Crooked Pine Farm Pure Cane Syrup 

Uriah, Alabama Nov. 26, 2004

The text and images below were sent as an email to former classmates by Randy Butler 
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  If Norman Rockwell were still alive, he would have been at Elwin and Nell Cropp's country place in Uriah, Alabama this past Friday. Other than Norman, the only other thing missing was a mule to drive the sugar cane mill. You see, Elwin's wife, Nell, grew up with a grandfather who made cane syrup, so for the past 6-7 years Elwin and Nell have been growing sugar cane and building, fabricating, and refurbishing all the "stuff" necessary to turn the wheels of time back 100+ years. 

As the enclosed photos will show (and they'll take a while to load up on most computers), the process begins with the sugar cane (shown growing in the background of one of the photos) being cut and stripped of all it's leaves. The bare stalks of cane are then fed into the mill Elwin rebuilt, which is powered by Elwin's "mule" - an old Farmall tractor's power take off. As the sugar cane juice is pressed out of the stalks, it flows down a pipe, through a filter and into plastic holding tanks, then by gravity downhill through another pipe, through another filter and into a copper evaporator Elwin built. The juice is then "cooked" in the evaporator by a gas fed fire under it. The evaporator is about three feet wide by 8+ feet long, and contains segmented compartments that the juice flows up at a 1 degree incline. During it's "journey" family and friends are skimming off more impurities to where it is finally cooled and drained off at the top as pure cane syrup into a stainless steel vat, and then taken out through a spigot into jars or jugs. 

There was also a small pitcher that would periodically be placed under the spigot for tapping off some fresh syrup for putting on fresh hot biscuits, for savoring as fine a Southern tradition as has survived all these years. The Cropps label their product "Crooked Pine Farm Pure Cane Syrup" and it's as good as it comes. If you want to learn more about the tradition and process go to "" 

At a time in America where our lives are driven and consumed by television, the Internet, and materialism run amok, sit back, grab your mouse, and click on Norman Rockwell's unfinished portrait of Americana at it's best.