We used to look forward to the arrival of cooler weather. Football, basketball, hunting season, and the holidays were right around the corner. Also, we usually tried to grind cane to make syrup.
I was old enough to remember the fun of cane grinding, but not old enough to have to do the tedious preparation.
After consulting with my Aunt, she reminded me of all the work involved to produce just a few gallons of syrup.
Several days of preparations were needed:
Washing the kettle,
washing and drying the bottles for the syrup,
gathering several truckloads of wood for the fire,
washing the utensils used for the syrup making,
cutting, stacking and covering the cane until needed,
oiling, cleaning and preventive maintenance on the grinder, etc., etc., etc.
Then, the actual fun could begin.
Friends, family and neighbors would gather and spend most of the day feeding the fire and cooking the juice.
First we had to load the cane into the grinder.
The juice would come out of the side discharge.
The fodder would come out of the far end of the grinder.
But the kids were able to play games between hauling loads of fodder to the back woods.
Hauling the fodder was an adventure too.
We would use an old car hood and load the fodder as high as we could.
Then, the tractor could pull the loaded car hood.
Several kids would ride on the car hood and try to keep the fodder from falling off.
The tractor had to drive slow or lose the kids.
Meanwhile, the adults were busy grinding, feeding the fire and cooking the juice.
We usually had enough juice to make two batches.
After some research, I found that each 100 pounds should make 50 pounds of juice.
50 pounds of juice should make 3 pounds of syrup!
But, we like thicker than average syrup!
So, we needed several tons to make enough syrup for the friends and family and neighbors.
Everybody left with syrup or juice or some cane to chew.
I remember one year when the kids were hauling the fodder and after they returned, they were told a fox had been shot just a few feet from the crowd of people.
It was never proved, but we suspected the fox had rabies!
If you ever have the opportunity, try to go to a cane grinding!
Thanks for allowing me to share some memories.