Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Syrup Season?

We took a walk at dusk on Sunday.  I was hoping to get some sunset photos, but I did not go up high enough to catch it.  I did get some nice shots though.

Way up on one hill on our farm there is an old pump station. I understand it once ran at least 4 oil wells.  It is all this old iron machinery with wheels and cables and belts sitting in the weedsIts kind of neat.  Here is one of the huge wheels.

Grover is near what I call "the big tree".  It is the biggest tree on our place.  I imagine it would take 4 to 5 people fingertip to fingertip to encircle it.  One of these days I will test that theory.  Meanwhile, I will just admire its majesty.

We should be in the thick of maple syrup season.  We have trees tapped and have run 2 batches, but the sugar content is low, resulting in a low yield of finished syrup.  Now it has gotten too cold for the sap to run.  Ideally we need sunny days above freezing with sub-freezing temps at night.  This whole week is forecast to be well below freezing during the day with single digits to low teens at night.  

We invested in a nice new syrup pan this year and so far we have not used it enough to figure out the best system with it.  It should cook down more sap in less time.  I am afraid we will go from these cold days this week right into spring.  While I will certainly welcome that for the warmer weather, I think it will make for a grim year for syrup production.  But that's farm life.

We chose not to pay an extra $600 for our new Honda Pioneer to have the hood in camouflage.  We have camouflaged it already in true farm camo:  mud!

And speaking of ups and downs of farm life, I did get into my bee hive on Saturday when it was warm and my fears were justified.  The bees obviously froze to death.  They still had plenty of honey close by.  The cold was just too much for them.
 The bees were all clustered together on a couple of adjacent frames.  In this photo I have circled the queen.  She has a blue spot on her back.  This spot was put on her so that she could be more easily found in the hive.  Over to the left of the cluster is capped honey.  Within inches of them, but they were too cold to move to it.

Here's more of the cluster.  They were either on the other side of the same frame as the queen or on the frame right next to the queen.  Again, honey was so close.  

I attended a local beekeeper's meeting on Monday and it seems about 75% of the group members' hives had not survived.  I had ordered a new package of bees last month when I feared my bees had died, so in April, I will start over.  

 I've done some spinning lately, and also some knitting.  I am on a sweater kick these days and have several I plan to knit in the near future.  This one is a top down cardigan done in a commercial wool/alpaca/tweed blend.  

I am also almost done with the 2 rugs I have on my loom.  I hope to finish and get them off the loom today.  I have about  20" left to do on the 6' runner.  Very happy with them so far, but we'll see when they come off.

Here's how my world looked early Sunday morning from my back door.



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