BLANCHARD, Maine — Sunday brunch: buffalo burgers washed down with sweet maple tea followed by homemade maple syrup cookies and ice cream covered in fresh maple syrup.
It didn’t get any better for visitors to Breakneck Ridge Farm on Saturday and Sunday — unless they considered the magnificent mountain view from the farm’s sugar shack and a close encounter with buffalo.
Diana and Stephen Hobart, who own and operate Breakneck Ridge, take advantage of Maple Sunday each year to promote not only their maple syrup products but also fresh buffalo meat.
Stephen Hobart on Sunday patiently told and retold the process of sap gathering and syrup making as new visitors entered the couple’s sugar shack snuggled at the base of Russell Mountain. Nearby, their herd of 50 buffalo grazed in pastures surrounding their farm.
“I wanted to see the buffalo, which was awesome, but I also came for the syrup, of course,” Cheryl Firth of Sangerville said Sunday. It was her first visit to Breakneck Ridge Farm, and she was pleased with the adventure.
Dale and Pat Tibbetts of Cornville joined their daughter and son-in-law Trish and Jim Dunham for the farm visit. While Pat Tibbetts said she couldn’t wait to try a buffalo burger, her husband jokingly said he was more interested in shooting one. The foursome sampled the offerings, including Diana Hobart’s homemade maple Italian dressing that Trish Dunham declared delicious.
The Hobarts tap about 1,200 trees and produce about 300 gallons of the golden syrup a year. Although the sap started early this year, Hobart said he had a few problems with leaks. When the snow and ice that had accumulated on the treetops fell around the first of March, it sheared off some of the spouts on the trees. Hobart said he still managed to start boiling sap on March 4. He recalled only two previous years when the sap started flowing as early as this year.
In addition to the sap production, the Hobarts raise buffalo, which can be seen on the grounds surrounding the farm. Last year, 15 buffalo were processed, and this year another 17 will be processed, with the meat sold locally.
The buffalo were what drew Noah Kershner of Newport. He said he had attended Conservation Camp at the Hobart farm and was intrigued by the animals.
Meanwhile, for his parents, Buddy and Karey Kershner, the trip was specifically to replenish their supply of maple syrup.