All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Saturday, December 5th, 2020

Dodger’s barking up the right maple tree!

I’M BACK!

It has been my winter of discontent. My buddy Dave left me for most of the winter as he decided to travel without me. A winter in Picton can be a long and boring experience. I think I must have been suffering from SADS as I could not bring myself to blog about anything.

However, on the Monday I was outside doing my business, which is finding new and creative ways to destroy Dave’s lawn, and suddenly I was inspired by the first sign of spring. Right outside my door, cruising down the harbour past the cement plant was an ice breaker. It was a brilliant red against the grey sky and grey ice and grey trees and I could believe that the world would soon be green again.

Dave tells me that this first harbinger of spring was the Martha L Black an ice breaker first commissioned in 1986 and named after a woman who was a legend of the Canadian North. Beginning as a gold prospector in the Yukon in 1900, Martha Black raised three boys as a single mom and went on to become an independent business woman running a sawmill and gold processing plant. She later became the second woman elected to the Canadian Parliament when she was elected to represent the Yukon at the age of 70. Apparently she did most of her campaigning for election on foot.

Ok – so when I heard about that I figured that if this Canadian Legend could do all this in the frozen north and not be paralyzed by the weather and lack of sun I could get off my doggy bed and start blogging again. Thank you Martha!!

As a start to my spring adventures Dave and I headed out to visit some of the sites for this weekend’s Maple in the County. There is no better way to shake off the winter blues than to get out and take part in the local sap running and all the activities associated with it. Sponsored by the Waring House and the local producers of maple syrup, this is the tenth year that people from around the province find yet another reason to invade the County. This year there are 35 different sites that will be featuring events around the theme of maple syrup production.

My first stop was at the sugar shack of a County legend, Mr. Clifford Foster, the patriarch of Fosterholm farms, the largest producer of maple syrup in the County. Clifford is a great guy to visit as he loves dogs and has a big old Great Dane called Caanan who I love to torment. But I digress (a habit associated with spring fever). Clifford and his family having been producing syrup since 1924 and today he and his son Dean tap about 7,000 trees. Clifford was smiling big time when I went to visit as he said that this is a great year with lots of sap and excellent quality syrup. On Saturday and Sunday he will be hosting his annual pancake breakfast in his sugar shack on East Lake Road. It starts at 8 a.m. and runs all day.

To get some idea of how Maple in the County has grown in the last ten years you have to hear Clifford talk about it. Ten years ago Clifford and his family, using his mother’s home made pancake recipe, had 250 visitors to the sugar shack for breakfast. Last year the number had grown to an astonishing 2,000. Our visit with Clifford was cut short because this 80 year old dynamo was heading out with a shopping list for the weekend: 60 pounds of butter, 150 kilos of flour, 60 gallons of milk, 120 dozen farm fresh eggs and of course 108 liters of maple syrup. I was inspired by his energy and enthusiasm and felt a little foolish that I had slept by the fire for most of the winter.

My buddy Dave and I headed down the road to the longest running producer of syrup in the County, Vaderdale farms on County Road 18 near the east end of Sandbanks park.  This is the home of Arnold and Mary Vader whose family have been in maple syrup production for 101 years in this location. While son Todd and a variety of family members now take on the bulk of syrup production in their modern facility, Mary Vader still makes maple butter and maple candy the old fashioned way using arm strong stirring. Arnold can still be found taking syrup off from buckets hung from trees around the farm and delivering product to customers around the County. On Saturday and Sunday their farm will be open for visitors to view the production of syrup and Tyler Lester will be on hand making kettle corn flavoured with syrup. There is also a rumour that Arnold will be making maple toffee despite government regulations that it can’t be made the traditional way by pouring the syrup on snow. Talk about a country that is over regulated!! But Arnold has been preparing a secret method so that visitors can try this traditional treat.

Our trip continued with a stop at Lockyers Flower shop where Greg Moore was busy in the green house getting ready for spring planting. Walking in there was like taking a holiday to the tropics. My buddy Dave knows all about that as he spent most of the winter somewhere warm (sorry I digress and am still bitter about being left behind).  Anyway Greg is assisting the Hallowell fire department as they get ready for their annual fundraising event – a maple syrup pancake breakfast held at Honey Wagon Farms.  Greg is another good buddy of mine and he has a great golden retriever called Barkley who is a fixture at the greenhouse (did I digress again?). Greg told me that the proceeds from the breakfast will go toward buying new fire rescue equipment. A great cause run by a great bunch of volunteers who provide an essential service to the County.

This is a super breakfast with pancakes, bacon, sausage, beans, maple syrup, tea coffee, and juice for only $10 for adults and $6 for kids. The fun starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday and continues until 4 p.m.

Hosting this event are Ed and Sandi Taylor, owners of Honey Wagon Farms and producers of maple syrup in Prince Edward County for the past dozen years. Ed uses this annual event to clean out his drive shed where tables are set for the breakfast around a wood burning potbelly stove. This is a cozy place to visit as Ed and Sandi still collect sap with buckets and fire their boiler with wood. Take my word for it there is no better place to go for a walk in the woods than this beautiful setting.

My buddy Dave and I finished our spring tour by taking a walk around the Picton Golf and Country club. Dave was checking out the grounds to see how the greens had survived the winter and I was hunting for golf balls that have been buried all winter. We stopped into the View Restaurant at the club to visit with our friend Christian Rheinhardt, the executive chef who was busy preparing for Countylicious. He’s another dog lover with two goldens called Gizmo and Guillermo. For this spring event which starts this Thursday (March 24) he has created a great new menu featuring local products. Of course he has included maple syrup in his maple buttermilk pudding cake and his maple tart tatin. Reservations are needed for this fixed price menu ($30) by calling 613-476-2222. The full menu can be viewed on the County•licious website and it looks like a surefire winner. A special shout out will be sent in my next blog to anyone who can identify the terms “millefeuille” and “tatin” – without going to Google.

Spring is here and I am glad to be back blogging on countylive.

A word of caution to all dog lovers – My Buddy Dave found a tick buried in the top of my head today March 23rd.  The temperature was -4 c when we walked so where the little bugger came from I don’t know, but it hurt like a bitch (sorry mom) when Dave removed it. Is this global warning or a sign of the Apocalypse?

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  1. Delgados says:

    Sounds like you have had many great adventures! We feel lucky that you have had the time to come and visit us as well. Looking forward to heading down to the county; as your blog inspired us to make a trip. Perhaps next year we will make it for Maple in the County.

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