Thursday, March 1, 2012

I Know It's Still Winter, But We're in the Home Stretch!

This is what Rowdy does when he gets tired of watching me cook down sap.

Last week I wrote about fixing fences to keep Buck in where he belongs.  I wanted to show you how he moves from field to field inside the perimeter fences.  All my Pyrs have been able to do this with very little effort and have figured it out on their own.  Even Dash, my first Pyr who was 140 pounds.  Buck is a mere 110.  Star is clueless.  I think it is a Pyrenees thing.  This is my first ever attempt at posting a video, and I wasn't even sure how to edit it, so bear with me.  

Yes, March has arrived!  We had 2 weeks of nice (dry) weather, and then yesterday we had a real gully-washer, toad-strangler rain with thunder and lightning and all.  Must have been in honor of Leap Day.  

I cooked down sap on Sunday, 6 buckets-full resulting in about 3 pints of finished syrup and then we had a decent run of sap into Monday, so I cooked again Tuesday, 8 buckets.  I got about 2.5 finished quarts.  Now it has been so warm that I don't know what we will get from here on out.  Time will tell.

 Tuesday  was a beautiful day to be outside all day, though it started off rather cold, which is good for the sap runI got started fairly early.  Here is what I had to start off.  The white buckets and the milk can are full of sap waiting for enough water to boil off to be added to the pans.

Here I have all 3 pans full of clear sap.  As evaporation progresses, I will ladle sap from the 2 outside pans into the center pan, which is where the more concentrated syrup will be. It will get darker and darker as it gets more concentrated.  I will eventually end up with about 2 inches of almost finished syrup in that center pan and will have water in the other 2 pans to keep them from burning.  At that point, I take the syrup to the house to finish on the stove where it can be more closely monitored.  I started at 9:30 Tuesday and had the almost finished syrup in the house by 4:30.

This is most of the finished production from Sunday and Tuesday.  Yum!

While I was feeding pine wood into the fire under my sap pans, I put together my "bee order".  All the things I need to buy to start a second hive this year.  I am going with the standard Langstroth hive, which is what I have been learning the most about.  Sam will build me the boxes, but I will have to put together frames which will go into the boxes and the bees will draw out the wax on these frames for the queen to lay eggs in and the worker bees to make honey in.  More on all that once I get my order.

I also worked on Shelley's mittens some more.  One is pretty much complete and I have started the other.   I love it when I can sit in the sun and knit and listen to an audio book.  I am listening to "A Game of Thrones" right now, which I understand is an HBO series.  I need to see if I can find it on DVD at the library.  Maybe not yet.

I took my rugs off the loom and have decided to rip one out.  I miscalculated my warp length and the rug came out way too short and the pattern was not balanced.  It just won't do.  The other one came out fine and I have it almost finished, just need to twist the fringes on one end and then I will take a photo.  I really like how it came out.

Still crankin' away on my lace weight alpaca/bamboo batts on my Reeves wheel.  I have one 4 oz bobbin complete as you may recall and I have almost 2 oz of the remaining 4 done.  I am diligently working on it, but it is very time consuming spinning this fine.  I can hardly wait to see how it looks once it is plied, but I think it will be a couple more weeks for that gratification.  I WILL get there! 

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