Thursday, February 24, 2011

February is Galloping to a Close!

New guard dogs hard at work!!  

Yes, February is almost over!  I can't believe how fast it has gone.  My To Do list for February still has several chores on it that I just don't think will get done by month's end, unless I have a very productive weekend this weekend.

On that list was making maple syrup, which we are doing.  Sam boiled off the first batch a week ago.  He tried doing 11 buckets of sap, which is about 40 gallons (we get our buckets from the local grocery store bakery....they originally held donut filling or icing and they sell them after they empty them for a $1 apiece.  I think we bought about 20 or 25 this year) as each bucket holds 3.5 gallons.  That ended up being a   L O N G day and into the night

evaporator front view
evaporator top view

   I was at the office that day and brought home pizza and took it up to the pavilion and we had pizza, beer (Sam) and red wine (me).

Pizza delivery
 There was a gorgeous full moon and when I went up onto the ridge to collect more sap at dusk, I wished I had my camera because off to the west, the sun was sinking and there was a beautiful pink sky, while over my shoulder, the full moon was rising.  I did take some full moon pics, but I did not have a tri-pod so they came out kind of unfocused.  

Pavilion/Sugar-Shack with Full Moon rising

Pavilion/Sugar-Shack with frozen pond

So, since I was filtering and bottling syrup at midnight that night, we decided to do smaller runs and have since done 2 batches of about 5 buckets or 15 gallons of sap.  That is a much shorter day.  Our weather got so warm over the weekend that the sap really didn't run at all on Sunday, but Tuesday we had full jugs and buckets.  I hope we will be able to do another batch this weekend.

Another chore on my Feb To Do list was to paint our downstairs bathroom, for which I purchased paint back in November and my goal at the time was to have it painted by Christmas!  Ha! Best laid plans and all.  Life (and the MOPACA spin-off) intervened and I just got around to this Tuesday.  Sam tore out the floor and had to replace floor joists and  sub-flooring 2 1/2  years ago and at that time we put in a new vanity and ceramic tile, but we were in a rush and only moved the bathtub out of the living room (where it sat for 3 weeks) a couple days before our Labor Day weekend party, so I just painted with paint we had around the house and have been wanting to re-paint it ever since.  Finally.

Next week hopefully I will have an "after" photo.  I have the walls painted, but I still need to re-paint the outside of the claw-foot tub to match the color of the upper walls (which are not yet painted in the photo).    The window in the bathroom actually looks out into our mud room which we added on in 2006.  

So, I still have finishing up the insulation in the studio and paneling the studio on my Feb list, as well as skirting the rest of the fleeces I have kept back to send in for more rug yarn.  They are all coarser fleeces that I don't use for yarn or roving.  Stay tuned next week to see what I manage to get done!

The new dogs are settling in.  The female, Star, is a Maremma, which is a breed I have not been around before.  Her energy level seems MUCH higher than the Pyrenees.  Pyrs are so laid back, even as puppies, and I am having a hard time adjusting to a 60+ pound dog who wants to jump on me and lick my face every time I go to the barn.  She is a sweet dog and is doing her guarding work and I am sure in time she will calm down a bit.  Buck, the Pyr puppy, just takes it all in strideNothing seems to faze him.  He is just a cool guy. 

Both dogs spent the first few days with us in an 8 X 10 pen in the alpaca barn and I let them out a few times a day to get some outside time and to let the alpacas get used to them.  Then they spent the next several days in the pasture adjoining the alpacas and had the use of the overhang for shelter from the weather.  A  couple days ago, I let them into the main alpaca area, and now that is where they stay.  They have their own place in the barn that they can get into and the alpacas can't.  That way, their food is safe (yes, alpacas WILL eat dog food, they seem to love it) and they can have a place to sleep where they won't get stepped on, if they choose.

They have even figured out how to drink from the automatic waterer. Buck has to put his paws up on the edge of it, but not for long, I am sure.

And while the alpacas will eat the dog food, it is definitely a 2-way street and Buck and Star are already bellying up to the trough at feeding time, just like Cheetah!


So as February draws to a close, I do look forward to what March will bring, though I know the weather in March can often be unpredictable.  March DOES bring spring on the calendar and I am looking forward to being able to spend more time outside.  But, we will have lots of MUD as everything thaws out and there is also a lot of poop out there that needs to be cleaned up once it is a little drier.

See you in March!

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