Friday, January 13, 2006

According to yesterday's weather report last night's low was supposed to be 41F but look what we awoke to! A world of crisp white frost.

I'm fast discovering that we live in a little micro climate and what the weather man calls for is usually NOT what we get! In all my years of living in the U.S. I've never known them to be wrong so often.

Oh well, all the better for sugaring. Sure enough the sap was running again. Since it's only small amounts right now I'm freezing it for later use. We are having company over the weekend so hopefully there'll be enough to boil down for everyone's pancakes at breakfast.
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Let it Drip!

Yes! We have sap.

After feeding the goats this morning I wandered up the pasture to the maple tree to see what might have transpired over night. There was a very small trickle of sap going down the knife blade and into the bottle! I switched to a smaller bottle since it was so slow and when Josh and I went back up there this evening this is what we found.

We hung a new bottle and brought this one back to the house to boil down into syrup.

First we put on a pan of water and measured the temperature of boiling point for this ellevation (2069ft) and then set the sap on to boil. The finishing point for syrup is 7.1F above the boiling point of water. With such a small amount of sap it was difficult to know if we had an accurate reading as it was just a mass of frothy bubbles. So we kind of had to hope for the best and guess a little. It could probably have been boiled down a bit further but once it turned light amber and the amount was a lot less that we started with ( this is also the redneck fuzzy math method) I decided to stop it there. With larger batches that are going to be stored I would make sure it was just right, but this was going to be consumed in no time flat!

And look what we got....Posted by Picasa

Liquid Gold!

There are no other words to describe it. Joshua and I taste tested it and it was wonderful! We were dancing around the kitchen. Every bit as good as any syrup I've had from New England.

Boy am I excited now. Once the sap really starts to run I'm going to be boiling and bottling like crazy!

Got to make some modifications to the fire pit so that it can be done outside though otherwise the kitchen walls and ceiling are going to be all sticky from the steam.

If you've ever thought of doing this and been put off by people telling you your trees aren't the right type, or you're too far south don't believe it. Just do it!
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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Oooh Roving!

I named this blog The Inky Spinnery because it was supposed to be about my eraser carving/ soft block printing and spinning expliots. With all our moving and getting settled in here both have been on the back burner for a long time. Never did post about spinning. Anyway, over the holidays I saw this lovely roving on ebay and just had to have it.

The color is Shane's Red from the Brown Sheep Company. Actually it's the waste from the yarn making process.

Not sure what I'm going to use it for yet.
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I couldn't wait to get started with it! Posted by Picasa

The white stuff that's aleady on there is some Cheviotte. I have a lot of it but find it really difficult to spin because it's like elastic. I was giving it another go over Christmas and this bit seems to have come out better.  Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 06, 2006

Redneck Sugaring!

A local old timer who grew up on a farm a mile or two away told me that back when he was a boy his father used to tap their maple trees.

"He would cut a "V" into the trunk, hammer in a table knife and hang a bucket to catch the sap."

So, a couple of months ago while the maples where still identifiable by their leaves Ken and I went up the hill by the side of the house and marked all the larger ones with engineering tape.

The time to start sugaring is when the night time temperatures drop below freezing but the daytime temperatures warm up into the 40's.

Up in New Hampshire my neighbours would usually begin sugaring sometime in March but since we are so much farther south I figure it will probably be quite a bit earlier here but I'm not sure exactly when. Well, this week we suddenly broke out of our deep freeze and into the 50's! They're now predicting a few days of just the temperatures needed for sugaring.

Oooh, what to do? I had intended to order some of the proper metal spiles and didn't get around to it. So, in my panic at maybe missing the window of opportunity I decided to resort to the table knife method!

This particular tree isn't in the best of shape because of having a fence nailed to it at one time. I wasn't going to tap it but yesterday I was reading up on the subject and one guy said he gets the sweetest sap from the most disfigured trees! So I decided to try this one after all.
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After hammering in the table knife with a rock I slid the plastic tube from a candy thermometer over it - to help direct the flow into the jug.

Nothing happened! I think it's still too early.
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Thursday, January 05, 2006

Just what I always wanted!

I've been wanting a set of circular knitting needles for a long time but always balked at the price. Well I finally got some for Christmas from my wonderful hubby. We had a 40% off coupon for "Michael's" and when we got to the store they were on sale! They should have been about $90 and we got them for about $23!

A couple of days later when Ken and Josh were in town without me they picked up a Barns and Noble gift certificate and slipped it in my stocking.

I have a set of straight needles that my Mum and Dad once got me so now I have no excuse not to knit!

Actually, I love to knit but lost all my inspiration when living in North Carolina. I'm so happy to finally be in a place that has a real winter! Posted by Picasa

I used my Barns and Noble gift certificate to buy this. It turns out that Ken almost bought this very book for me but changed his mind.
"There were just so many knitting books I decided to get you the gift certificate so you could choose the one you wanted"
There are some real nice patterns inside. The pink cover doesn't do it justice. Posted by Picasa

And this is what I'm making. A little sleeveless vest for Joshua. I found three balls of this grey Pinguin yarn in my stash. No idea when or where I bought it. I think I must have got it way back in the '80's when I lived up in Northern New Hampshire. The blue and burgundy is some 'el cheapo' stuff from Wal-mart. I'm trying to use up as much as I can of the all the old yarn I've collected over the years. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Our Little Miracle

Miracle is his name! Posted by Picasa
Here he is at about a week old. Posted by Picasa
It took three hours for the little chick to break completely out of his shell. Posted by Picasa

One day in November I was rummaging through a box in the barn when I came across a little egg incubator. It isn't much more than a toy really. I bought it a couple of years ago thinking it would make a good homeschool project. We tried it one time with no luck and then it got set aside and forgotten. All the parts were there so after stopping by the chicken pen and picking up a newly laid egg we decided to give this thing another try.

The egg is supposed to be turned numerous times a day -I remembered to do it usually once or twice and some days not at all. The humidity has to be just right - I threw a medicine cup of water in there about every 4 days. The temperature has to stay constant at about 100 degrees F. We had a heck of a time keeping it just right and it fluctuated between 91 and 104!! Needless to say on day 21 when Joshua came running yelling "Mom, the eggs making a noise!" I was in shock. I'd been telling him not to get his hopes up because the chances of this egg hatching were slim to none.

Sure enough the egg was "peeping" and a little hole had appeared on one side which as you can see grew larger as the hours went on. Posted by Picasa

Happy New Year

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Here it is New Year's Day and my resolution is to keep up with this blog!

Gosh, I don't know where the time goes. I know so many people who say there's no way they could be a stay home Mum.
"I'd be so bored". "What do you find to do all day?"
Well, let me tell you, I don't stop from the minute my feet hit the ground in the morning to the time I roll into bed about midnight. There just aren't enough hours to do all I want to get done.

We've been pretty much iced in for over a month now! A couple of snow storms and then rain that froze solid on top of the snow. You could hardly stand up out there it was so slick making the frequent trecks back and forth to the barn very scary! We ended up investing these: and boy do they work good! You can walk on sheer ice and not fall down. So if you live in a place that gets frequent ice storms these are what you need.

Anyway, Happy New Year to those who may still be stopping by here.