Sweet Sticky Fingers!

WOW! The cold snap broke this morning and I’m in the middle of a full-on sap run. I collected 5 gallons already and the buckets are half full again. I guess I just needed a little patience- that post yesterday to the weather God’s probably helped as well. I guess I’m not going to have to buy my maple syrup this year after all. I’m spending the weekend at my parents, so I won’t be able to start boiling until Monday. For now, the pond is helping keep my jugs of sap cool. I took a big sip of sap and it was SWEET and refreshing. If you have Maple trees in your yard, I highly suggest you give this a try… and stop buying that FAKE CRAP. Info and supplies can be found at: http://www.tapmytrees.com

 

(above photo from: http://www.tapmytrees.com)

Seriously, someone turn on the heat!

First, I AM NOT HAPPY WITH THE WEATHER GODS! It was going so well… then the cold hit… AGAIN! I was super excited to get out and tap the maple trees, which I did two weeks ago. The sap started to flow and things were looking good, then BAM! In comes the cold and freezes everything up. In order to get the trees to “pump” sap you need freezing night time temps and warm day time temps, and this needs to happen before the trees bud or you get “off-flavors” in your syrup. I only have about 2 gallons of sap so far, not nearly enough to make it worth my while to boil down to syrup. The ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1. I was discussing this with my Mother the other day and she said, “if it’s only 40:1 you would think that maple syrup would cost more. I mean a bottle of syrup is pretty cheap.” I had to laugh at that one. Like most people, my Mom doesn’t know that the “maple syrup” you buy in stores is just water, corn syrup and maple flavoring (and various preserving agents). It’s NOT EVEN CLOSE TO THE REAL THING. Corn, corn, corn… it’s in everything, literally! If you haven’t read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, you really fucking should! Excuse my french.

Gene and I spent the day yesterday surveying the land around the property and settled on a spot to erect the tipi. We chose a patch of flat grassland next to the barn, rather than an area in the woods. I debated the amount of work it would take to clear trees, level the land and run power and water to an area in the woods. In the end I settled for convenience and less work. I can run temporary power from the barn to the tipi as well as water without having 100’s of feet of cords and hose. Also, I’m close to the animals so that I can respond if there is ever a ruckus in the middle of the night… electric fence or not, hungry animals are determined. One other advantage of the location is that the tipi is visible from the road. I can take advantage of peoples curiosity and hopefully entice them onto the property to buy eggs!

Tonight the nest box goes into the rabbit cage… if all goes well I should have baby bunnies on Sunday. I didn’t plan on “Easter Bunnies” when I bred the doe, but by golly that’s just the way it timed out! I’m building a new hutch for the rabbits that will be located outside next to the barn as soon as the giant pile of snow goes away. Actually it’s not a hutch, but rather a 2×4 frame that I can suspend the wire cages from. Right now the rabbits are still in the garage with litter pans underneath. I hate litter pans… what a mess. The new spring, summer, fall (they have to go back in the garage for winter-too cold) housing will allow for the droppings to just collect on the ground where I can scoop them up and put them in the garden. I’m going to allow the chickens access to the droppings too- apparently from what I’ve read, the chickens love to dig through the pile and pick out worms and other creepy crawlies.

The chickens are enjoying the move back to the barn, despite the cold. It’s been a long winter and they haven’t seen grass for a long time. Velvita the duck, really enjoys all the mud puddles and quacks and grunts excitedly when ever she finds a new one. I wonder how out of place she feels being surrounded by all the chickens? I can also say that Velvita is out producing the chickens when it comes to eggs. She started laying again back in February and has faithfully laid an egg everyday since. I have 15 new chicks coming on Tuesday and I’m excited for some of the new breeds I will be raising. Including 3 Araucanas that lay blue-green colored eggs.

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I’ve got the garden plot pretty much laid out. It’s going to be a long day of tilling soil once the ground finishes thawing out. I tried to picture our forefathers doing this work with a horse and plow and came to the conclusion that we are serious pussies when it comes to hard work. I will be using a gas powered tiller… and that’s still a lot of work! The cabbage seedlings are doing well and will soon be joined by tomatoes and peppers. It’s all coming together!

My ankle, for the most part, is all healed! No pun intended…

All this “new stuff” to learn! It’s exciting and overwhelming at times. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I’m actually doing this. I definitely don’t regret the decision. I miss my city friends and hope that a few of them make the trip North this summer for a visit… it gets lonely here some times. At this point, the positives definitely out weigh the negatives… hopefully this trend continues. If my biggest gripe come summer is HEAT and BUGS… I’m doing things right!

Stay warm 🙂

Chance Encounter

I’ve been busy learning all the ins-n-outs of my new camera and spending quite a few hours (days) watching Youtube videos on how to use Adobe Lightroom.  I was driving home the other day from my parents and just happened to witness this on the side of the road!

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(click on the image for a larger view)

How freaking cool is that! I was able to pull my car up and snap a few photos… he was no more than 10 feet away and didn’t seem to even notice me, until Myles jumped up and started barking. I was shaking so bad from the excitement and couldn’t believe that I had my camera right there with me. You don’t see images like this in the cities!

My ankle is healing quite nicely and I’ve stopped using the brace. I’m still being quite careful as I don’t want to re-injure it. Things are quite in the cabin… still patiently waiting for this snow to clear. I’m fine with the weather right now, it’s giving me ample opportunity to enjoy my new found (actually I had two years of photography in High School, so it’s not really new) hobby.

Anyway… one more for the road. Just a quick pic of one of my Moms house plants… if it only looked this rich in real life… man I love Adobe Lightroom!

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Stay warm!

-Aaron