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KATY’S TURN

It's Katy's turn to pull the long pole around the circle until all the cane has been ground down to juice to be processed into syrup. That's what P.J. Wilson is selling today just off I-10 in Chipley, Florida. "But don't worry, Katy is just for advertising and not overworked." Besides, P.J. said, "she is so skinny it takes her two times around just to make a shadow."


He has a little over an acre, which makes about 50 gallons of syrup. Katy is harnessed to a 27 foot long pole that turns the mill as it grinds the handled stalks of cane into buckets of pure cane juice. About seven 5 gallon buckets of juice are poured into a metal trough, which is heated to about 200 degrees by propane tanks. Eight gallons of raw juice boils down to one gallon of syrup. "It's an art to know when to stop cooking," P.J. said as he poured the syrup like sheets with no drip through a straining cloth stretched over a bucket. 


A nozzle at the end of the bucket adjusts the flow of the hot liquid after it's cooled, into jars. This reminded me of when I was a kid on our farm. One year we set up a mill and when no one was looking I sneaked more than a sip of the juice as it flowed from the nozzle. Funny how you remember the sickest moments.