She-sheds becoming more popular in rural areas
By Beth Scott
FRESNO – Ever since a popular insurance company ran
an ad on television about a she-shed, the trend has
become quite popular. Even social media has explod-
ed with she-shed tips and ideas with many pages and
groups dedicated to the new concept.
Ben and Phyllis Harstine recently turned an old stor-
age building into Phyllis’ she-shed, a place where she
can go to relax that is her space and hers alone.
“I started fi lling it with stuff that was here,” she said.
“I would be down with Ben working on the tractors
and looking around the barn. I found old tools that Ben
didn’t use so I asked him if I could hang them in there.”
Phyllis has many items that mean a lot to her in her
she-shed. A chicken crate that used to be used to haul
chickens, John Deere pocket ledgers, an old Carl’s Feed
Sack, and most notably, a restored 1967 Minneapolis
Moline lawn mower that was featured on the cover of
Th e MM Corresponder in August 2018.
“It’s fun and interesting to see how many ladies would
like to have their own space,” said Phyllis.
One of the more unique items in Phyllis’ she-shed is
a chandelier made out of an old egg basket and glass
chandelier panels. Th e two types of items combined
make for the perfect combination of reusing the old and
incorporating the new to create a statement piece in the
When Phyllis isn’t working in her she-shed, she and
her husband enjoy canning vegetables. Th eir pantry is
fi lled with cans of tomatoes, green beans, beets, pep-
pers, and lima beans. A downstairs freezer holds frozen
bags of corn, broccoli, and cauliﬂ ower.
“Th e secret to good sweet corn is to get it in the freezer
as soon as you pick it,” said Ben. “Th at way, the sugar
doesn’t have time to turn to starch.”
If that didn’t keep them busy enough, the couple also
enjoys making their own delicious maple syrup and Ben
has been doing so for about 20 years.
“My late wife was making ham one time and she
Beth Scott | Beacon
Ben Harstine collects sap from the maple trees in his
wanted to put maple syrup on it to bake it,” said Ben. “I
went to the store to get some and it was $16 a quart, even
back then. I thought, I can make this.”
A shop in New Bedford custom-made a steal pan for
Ben to begin boiling his maple syrup which was then
lined with fi re brick. He began saving milk jugs to
collect the sap. Currently, Ben has 100 taps in the maple trees at the back of his farm. Trees must be at least 10
inches in diameter to tap and the tap runs until the trees
begin to bud. For sap to run eﬃ ciently, the weather must
be warm and sunny with days above freezing and cool
temperatures at night.
Once the trees are drilled and the sap is collected
in gallon-sized milk jugs, the liquid is poured into an
evaporator vat to be boiled down. When the 150 gallons
that are poured into the vat has been reduced to about
four gallons, the syrup is brought into the house on the
woodburner to control the process closer. Th is takes
days to do and is a 24-hour process. About every four
hours, Ben or Phyllis skims the impurities off and pours
more sap into the evaporator.
“When it gets down to syrup, we fi lter it and put it on
the stove and bring to 211 degrees,” said Ben. “We mea-
sure the sugar content with a special hydrometer, which
is measured in brix. When it gets to 60 brix, the sugar
content is right for syrup. Th en we fi lter it into pint jars.”
Ben said the sap, which is clear when it comes out
of the taps, begins to caramelize when it’s about half
reduced and the color comes from it being boiled down.
At the beginning of the season, the syrup is more of a
light amber color and by the end of the season, it gets a
lot darker and the taste is stronger.
Even though the Harstines have a lot of time and
fi nances dedicated to making maple syrup, they choose
to give it away to family and friends.
“Th ere are so many restrictions now for inspections
of commercial sales,” said Ben. “We do it just to give to
friends, neighbors, and relatives.”
CHEESE TRAYS • GIFT BOXES • FUND RAISERS
740-545-6002 • WWW .PEARLVALLEYCHEESE. COM
54760 T.R. 90, FRESNO, OH 43824
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Beth Scott | Beacon
Phyllis Harstine stands by her she-shed with her scare-
crow she aff ectionately calls Hector.
MARCH 13, 2019