early days of colonization (historians estimate that by the early 1680’s European settlers were harvesting and making maple products).

Since those early days, Maple Syrup has become a staple of American and European households. It has also held a historical significance during times of sugar shortages such as the Civil War when sugar cane (a primary crop of the southern United States harvested by slaves) became unavailable. It also played a significant role during World War II when American sugar rations were in place. In both instances families, businesses and the government used maple syrup as a sweetening substitute for sugar.

The Modern Importance of Maple SyrupToday, the maple industry is primarily driven by small family-owned operations in New York, Vermont and Maine. In Taberg, NY the Link Family has been operating their Maple Syrup business for 11 years. With growing demand for maple syrup around the world, operations such as a the Link Family Maple Farm have managed to find a sweet niche in a rural Americana landscape. “For three months out of the year, we work very hard from sun-up to sometimes past midnight harvesting and cooking,” said Jon Link at the farm’s annual open house (Mr. Link was first introduced to the concept of maple syrup making as a boy when his family collected sap in a few buckets and boiled it in a kettle in the backyard).

Jon Link talking about how to make real maple syrup in Taberg NY
Jon Link talking about how to make real maple syrup in Taberg NY
Real Maple Syrup in Upstate New York
Real Maple Syrup in Upstate New York
Boiling map sap into real maple syrup in taberg ny- central new york
Boiling map sap into real maple syrup in taberg ny- central new york

Wow! I did not know that… It takes some 40-50 gallons of sap to boil down into just one gallon of maple syrup. The process- from tapping the trees, to the collection of sap into containers, to transporting, to filtration, boiling and packaging is a labor of love for the Links and other area farmers. Upstate New York Maple producers such as those in Taberg, Blossvale and Camden are a vital part of the local economy as well as its heritage. Maple syrup production also plays an important part in providing additional income to many northeastern dairy farmers. Such farmers often have a side business in maple production during the months of Feb thru April.

Don’t fall for the fake stuffAs consumers continue towards healthier trends and look to “go green and lean”, many have cut store-bought products with low nutritional value out of their diets. Interestingly, most of the so called “Maple Syrup” sold in stores today (i.e. – products such as Aunt Jemima) are fakes. Instead of real maple syrup, these “fakies” are a mixture of high-fructose corn syrup (a leading culprit of the obesity epidemic) and artificial flavors. Such misleading marketing has created quite the uproar with consumers. Some folks have even gone as far as boycotting some brands altogether and starting Facebook campaigns such as “Just Say No to Fake Maple Syrup

Maple syrup open house at the link farm in taberg ny
Maple syrup open house at the link farm in taberg ny

Nutrition In addition to the fact that real maple syrup beats out the faux dirty brown goop in bottles at the local grocers, it also holds the distinction of being “all natural”. Since real syrup is harvested from one of Mother Nature’s sweetest trees (the sugar maple) and the sap of the sugar maple is the lifeblood of the trees, it also has a unique nutritional content. In fact, real maple syrup has been proven to have important naturally occurring minerals including Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium and Zinc. That’s yet another thing that fake products just can’t provide.

Conclusion Well… on this little Central New York adventure, we learned a bunch about Maple Syrup, history and production. Our eyes were also opened up to the grass roots revolution that’s driving “fakies” off the shelf and putting an emphasis on the real stuff. If you and your loved ones have never taken the time to visit a real sugar shack, I hope that this article will inspire you to do just that. It’s truly a unique North American experience that connects us to our past and helps to keep the mom & pop farms of the red, white and blue going.

As usual- we’ve got a cabin waitin’ for ya, Christophe & Family

P.S. - If you or a loved one has fallen victim to fake maple syrup in your fridge or pantry, don’t panic. Take immediate action by dumping that ill-flavored junk down the drain. As soon as you’ve disposed of that artificial rubbish, go out and get yourself some authentic delicious New York Maple Syrup from a family owned retailer near you. Combining some real syrup with a couple of flapjacks, should help alleviate any emotional or physical harm brought on by by the fakies of the world!

A Vigil Host

The wind blows cold both far and near

October’s come ‘nother year

As colors blaze upon the hills

The summer’s corn …headed for the mills

Maple red and Oak of brown

Yellow of Birch blow all around

I watch the colors in the breeze

Perched on the steps …below the trees

By day I sit …and I spy

The local landscape changing by

At night I give off spooky glows

To ghouls and goblins down below

Some shout out “Jack!”

Some scream out “O”!

Some squeal “A Lantern”!

But they all know

That it’s just me on Hallow’s Eve

Sitting pretty as I please

So go on children …seek tricks …and seek treats

Go door-to-door for snacks & sweets

I’ll sit on steps- lit all aglow

When you return- just let me know

It’s Halloween! you witches you vampires …and you ghosts

And your ‘ol friend Jack-O-Lantern Stands vigil as your host

~ Christophe Marin ~