Beacon Tabs 2019 Down on the Farm - Page 2

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 space. 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 back yard. 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.” Award Winning Ohio Cheese! PLANT TOURS EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 9:30AM OVER 20 VARIETIES OF CHEESE TO SAMPLE CHEESE TRAYS • GIFT BOXES • FUND RAISERS 740-545-6002 • WWW .PEARLVALLEYCHEESE. COM 54760 T.R. 90, FRESNO, OH 43824 HOURS : MONDAY - SATURDAY, 8:00AM - 5:00PM 2-B THE BEACON Beth Scott | Beacon Phyllis Harstine stands by her she-shed with her scare- crow she aff ectionately calls Hector. MARCH 13, 2019