Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's Spring: Officially, But it Doesn't Feel Like It!

 Rowdy and Grover were camera-shy this week, so instead you are seeing my work from last weekend, which included the last boil down of sap into pure maple syrup and canning homemade chicken stock.

We did a boil down on Saturday and got 2 gallons of syrup.  Sunday was cold and Monday was bright and sunny and fairly warm, but the sap buckets were no more than a quarter full on any of the taps, so I decided to go ahead and pull the taps Monday afternoon.  The weather has been so unpredictable, warm one day, cold the next.  We may have been able to get enough for another batch, but the sap starts to turn yellow this time of year and we want to gather enough sap in a day or 2 to run a batch, not hold it for several days.  It starts to spoil if it gets warm.  We ended up with about 7 gallons finished, which I bottled in pints and 1/2 pints and will sell at festivals.  So even though we got a late start due to weather, we didn't do too badly.  Last year we produced 10 gallons.

As I said it was cold again Sunday and we awoke to a dusting of snow again on Monday morning.  Since then it has been warm, then cold and rainy and warm and today it is just cold again.  Last week I took some pictures of these neat ice "stalactites" in the creek.  I haven't ever seen them like that

Things are still kind of quiet on the farm.  We are just waiting for warm weather so we can get out and start working in the garden, catch up on barn clean-up and spread a year's worth of manureAs it is now, Sam is still cutting firewood because the wood burner is still going 24 hours a day.  I am also researching sheep breeds with the intention of eventually getting a few sheep.  I have a couple breeds in mind and hope to learn more about them.
Sam is also spending a lot of time on the kitchen at Mom's house down the road.  My mom does not live there, but she bought the house to stay in when she visited us and it is used as a guest house and is a great place for family to stay when they visit.  It had a lot of necessary updates shortly after purchase, but some things had to wait.  The kitchen was functional, but barely.  So 10+ years later, it is getting its "facelift".  

 All the old paneling and wall board has been removed.  The picture above is the wall facing the road where the sink used to be.  As you can see there is no insulation.  So Sam is doing some re-wiring and then insulation will be added.  Note the upperleft had corner above the window.  See the lighter colored area?  Here's another shot of that.

Not all the wall board has been removed in this shot.  There are a couple big wasp nests and whatever that nest is.  Below is a close up of it.  I've never seen anything like it.  Hornets of some kind?  Hopefully insulation and drywall will help to keep some of nature outside where it belongs.  We have always had problems with wasps in this house.

In other news, the big drilling rig which was across the road on the hilltop overlooking our hayfield for 6 months has been removed.  This means they are done with the vertical drilling into the Utica shale and the next step is hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as "fracking".  Not sure when this will commence, but I understand it is very noisy, though not as time consuming as the drilling.  So for right now it is quiet when I step out the back door in the morning and the sky is not lit up with industrial lights.  

I posted a couple photos last month about the timber cutting on the property bordering ours.  I think they are done.  It looks like a bomb or 2 went off.  What a mess.  I hope it will look less awful when the leaves are out on the trees.

 At least then it will be harder to see.  It was so pretty down through here.  Not anymore.

I finished knitting a sweater this week.  This is a terrible photo because it is on the blocking mats.

It is just a comfy cardigan in a yarn I got on sale.  It is more of a purple red than the photo shows.  

Here also is round 3 of the sock round robin I am doing:

My contribution is the top part once again.  I did it in a pattern called 'Spring Forward" since we are all waiting anxiously for spring.  I have yet to receive round 4.  I expect it any day now.  

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