Thursday, February 17, 2011

It Feels Like Spring....But it's STILL February!!

Buck, a 2 1/2 month old Great Pyrenees & Star, a 7 month old Italian Maremma have joined the Straightfork family!

Yes, we have LGDs again here at Straightfork.  That is short for Livestock Guard DogsThey are technically still in training mode, but since they were born and raised on alpaca farms, they already have a good start.  We look forward to many happy years with them.  Please.  The alpacas don't seem bothered at all by Star, because she looks like what they are used to, a big white dog.  They don't seem to sure about the little fuzz-ball on legs, though.  He IS kinda funny looking in a really cute way!

My goodness the weather has made a spectacular change here this week!  It is beautiful and sunny out there and I believe the highs are supposed to be in the 60's the next 2 days.  What a wonderful spring-teaser!

The warm weather has made the sap start to run in the maples.  Sam and I put 22 taps in trees this past week and as of yesterday our buckets were all full.  About 44 gallons collected so far.  As I sit at the office and write this, Sam is working on the first boil-off of the year.  44 gallons SHOULD yeild about 1 gallon of syrup.  You may recall that we ended up with 2 gallons total last year, so this is a change for us.

Some of our taps

 Since we plan more production this year, Sam has built an evaporator on which he will be doing our first run today.  I hope to get some photos of it in operation , but here it is as it stood waiting for sap pans.

 This is up at the pavilion at the pond which is close to our "sugarbush".  A Sugarbush is an area with a great concentration of maple trees.  It is nice if they are close together as it makes collecting the sap easier.  We have many, many nice maples and marked a lot of them last fall.  We will not be tapping all those we marked.  This is only our second year doing this, and we are not up to commercial production!  Last year, the weather did not warm up enough for the sap to run until March.  If the weather cooperates, we could be collecting sap for 3 weeks.  It would be nice to get 5 or 6 gallons of finished syrup this year.  Everyone wanted some last year!!  I'll keep ya posted here.

I mentioned our Compressed Natural Gas car and all the work Sam had to do to run a new gas line and electric service to the garage for the compressor.  Here is the compressor unit.  It's about the size of a washing machine.  

It actually takes several hours for the car to fill up once it is hooked up to the compressor.  We are getting about 150 miles to a fill up, which is great for our daily usage.  So far, so good!

I haven't done much knitting this past week due to my cataract surgery.  It was difficult to try to knit because the eye was bothering me, but seems almost all better now.   I did finish up a skein of yarn I was spinning from some of my hand-dyed roving.  It is a colorway that always sells out whenever I go to a show, so I purposely held a few ounces back for myself, but I only have this one skein now, about 165 yards

I can use it in some mittens or a hat or maybe a cowl.  I love the colors.  

I have also been working on the sock yarn for Michelle and should have that finished up by the end of the weekend, although I have a busy few days ahead.  

I have the warp all measured out for my next rug and plan to start putting it on the loom today.  I will have today and tomorrow to get that ready to go and can do the actual weaving next week.  By the way, I put a link to my Alpacanation Farm Store on my list of links on this blog and I have my rugs listed there in case anyone is just dying to have a hand-woven alpaca rug!

I visited my mom and my brother and his family this past weekend in Dayton and this Saturday I hope to run over to Pittsburgh and spend the afternoon and evening with my aunt and 2 cousins and my cousin-in-law.  Pittsburgh is about a 2 hour drive, so unless something comes up, I should be able to make it.  Sam and his dad will be away at an auction that they go to every year up in Kidron Ohio.   It is a huge auction of all kinds of construction stuff and woodworking stuff and just general "guy stuff".  I never know what Sam will bring home.  Some years it is a truckload, and some years not very much.  But it's always fun to see what he brings home!

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