Sugaring Time

A strange winter continues here in upstate New York.  Mostly it has been mild.  We have not recieved much snow. The temperatures last week were unseasonably warm.  Regardless, it is late February and that means the maple sap is running. How well it is running is the topic of conversation.  The truth is we will not know for another week or two how the season went.  Today, I get to boil, and boil, and boil.   The next timeyou have maple syrup on your pancakes remember some boil 40 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup.  Usually, at this point in the process I wonder why I do this.  Mostly, because I like it.  There s deep joy in making something for yourself.  Maybe it tastes sweeter.  My little operartion begins with three maple trees.  They are old, wonderful producers.

I collect the sap daily, and boil when I can.  Last week I was getting about ten gallons a day.  I can not keep up with the much production. Sadly, some of the sap spoiled.  

I think I have found a boiling set up that will allow me boil more than before.  With some adjusts of our fire ring I seem to have found space to create enough heat to boil and to maintain that temperature for longer periods of time.  

I only do the crude boiling outside.  I “finish” inside. I use a candy thermometer to confirm it has change from sap to syrup.  I then bottle it.  At the end of the season I spend two weeks cleaning the kitchen.  While, the syrup smells nice ittends to leave a sticky film over the kitchen.  Two weeks usually is enough timeto find those surprising spots,and allows me to ponder “how in the world did that get there.”  

Time to add another log to the fire.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.

Transplanting is Transformational

The Micro Farm is a “buzz” with activity.

Pollinators are enjoying the black raspberry flowers

Pollinators are enjoying the black raspberry flowers

The strawberry patch is also producing lovely berries this year.  Such a nice crop mean I need to protect the ripe berries from animals nibbling.

The strawberries protected

The strawberries protected

I use a bird netting purchased at a local nursery.  It keeps most of the critters from eating the ripe fruit.

I spent a good deal of the week transplanting seedlings.  One evening while working on the Micro Farm.  I noticed small movements near my neighbor’s shed.  Sure enough two small rabbits.  I knew I needed to do something to protect my tender and young plants.  Fencing is what I needed, but I wanted to avoid the traditional woven metal fence.  A local home store had landscaping timbers on sale, decision made.

New "fencing"

New “fencing”

Hopefully this will keep the rabbits out.  We will have to wait and see.

I transplanted tomatoes, peppers, celery, cabbage, and cauliflower.

Cabbage transplants

Cabbage transplants

Cauliflower transplant

Cauliflower transplant

Tomato transplants

Tomato transplants

I also planted five pounds of seed potatoes, another 75 onion sets, beets, edamame,  popcorn, and carrots.

Growing greens has been a failure so far this season.  So I am tried putting some seed in six-packs to determine the quality of the seed.  The seed produced well.  I In another week I will put them into the ground.

Lettuce seedlings

Lettuce seedlings

As the rain falls tonight.  I am excited to see how the young plants spring to life over the next week.

Enjoy this season, learn from last season, and look forward to next season.