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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Sugaring Time Again

Pretty Apples!


Tomorrow we will be halfway through February!  Truly a reason to celebrate.  It won't be long before the peepers are singing in the frog pond up above the house.  Meanwhile, the weather continues its crazy ups and downs.  

 

I arrived home Sunday evening from an agility trial with Grover and it was in the 50s and the backyard looked like this.








When I got up Monday morning, it looked like this.  We must have had 2" of rain followed by 3" of wet heavy beautiful snow.  I did not expect it at all.

Grover and I had a successful agility trial.  We were 50/50 Qs and NQs.  Fortunately 2 of the Qs earned us our 16th double Q.  4 more to go and we will start really counting points to get to 750.  We are at 492 as of this trial.  One of the dogs who was in Grover's and my beginning agility class, T-Bo, a Sheltie, earned his MACH this weekend.  I missed his MACH run because I was working in the other ring, but it was still fun to be there with him and his handlers.  And very exciting since he and Grover started at the same time.  We will be trialing again the second and third weekends in March.

 


Sam tapped trees on the 3rd of February.  The weather forecast had looked favorable for the sap to run, but as we all know forecasts are often incorrect and can change and indeed, it never warmed up enough until this past weekend.  



 


But Sam collected 11  3-gallon buckets of sap on Sunday, so I ran the first batch through yesterday all day.  I also added in another 3 buckets that I collected in the afternoon.  I was very pleased with the finished syrup we produced, though I wish there had been more of it.  I got 2 quarts from all that sap.  It represents about 12 hours of feeding the fire and stove-top finishing.  Hopefully the next run will have better sugar content.


 
 If you look closely you can see the steam rising from the evaporator in the sugar shack.  We have a bench seat from our old van in the shack and it is pretty comfortable, though I had a hard time getting warm yesterday.  It was around 32 degrees in the morning and never got above 40 all day.  




Monday afternoon
The sugar shack is at the pond which is almost a mile from the house.  Half of that distance is on an unpaved farm road which is all uphill.  And boy was it a sloppy mess yesterday!  So we try not to have to run back and forth to the house too much.  We do have an outhouse up by the pond. It can be seen on the other side of the pond in this photo.   I am glad I do not have to use an outhouse every day!


Monday morning


I do like syrup season.  First of all, I love the syrup and second, it comes at the tail end of winter, so spring is not far behind.








 

  Our maple grove (or sugar bush as it is often referred to) is on the side and top of a high ridge.  The photo of Grover with the sap bucket in the background was taken at the ridgetop.  It is one of the highest places on our farm and it is beautiful, especially in winter when one can see the surrounding terrain.  But one of the sad things we have noted in the last couple of years is that the Emerald Ash Borer has finally made it to our area and we have many, many trees which are showing signs of infestation.  I am told that the damage we see on the outside of the tree is actually done by woodpeckers which are going after the insects which are in the tree.  Sam has cut down some of these trees to try to see if any of the lumber is salvageable and others are just becoming firewood.  Our understanding is that these insects may wipe out most of the ash trees.  The EAB is an invasive species from Asia, as are the "ladybugs" which infest my house every fall looking for a place to overwinter.  They have been really bad this year....



I knitted this "Dark Side" hat for the 8 year old boy who lives down the road.  It has Tie-fighters on it also around the top, which cannot be seen in this photo.  I used a favorite hat pattern and borrowed the storm trooper chart from another project on Ravlery.com and then graphed out the tie-fighters myself.  Son Zac was here while I was working on this and he now wants a Death Star hat...I'll have to see what I can do.

I also started something new to me, band-weaving.  This uses a small loom called an Inkle loom, one of which Mom gave me for Christmas.



This one I have started may end up as a guitar strap.  That is the intention anyway.  But I can also weave dog leashes and collars and belts and other types of straps or bands.  Because I don't already have enough things to do!  This has been quite a learning experience so far.  It is very different from weaving on a traditional loom, but it is also portable and it is fun.

Next week I am off to Oregon!  I am going out to attend the baby shower being given for my son and daughter-in-law.  I have not seen them since August and I am really looking forward to spending some time with them.  When I get home from Oregon, February will be almost over!  And then spring will arrive.....
 

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