Bro. Mark Webb
|My name is Marci Webb, my father was Mark Webb, who passed away on December 16, 2012 after battling bladder cancer for over a year. I’ve said for a LONG time that my dad had been born a century too late. He was always so interested in “old Florida”, everything from cracker houses and making syrup to raising our own meat and smoking our own sausage. He was old Florida to me. I grew up differently than most, it was very important to my dad to try to teach the old ways to us kids as well as anyone else that showed interest.
For many years Daddy made syrup in late November or early December, although the process started at the beginning of the year. He made sure that he had some sugar cane planted, mostly for the grandkids to see, he would buy from other growers in the area to make sure that he had enough for the big day. He took such care and love to make sure that everything was ready for the cane grinding. He built the syrup kettle and the building around it with his own two hands.
The last time we made the syrup was on December 8, 2012, just eight days before his passing. When Daddy started getting really sick the thing that he told us all was, “I just want to make syrup one last time.” He made it, but not only did he make it but he was able to stick it out with us the whole day. We made this big even for my dad not only a celebration of his life but the love that he had for the old ways. All of us kids, the grandkids and so many family and friends were out there. Daddy sat back and “supervised” while a good friend of the family took over Daddy’s spot. There were many prayers said, tears shed and love filled hearts in Florahome that day. This day was not just the making of the syrup, but the hard working life and ministry of Mark Webb. He made it to see something that he loved and was passionate about done one last time.
It was fitting that my mom, sister, one of my brothers and I surrounded his bed on a Sunday morning at 11:16am as he left this earthly world to walk the streets of gold in heaven. For most of my dad’s life he was in a church pew or leading a church service of some kind. When he was called home not only did I lose my dad, this world lost a man with a heart for the old.
Brother Mark, seated, is supervising the syrup making, December 8, 2012
|In the first part of May and July, I give all my cane a generous amount of cottonseed meal, during the first part of September I put the potash to it like I was trying to burn it up and then plenty of water.|
|After I strip, chop and top the cane, I wash each stalk with a cloth and water and place it on a rack to get ready to grind it. Right, grinding the cane with a Chattanooga #14 mill.|
|We have gone from cooking with a wood fire to cooking with gas as most have. From this point it is skim, skim, skim. On my kettle I have a 5" band around the outside lip that is drawn tight with 1/4" bolts and then a 1" high removable ring for the inside. Above left, Ricky Griffis and Joe Feagle are filling the kettle. Center, the band around the outside, and left, the trough for the skimmings|
|Above left, Ricky Griffis and myself skimming. Center, Ricky's wife Steffanie, and right Ricky and his two daughters, all trying their hand at skimming|
|When the cooking gets to the point that it is almost ready to raise up, I put burlap all around between the two bands and then when it cooks up I let it filter through the burlap. After it has filtered through for a while, I turn the fire down just enough to let the syrup go back down into the kettle alittle, I then take the burlap bags out and wash them out real good, wring them out real good and put them back around inside the rings and bring the syrup back up for another filtering. I might do this 4 or 5 times, gettin the syrup extra clean. Above right, myself and Ricky wiping and skimming.|
|As you can see from the pictures I use a corning ware coffee pot to check my density in. When it gets to 33 1/2 I kill the fire and dip it out with a stainless steel pot on a handle.|
|I place it in a stainless steel keg and let it sit, I generally do my cookings on a Saturday so folks have an opportunity to come and I let it sit 'till Monday morning before I bottle it. It usually comes out clear as honey. (Bro. Mark Webb)|
October 29, 2013