Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maple Sugaring Update

I had great fun boiling down my first batch of sap. I wound up with just one half pint of beautiful syrup. I like syrup with some taste to it so I continually added sap to the pot to make the final product a bit darker. The weather was nice and I set up my little fire pit near the wood pile. I set up a lawn chair close by where I could easily watch the sap and the fire. I bought out the camera and took some pictures but I don't know when I'll get the roll developed. (Have to get that digital camera!) We had a cold spell so the sap didn't run for a couple of days, but it is starting up again now. I figure to have about another week of sap collecting before the temps get too high. I need another 2 1/2 gallons of sap before I have enough to boil down again. Well, at least I know this is something I like doing and you know what that means for next year!

The seedlings in the basement are doing fine except for the Buttercrunch lettuce. I don't know if that is just a slow germinator or if the seeds I have are bum. Anyway, those seeds are not germinating. The endive and cabbage is coming up just fine. I will start eggplant, sweet peppers, and more lettuce this week. I really am surprised at how well the herbs are sprouting. Maybe they know I plan to plant them in a medicine wheel garden!

I will be out in the field hopefully by the end of this week to start working in the orchard and the high tunnel. We went to town and picked up the bale of bamboo poles I bought to make pole bean trellises with. If I have any poles left, I'll use them to stake the tomato plants. Personally, I like letting my tomatoes sprawl -- they just seem healthier to me and I get LOADS of tomatoes, but I think how well your plants do depends in large part on how the weather is overall for the season. We had to go to town to get the poles because the roads are restricted now. Thanks to Billy and Kathy Ernst for letting me take delivery at the Butternut Feed Store!

I am going to be doing a lot of planting! I am waiting on the apple and cherry trees, and I went ahead and bought 24 hazelnut and juneberry trees not from St. Lawrence, but from Chief River Nursery in Hayward -- thought I would give them a try as they were recommended as a source of good stock. We'll see how the stock does. And, I have more elderberries and plum trees coming, too. I am going to plant most of these around the inside perimeter of the fence along the road side of the field after we move the fence line out of the new easement. The hard part is waiting for the plants to mature enough to bear fruit! It will be a beautiful field is a couple of years.

I am still thinking about getting some of those Doyle Thornless Blackberries. I was going to put them in the front of the house, but as they are supposed to be trellised, I think I may use them like landscaping plants for a hedge effect in back of the house where they will be sheltered by the balsams from the north wind but get plenty of sun from the south. And being close to the house I will be better able to water them. Then, too, they will be separated from the wild raspberry patch I am cultivating in the front yard, so I won't worry about disease so much. Also looking at setting up some mushroom logs this coming fall under the trees near the chicken coop. I found a nice patch of trillium growing and think that would be a good spot to put some golden seal and ginseng.

We have a good sized racoon coming by the bird feeders. The motion light was going on and off for hours last night! I told Tom I want to get a varmint permit from the DNR so we can shoot it. I make sure the chicken coop is closed up tight at night. I wish I had Great-grandpa's 8 guauge. (I don't think you need to know how to shoot with that!)

Well, have to go. We're having corned beef and cabbage today.

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