Friday, April 29, 2011

The Little Things in Life are the Big Things

I know......I've been a BAD blogger, nearly 2 weeks from my last post. It is nice to feel missed as evidence by an e-mail I received last night from my cousin.

One of our Muscovies hatched out 10 ducklings a couple days ago. Aren't they just the cutest animal EVER? CB's incubator is full of duck eggs so we have more on the way.
Life has been busy but.....I will be posting again real soon.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Liquid Gold

As asked by a few readers to share the entire process of collecting sap and making syrup here goes...I first posted back in March when we tapped our Maple trees. There are a couple ways to boil down sap which we've experimented with in previous years, gas and/or wood. The method we currently use seems to be the most cost effective and least labor intensive. To boil down exclusively by gas is very expensive and cooking over an open fire is a lot of work! This year we only tapped 3 trees. 2 taps in the two big trees and 1 in the small one so we had 5 buckets to empty every day.

In the old summer kitchen in our farmhouse we have an ancient Ashley wood stove. We simply remove the cover and boil down the sap in a shallow pan directly atop the wood stove. We add to the sap as it boils down throughout the day and towards night we stop adding to it. Most every evening we would boil down the remains of the pan inside on our gas range. It was just easier to tend without fear of turning it into sugar. Instead I boiled it over a few times and made a HORRENDOUS mess :/

After boiling for a few hours I tested the syrup by placing a spoonful in a cool dish to check for consistency and color. If it is to my liking I would pour into hot canning jars while filtering with cheesecloth. Cap it and turn the jars upside down for the caps to seal.

Viola....Liquid Gold!

Over 5 gallons of it. Do the math and that is approximately 200 gallons of sap.

It is currently going for $50/gallon in this area.

We've enjoyed it on homemade waffles, maple syrup shakes, over ice cream, blueberry-maple muffins and this week I hope to to make some granola with it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Every Picture Tells a Story

Last weeks we started hearing squeaks coming from Country Boy's incubator.

Within a few hours they were busting out of their shells. We helped the above chicken break out a bit because he was really struggling and one of the last to hatch. We've never had good luck with "helping out" but amazingly this little guy survived.
Not a great incubation rate this time around. Only 10 out of 40 eggs hatched. Better luck next time around. The key is to keep a moist environment which we lacked on a little towards the end. Our bad!
CB sold them within a couple days. Now he has his incubator filled with Muscovy eggs. We also have a Momma Muscovy sitting on a nest of eggs. Hers will hatch out way before the batch in the incubator. Remember last year when one of our hens hatched out and tended 26 ducklings? Now that is just crazy!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What's Not to Love?

Can't help but to post this picture again because I absolutely LOVE it and well I LOVE them!

That being said I think it deserved it's very own post.

When Maine Man and I went up to bed the other night our door was peppered with sticky notes of "I love yous & your the best". Then to find a note above our bed of 6 sticky notes stuck together.

It read ....You both make my wonderful life and you make me the person I really am! I love you both so very much! I hope your days are fantastic! I love you both with all my heart! Hope you enjoy all the letters I wrote! Love you xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

With lots & lots of love

Your loving little girl

Flower Girl!!!

To Mom & Dad

I thought that was a pretty sweet thing to write. Figured I'd better preserve to look back on when she's sixteen. ;)

Name That Picture

Thankfully she is a dog that will never know I posted this embarrassing photo ;)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

What's all the Buzz About?

10 years ago if you told me I'd be taking a Bee Keeping class I would have laughed and probably made a few sarcastic remarks.

Amazing how much one changes in a decade!

These pictures were taken at Montshire Museum of Science when we visited Vermont.

I am taking a bee keeping class locally through Adult Ed. We have 1 more class to go and two days in the field come May. Should be interesting! I will definitely take my camera along on one of those field trips. I am not sure if I will start a hive this summer or next. We have had our share of financial setbacks this year and it is not cheap to get up and going. The only supplies I have so far are gloves, my farmer friend plans to build me a hive soon. I'd be willing to do this project with a friend and share the expenses & honey come fall but I've yet to find someone crazy enough to join me in this I never imagined how much is involved in the bee keeping process. They are AMAZING little creatures! I am hoping to incorporate them into Flower Girl's homeschooling adventure next year. This surely will be one heck of a Science lesson!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cruel April Fools Joke!

Yesterday we had yet another snowfall, up near 10 inches in our region.

How cruel! The night before we were playing a game of baseball in the back field.

Today we are shoveling and making our way through knee deep snow to collect sap to boil down more syrup. One thing I can say for sure, it has been one hell of a maple syrup season! I will do one more post on that topic for those that requested seeing the whole process. We only do a small operation, just enough for us. The way we do it requires very little effort so we never tire of the process. Many hours of Maine Man shedding lots of blood, sweat, and tears. :)

Appreciate ALL his hard work!

My first accident which happened on my way home from work yesterday afternoon. Not the first I've been in, but a first when I was driving. Humbling EVENT to say the least!
I walked away with a broken pride, sore nose & neck from the air bag and a couple facial abrasions. Glad there was no cars coming from the other way. Instead it was me vs. guardrail, I am ok with that.

My farmer friend was at the scene within minutes and stayed with me until they towed my vehicle back to my house. SO THANKFUL to have him in my life! At moments like these the support of loved ones is what you need most.

Instead of dwelling on the series of unfortunate events I've had so far this year I will look at the positive. I now have dodged two bullets this year. I am just thankful to have woken up this morning in my own bed. Then cooked these little monkeys WHATEVER they wanted for breakfast and had the ability to pick up their little mess here and there. And no I didn't even complain!