Sunday, March 21, 2010

Maple Sugaring Update

We boiled down the last of our maple sap today and pulled out the last tap. I combined all the syrup together and planned to can it for later. I didn't have a jar small enough! The grand total came to just 1 cup of syrup! It was still very worth the effort of trying it this year!

We tapped a total of four trees and checked for sap every day for three weeks. Sometimes we only brought in 1/2 a gallon of sap. Twice we got just over one gallon of sap! I will definitely do this again next year!

Improvement ideas for next year:
- Trees will be positively identified in the fall and marked.
- I will purchase more taps right now for next year.
- I will look into boiling the sap down outside on a stove(to avoid too much sticky moisture in the house).

I'm already excited about next maple sugaring season. Now I just need to plan that "perfect" meal to feature that hard earned mapley perfection!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Whistling Dixie

Every farm (and kid) should have a dog, right? I have definitely been the hold-out in our family. We would have had a dog a long time ago if it had not been for the fact that I didn't WANT a dog!

Well, times are changing and our farm now has a dog! She's a three year old Wheaten Terrier from the Humane Society. Her breed is known for herding, protecting chickens and eggs, and hunting. She is gentle and seemingly very smart.

She came to us with her name and it suits her very well. Dixie is very sweet and we are very happy to have her sharing our home!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sap Today, Syrup Tomorrow! - (maybe)

After a week of not-so-cooperative weather, the sap buckets were only half full. However, still very excited about the maple adventure, I boiled it down! We only tapped two trees with one bucket on each tree, so there was only about a gallon of sap. I decided to use my indoor woodstove and put the pot with sap on top and left it overnight. (I actually started it on my electric stove, but quickly moved it over to the free heat!)

The next morning, more than half had been boiled away! According to the book, we should boil down most of the sap until it becomes syrup-y and the correct temperature, of course! Our family needed to be gone from home for the day, so the pot just sat for the day off the stove. One more night over low heat and WE HAVE SYRUP!!

Pancakes were certainly on the menu for breakfast, and the maple syrup tasted fantastic! Even better than I imagined. There was just one problem. There are six people in our family and enough syrup for just TWO!

It takes about 40 gallons of sap to get about one gallon of syrup - so with just ONE gallon of sap, we got about TWO ounces of syrup! I guess we wait for more sap!!! Please HURRY!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The "yolk's" on us!

I'm learning a lot about chickens and the eggs they lay. As I have posted about before, we get a variety of colors; greenish/blue, white, and different browns. We also get a few with more than one yolk in them!

They come out quite large and occasionally we get to hear the hen who lays it! She really makes a squawk in that nesting box - I can feel her pain (I myself had enormous children!)

Sometimes when the kids come back from gathering eggs, they will tell of eggs without shells! They are always broken open, usually by the hens themselves. The kids just scoop it out of the nesting box and throw it into the compost. But recently, they found a whole egg without its shell.

Today, the neighbor's dog got into the chicken run and killed a few of our hens. It was a sad event. Being thrifty and trying to make the most of the farming/homesteading lifestyle, we salvaged the meat. During the "salvage" we discovered another type of unusual egg - one not yet laid!

I guess the joke's on us this time!