This past weekend was Molasses Making 2005. It was the earliest any of us can ever remember doing it and I can attest that if we do it this early again next year it may come to blows. There is a big temperature difference between last August and late September in eastern North Carolina. I sound like Dad now, but whatever could go wrong, did this year. The carburetor leaked badly and we got it down to a slow leak. While I wasn't there to witness it, apparently the leak still led to the Model A's engine catching on fire. Ed threw a bucket of water at the engine to put out the flames only to find out that the bucket also had four cans of Dr. Pepper in it. At least no one was hit with a flying soda can.
The harness above the cooker has settled to where the boiler couldn't be lifted off the fire without replacing hardware. We found this out around 5:30pm on Sunday. As Dad fished around for stuff he said, "well there are lots of options but everything takes a half a day." He and Kenny managed to rig something up that worked okay and cooking was underway around 6:45pm.
We had to leave around 7 in order to get home at a reasonable hour. I hated to leave Daddy there with so little help. He looked very tired. But we all had to get home for work on Monday. I have dreams of how we'll be better organized next year. And no cane shall be cut until after September 15th if we can help it.
I didn't stay long enough to get pics of the pouring off of the molasses. But here are a few pics. They all start to look the same year and year except the people get older looking.
Molasses Making 2005 I'm still working on my damn photo gallery software, so sort by FileName Ascending if you want them in chronological order.
- Never ever try to make molasses in August. It's too damn hot and it conflicts with Curtis' okra crop.
- One row of cane makes over a barrel of juice (ideally). This year we got about 65 gallons or so.
- 50 gallons of juice should yield 7 gallons of molasses
- We filled 7 "donut buckets" this year (each being a little over a gallon to leave room for foam).
- We put the juice on at 6:45pm and Daddy and Curtis took it up around 10pm. Unfortunately, it was underdone.
- Curtis used a fork thermometer this year and it read 226 degrees F just before they took it up.
- The carburetor is leaking and should be looked at before next year.
- Sandy soil from the back field works well for packing the edges of the boiler. Ideally, we should go out and build up the edges with concrete.
In my wildest dreams I would see going down to the farm a few weeks ahead of time to prep the area. But we'll see how things are going for us this time next year.