Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Molasses (Them shore is good)

I haven't seen Declan have more fun than he did on Saturday when he "helped" make molasses. His sister, Lily Grace, sat on the wagon and helped by sucking the sweetness from a short piece of cane. It was one of those rare brisk and sunny fall days that have become even rarer this autumn. Our three-year-old grandson was having the time of his life feeding cane into the mule-powered press.

The molasses making has become an annual October ritual at the farm of one of our neighbors. They both are getting well on in years, but with the help of their offspring, each year they plant a patch of cane in the spring. Then, on one weekend in the fall the hard work begins. They cut the cane with a knife, strip the leaves from the canes, and load it onto a wagon to be taken to the press and kiln.

Neighbors arrive mid-morning on Saturday with covered dishes for the noon meal. The mule is hitched to a long pole that powers the press as the mule circles. A hot fire is built under the long cooking pan that will reduce the thin cane juice to a thick golden molasses. There is dinner on the grounds, lots of visiting between neighbors, and the aromatic steam from the cooker scenting the fall air. The older kids sometimes get to ride the mule.

Sadly, last Saturday may have been the last time we will make molasses in our neighborhood. The hosts are getting older and even with lots of help, the responsiblity of the event tires them considerably. It will be a loss for all of us. Likely, this old-fashioned process will only seen only as an attraction at country fairs and festivals.

From the Hills, The Hired Man, Missus, and young folk

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