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Posted 7/10/2017 9:27am by Harding Hill Farm.

It has been nearly a year since we gathered on the farm and in the woods to bid farewell to 'Pop' (Richard H Webb). We now anticipate another week of homecoming for the extended Webb Family as we say goodbye to an important founder of Harding Hill Farm.  

Just a short couple weeks ago, we lost our beloved Elizabeth T Webb, affectionately known as 'Gram' or to many others as 'Betsy'. She often provided a place to sit down, take a break, divulge in a sweet treat, and tell her about our adventures. She was our endless support system, always interested in our projects and seemingly crazy ideas. We gather later this week with family and friends to celebrate her life, legacy, and influence on the farm and woods we share with many. 


Harding Hill Farm - 1952

Elizabeth Thomas Webb passed away peacefully on June 23, 2017. Born Elizabeth Alden Thomas on October 4, 1920 in Islip, New York, she attended St. Agnes School in Albany and then Katherine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City. Summers were spent in Thetford, Vermont where she was a counselor at Camp Hanoun. She worked in New York City for several years until meeting and marrying Richard H. Webb in 1951. Together they established a home and small farm in Sunapee where she raised 6 children and helped run the farm.

 
Van Webb & Betsy Webb - 1969 &  in later years - Dick & Betsy at a family wedding

Her love of the ocean and spending time with family led to many summers spent camping on Cape Cod or traveling as a fairly large group to other places. They continued to travel for many years, sometimes visiting family and sometimes taking family with them. Upon the birth of their first grandchild they became Grammy and Pops to all who knew them well and they loved watching their grandchildren grow to young adulthood.

 

She was a member of several organizations in the area and was particularly active with the United Methodist Women, the preservation of the Old Town Hall/Harbor House Livery building, and the Sunapee Thrift Store.

She is survived by six children and their spouses: Tom and Jackie Webb, Portland, OR; Paul Webb and Lisa Hall, Palm Coast, FL; Brad and Andrea Webb, Hightstown, NJ; Van and Robin Webb, Sunapee, NH; Tom and Faith Reney, Sunapee, NH; Bayard Webb and Lyle Engler, Reno, NV and eleven grandchildren.


Harding Hill Farm - Webb Family 2014

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, July 15th at 11:00 am with a reception to follow, located at:

Lake Sunapee United Methodist Church
Lower Main Street, Sunapee, NH 03782

There will also be a graveside service at the South Cemetery on Harding Hill Road in Sunapee at 1:00 pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Sunapee Heritage Alliance, PO Box 72, Sunapee, NH 03782.

Posted 9/14/2016 6:15pm by The Webb Family.

A somewhat rainy, overcast evening… how many of those have we had this summer?! As I sit here and think about how behind I am on blogging/website and farm tasks, I also think of the need to be optimistic and not too hard on ourselves. Farming can be rewarding yet relentless in that no matter how hard we work… there is always something else to do. Sometimes it is hard to gain perspective, to let yourself off the hook, and to look at the bigger picture.


Dreaming of rain... taken earlier this summer

We have suffered some distinct losses this summer. The passing of the late Richard H Webb, the patriarch and custodian of this farm and woods, came sooner than we may have expected. It has left an effect on this place, but it also urges us to carry on and put our best foot forward, hoping to follow in the footsteps of this incredible caretaker of the land. You can read more in my earlier post – Reflection on Life, Love, and a Legacy.

 

Then there are those daily matters… not enough hours in the day, the cows are out, the electric fence doesn’t have enough grounding, not enough rain, the pasture isn’t growing, the pigs are eating too much, the cows are due to calve in later than we expected, our Acer dog has an emergency vet visit, and the list goes on. Life can be exhausting, but the hard work pays off at some point. Remember perspective?

 
Feeding stored grass in August... definitely not a normal summer!

So far this summer, Tyler and his hired hand have installed nearly 2000 feet of perimeter fencing for our animals. Not an easy task considering the ledge we have to deal with. Earlier this spring, we introduced the beginnings of our Belted Galloway cattle herd. Three of our cows gave birth to three healthy calves, and one is on its way soon! We are raising twice as many pigs as last year. The local demand for tree services has increased significantly, and Tyler was able to finance a new truck specifically for tree care and hauling chips. Despite the dry conditions, we are lucky enough to have stored grass to feed our cows. We have also gotten the occasional rain that keeps missing the majority of southern NH. Our animals are well fed, our people are well fed, and we contribute as much as possible to keep our Sunapee farm and forest looking beautiful. Not much to complain about when we look at things that way!

 

In closing, I encourage you all to gain some perspective. Go for a walk in the woods. I highly recommend a certain piece of woods in Sunapee… Webb Forest off Harding Hill Road.

Enjoy nature. There is a lot to be grateful for in this world.


An Evening Trail Run in Webb Forest

Posted 9/20/2015 4:43pm by The Webb Family.

Richard “Dick” Webb purchased our farm in Sunapee, NH in 1948, and he has always had conservation in mind. He was also instrumental in putting all owned forest land under conservation easement by the early 2000s. Over the past 50 years R.H. Webb Forest Preserve, now in its second and third generation, has continued to apply sustainable forestry practices on all of its properties.

 

While Van and Tyler now operate the Harding Hill Farm business, Dick continues to be involved when it comes to the farm. Dick has always had an interest in renewable energy, and he and Betsy had solar energy on their house for many years. However, the system was aging.

This year, Dick and Van pulled together the plans for a larger, more sustainable solar energy system for the farm. Dick and Betsy’s former home received a roof renovation with a new 20 panel, 5 kilowatt solar system. This system went online in early August, and it has produced just over 1.2 megawatts of power to date.

Dick also wanted to see the main barn preserved with a new standing seam metal roof and re-built cupola. That project was complete by mid-summer. A larger solar system was then installed on the barn roof. This installation is quite visible as you drive up Stagecoach Road from Route 103. The barn solar array is a 14.25 kilowatt system with a total of 57 panels. 

The barn solar array went on line September 2, and so far, it has peaked at 13.1 kilowatts produced per  day. Today alone, the system peaked at 3.2 kilowatt-hours produced in 15 minutes, which is enough to power a refrigerator for 17 hours! Since going online, the system has produced about 1.3 megawatts of power and has offset 1,971 pounds of carbon.

We are excited for the potential to produce sustainable energy right here on Harding Hill. It also ensures the preservation of the main barn for at least the next generation or two. We can certainly thank Dick Webb for his support and forward thinking as we complete this project. 

Posted 3/22/2015 7:01pm by The Webb Family.

This morning was cold... and we had to let some things thaw slightly before getting started in the sugar house. We don't always have the time and the means to take our customers out to see our 12 acres of sugarbush. So we took the opportunity. 

A family travelled from North Carolina specifically to see the process behind maple syrup. Their relatives from Saratoga, NY joined them on a very cold and windy Sunday morning to tour our sugarbush. 

 

We walked the loop while Tyler explained our setup with tubing and vacuum lines. We also looked at the different age groups of maples we have and the challenges to sustaining a sugarbush into the future. We discussed invasive plants, the deer population, and other issues that may impact the regeneration of sugar maples.  

After a walk in the woods, they helped us get started for an afternoon boil in the sugarhouse. We put them to work firing the evaporator, setting up the press to filter fresh syrup, and of course doing some tasting (or should I say quality control) of the product. 

Thank you to Wolfgang, Christine, and the Barker's for a fun visit!

Posted 3/20/2015 7:10am by The Webb Family.

Things have changed quite a bit over the years in the Maple Syrup making business. The introduction of permanent tubing, vacuum lines, and reverse osmosis has allowed production to be a lot more efficient.

Our sugar house is old, circa at least the 1920s. We love its historic charm. We have updated it over the years with a new roof, new flooring, new stainless equipment, and reverse osmosis, but the shell remains the same. It actually is being supported by cables!

Check out this comparison... a forty year difference.

 

Those of you that stopped by the sugar house on our first open weekend may have noticed another change... two labels on our syrup containers. Maple Syrup Producers in the US and Canada pushed for a more uniform grading system, and they also wanted more of a flavor description that is easy for customers to understand. 

The state of NH approved the new grading system and the NH Department of Agriculture, Markets, and Foods was busy developing the specific rules in 2014. We now have until January 1, 2016 to implement the new system on our labels. We decided to start this year by labeling with both the old and new systems. We will stick to that until we run out of the old labels. 

Fortunately, the NH Dept of Ag also developed a great poster to describe the new system versus the old system. We hope to have a copy of it in the sugar house by maple weekend.

Posted 3/2/2015 5:31pm by The Webb Family.

It has been a long and cold winter to say the least. The days are getting longer and the sunshine feels a little warmer. Sugaring season is just around the corner. We are tapped out in our sugarbush, just waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate!

Every year, usually in late February, we start looking for the change in the weather.  We are looking for warm, sunny days with cold, below freezing nights.  These warm days, about 40 degrees, unthaw the trees enough to allow sap to flow up into the crowns of the trees.  This sap flow is the start of the growing season for a tree, and the sap contains the minerals and nutrients needed to give the tree energy to make leaves.

We try to be ready for these days well in advance so we don’t miss any of these “runs.” A run is when the days are warm, and the sap is flowing in the trees.  A run is any gatherable amount of sap, usually a minimum of 250 gallons, that we can then boil down to make syrup. 

Our preparations for the season can take some time, depending on how Mother Nature has treated us over the winter. We check to make sure that our tubing is stretched tight from tree to tree.  We take the time to get all of the fallen limbs off the tubing and repair any damage that may have been done by squirrels during the year. Those critters love to get some remaining sweetness out of the tubing.

The next step is to start tapping. This step usually takes about three to five days. This depends on how deep the snow is and how much time we can put towards it. If conditions are just right, we can drill about 40-50 taps an hour. We use an 18V drill to tap at a depth of only about 1.5 to 2 inches into the tree. Then we insert the spout and “tap” it with a hammer until it is seated snugly into the tree. If you pound the spout too far into the tree, there is a chance to split the hole. That split would cause the sap to leak out around the spout, losing this precious liquid. We like to avoid that at all costs!

We always debate on when the best time is to start tapping. The timing truly is a guessing game and changes every year. This year, Tyler started tapping our trees on February 22nd and finished up on March 2nd. All 1,300 taps on around 12 acres are ready for mother nature to get the sap flowing.

  

Our first run is always exciting. The warm days will feel great after a cold winter, especially this year. We also get to spend a lot of time in the woods chasing leaks in the tubing. It’s fun running around on snowshoes to watch sap flow through the tubing. It's also a great exercise plan for us and our one year old labrador retriever.

Then, a few hours later, we will be making steam and waiting for our first sweet taste of maple syrup for the season. Stay tuned for updates as the weather turns...

A big Thanks to Paul Howe Photography for some great photos. We even made the front page of the Eagle Times!

Posted 12/5/2014 11:55am by Kelly Webb.

Holiday Open Sugar House - Sat. December 6th 

Come join us at our Sugar House at 131 Route 103 in Sunapee. We will be having an open house to celebrate the holiday season. The whole family will be there to show off our sugaring operation and offer hot samples of maple syrup. We will also have sample grass fed burger sliders, beef stew, and beef sausage to offer. A variety of products will be available for sale, including maple syrup in plastic or glass bottles, maple candy, and our own grass fed beef. We hope to see you there!