Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ignorance Confirmed

We don’t know what we are doing.

Gathering sap in the deep woods has proven to challenge our little pea brains. We have had two vehicles stuck so far and had to recruit help to save us.

Lesson 1 –  Tap trees that are close to roads or well established trails that are not on severe inclines.

We built a cute little “sugar shack” to boil down our sap.  You don’t want to boil it down in the house unless you want to attract every ant in the county. And strip all the wallpaper.  Well….maybe we do want to boil it in the house.

Typical sugar shack.

Typical sugar shack.

Our sugar shack

Our sugar shack

This construction works fabulous. All snuggled in the dirt as long as it doesn’t rain.   Pops boiled all day Sunday.  Sunny, lovely day.  We bottled 5 pints.  Takes 8 hours to make 5 – 8oz. bottles.  Jeez.

The trees are flowing.  That means boil more.  Stop flowing for a minute, why don’t ya.

The next day, it was my turn at the sugar shack.

RAIN

RAIN

It poured all day.  I began at 9:00 a.m.  and I finished it up inside at 10:30 p.m.   Got 7 – 8 oz. bottles.  This game is not for the impatient of mind.   Puppies hung in there and were NASTY.

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Lesson 2 –  Better constructed “sugar shack” to protect from elements.  And add gravel to avoid 6 inches of sloppy mud slides.

Lesson 3 – Make a better system with a smoke stack or flew so I am not inhaling smoke for 12 or more hours.  I feel like I have been at the Mousetrap bellied up at the bar with my best smokin’ buddy.

Lesson 4 – Cancel ALL plans for two weeks.  Do nothing AND think of nothing but sap.  It is impossible to do anything else while this is going on.  I tried taking my paints out there.  Painted for about 2 minutes.  Read about 3 paragraphs in my book.  Watched a little  tv on my Ipad.

Lesson 5 – Use the kind of filter that “they” say to use so you don’t have so much shmagma floating around in the bottle.  Farmer Bob had an extra one so today’s batch turned out very clean.

By the way, if you choose to try this venture yourself, get your neighbor to do it along side you.  Makes it more fun.  Talkin’ about all the mistakes we are makin’.

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Can you believe it?  I am still bowled over.

So, where does it all end?  At some point we have to pull the plug and say enough.  And it will probably be before the tree is done sapping.  We plan to  do two more days of boiling and will call it quits for the year.  Maybe.  But, hey,  it was worth it.

Red Gold.

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God bless,

Karen

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Off On Another We-Dont-Know-What-We-Are-Doing Adventure

But these little fellers are ready and waiting.  They don’t care, they just want to participate.  IMG_4385

I wish I was childlike enough to want to participate not having any idea what the event was.  I could learn a lesson or two from my animals who trust in me to guide them without question.  I want to  do that with God, but for some reason I think I should be in the driver’s seat with the control panels.  EVERY time  I get in the back seat with my animals and let go and let God,  life is better.   And fruitful.   Not always easy.  But it sure lightens my burden a ton.

But we are off to the sugar bush.  What did I just say?  Never used those words until now, but like I said, new adventure using words I’ve never used.  We are tapping some of our maples to make Shieling Maple Syrup.  Found in a grocery near you.  Well, maybe someday.  Not in this lifetime.   Last year we went out to pick our Maples and realized it was a little difficult to do in the winter since there are no leaves on the trees for identification.  This past summer, I actually had a moment of forethought and skidaddled out there to mark the trees.

We are on track for something.

Sugaring season is about a 4-6 week period beginning in mid to late February.  From what I read and hear, we tap the trees when the temperatures reach  40’s-50 during the day and sink below freezing at night.  This is the ideal environment for the sap to run up and down the tree  getting ready for who knows what.  I will let you know when I know.   Probably getting ready to fruit and leaf out and all that wonderful stuff trees do in the Spring.  Tapping the trees is the easy part.  It took me all of an hour to tap 10 trees.

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I then hung two gallon plastic bags on to the spouts.

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And then, we wait.   I tapped the trees two days ago.  Yesterday, each bag had about 1/2 cup of sap.  The temperatures were not high enough for much activity.  We are expecting some good solid 40’s in the coming days, so we should be in business.  But who knows.  I read that when temps reach high 40’s -50’s the sap can just pour.  That would be a sight.

The hard part is gathering the sap into 5 gallon buckets to place over a wood fire outside and watching it boil down into luscious syrup.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. It takes A LONG time to get there.  Days, my friend.  Days.  Someone has to be on hand to feed the fire.  My goal is to get 2 gallons of syrup.  Is that a reasonable goal with 10 trees and the time we have to stand by the fire?  I have no idea.  We’ve never done this before.  But I can tell you that little Virginia and Samdog are goin’ to be lovin’ it.   That means major time with Mom and Dad in the coming days.

The highlight of our tree tapping day was the game that the dogs (and Farmer Bob) played with an opossum.  It was the first time I have ever seen an opossum play dead.  It was alive and well then just rolled over.  At first I thought, “oh not, that opossum is not right.  Something is terribly wrong”.  But then remembered that is what they do.  Oh yeah.  I forgot.

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I hope our efforts bear wonderful fruits.  How do you keep a fire burning for days on end and get anything else done?  hmm.

God bless,

Karen

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The Upside Of Felled Trees

After I got over the shock of having our precious trees cut down that had died over the last year, I turned my head to more positive horizons.  All the glorious things that I can make with the felled trees.  Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have a Farmer Bob living next door to me.  Very very lucky us.  The first few years we had this property when I was here by myself most often, I could not make a move without “yoohooing”  for Farmer Bob.  He was the man with all the equipment.  We had not built anything on the property yet so we did not own anything.  Anyway, Bob is a treasure.  (So is his VERY supportive wife.  God love her.)

Bob has a Wood Mizer.  Every woman’s dream.   Bob came over on his John Deere tractor  (every woman’s dream tooBob has all the fun toys) and took one of my felled trees. We went back to his house and made lumber.   Imagine that.  It’s kinda like shrimp.   Some people think shrimp comes out of the sea pink.  Some people think wood comes out of the forest 2 x 4″s .   It is a joy to  stand at the wood mizer  head spinning with project ideas.  Meanwhile,  Bob stands and waits while I decide what dimensions I want him to cut.   Oh, a table for my son.  Oh,  and I want to make a cross for our chapel. Oh, and could you wait while I figure the dimensions for this.  For that.   Cause, really, once it is cut there is no going back.  My head began wildly imagining all the things I could make with all the fallen wood on our property.   The list is endless.   I have construction in my blood. (well, at least the desire for ) It goes back generations.    I LOVE WOOD.  My heart was beating fast at Bob’s and my adrenaline was at a high.  I am not good at constructing necessarily,  but I have a wood shop that gets used and maybe I will step out and try to make something…. quite something.  We have wood , wood everywhere.

Farmer Bob loading the mill

Farmer Bob loading the mill

Farmer Bob's relative lookin' cool at the mill

Farmer Bob’s relative lookin’ cool at the mill

Running the mill

Running the mill

Wood stacked in barn

Wood stacked in barn

This is, I believe, white oak.  It’s moisture content is about  65 percent at the point it is cut and will need to get below 10 percent before I can work with it.  Otherwise, it will warp and do other unsightly things.  Make my creations look bad.   I wont have anything to do with my creations looking bad, of course.

I think Bob is going to regret ever having introduced me to his handsome Wood Mizer.

Thank God for neighbors.  Well…..most anyway.  Right, Bob?

God bless,

Karen

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This Little Piggy Went To The Market.

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This Little Piggy Stayed Home

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef.

This Little Piggy Had Roast Beef.

This Little Piggy Had None

This Little Piggy Had None

These Little Piggies Went Wee Wee All The Way Home

These Little Piggies Went Wee Wee Wee Wee All The Way Home

Here is another video (I promise, I will not make a habit of videoing. ).  I wanted to capture the day of the cattle reckoning.  One thing that I have learned in watching these videos, is that I have an extreme limited vocabulary.   And I am NOT a seasoned cattle rancher.  Enjoy.

God bless you today,

Karen

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Ya Wanna Help Me Get Ready For A Partay?

What do you think about when it is time to prepare for a party?  Lists. Lists. And more lists, where I am concerned.  The bigger the party, the more daunting.  Don’t you wish we could enjoy that process as much as we are supposed to enjoy the actual “partay”?  It is just plain hard work.    We have to take time out of our already busy schedules to get ‘er done.  It ain’t easy.  But what is?

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The day that  I was born, I don’t remember hearing, or any other day for that matter,  that life is easy.  Have you?  Has there ever been a time when your parents, teachers, siblings, etc said to you, “Sit back and relax, Sugar, for you are on a journey of  cinch. ” Piece of cake.  A breeze.

Why, then, is it so punishing for us to get our arms wrapped around life when it gets difficult? Which,  for me,  is every day.

I’m guessing 99 percent of our resentments stem from life not throwing us the easy life line that we desperately deserve.  (I just looked up “easy” in the thesaurus and it gave me “sluttish”   Oh my goodness.  Is that a word in our Webster?)

Could this life be a preparation for something else to come?  Really.  When you think about it, what are we doing all this for?  Look at the steps we take in planning a party.  It’s like a miniature look at our bigger picture life.  Getting supplies.  Making lists.  Working with others to get ‘er done.  Cleaning.   Communicating.   Teaching each other what we know so that we can be on the same page.  Ultimately,  it is an effort to get to a place where we can enjoy each other’s company.  Like when we get home from work at the end of a long day.

Tomorrow, Lent begins.  Lent is a time for the preparation of  what?  For Christians, it is a time to walk through 40 days with Christ as He prepares to die for our sins three days before Easter.   It is a time for us to see that life IS NOT easy,  as He so plainly shows us and that sacrifices are made.     So how do we move through that walk with Him?  We are asked to give up something that we enjoy so that we may feel, somehow, empathy for what He did.   Not sure if by me not eating candy, I will get a sense of His torture on the cross.   But, in our own little way, we want to suffer with Him.   I am here to tell you, it is HARD to give up something you love.

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Also, we are encouraged to pray with Him.  That is a sacrifice of time.  It is HARD to give that time.  We are also encouraged to give to charity.  It is HARD to give up that money that could otherwise be spent on moi.  It’s not easy.

Oh, but who told me it was easy?  I keep trying to track that source down.   I want want want easy.  The only thing that is really easy in my life is when I get to take a nap.   I asked Pops last year, what would he do on a Saturday afternoon if he could do whatever he wanted.  He said play golf.   My response was, “Have fun.  Cause I’m taking a nap.”  Number 1 thing on my easy list.

Lent is  like a preparation for a party.  The party being the risen Christ who died for our sins.  Thank God.  I would hate to have to account for all of my ghastly sins.  ugh.

Life is like a preparation for a party.  The party being the day that I get to go live with my Savior who partied with me every Easter of my life.   Every day of my life for that matter.

I would hate to spend my life preparing for a party that never happens.  Let me get the hard stuff done so I can get on with it.

God bless,

Karen

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Come Wade With Me

……through birdland.

Videographer, I am not.  Excuse my editing talents.  I made myself sick with all the “Hey, girls” in the video.  I could not subject you to all of them.

God bless,

Karen

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Pagans. Water. Sacrifice.

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The original meaning of “pagan”  is country dweller.  When city folk made their way into the country with their Christian views, some country dwellers didn’t take too readily.  The definition evolved into:  country dwellers who were not Christians.  Today, I dont hear “country dwellers” when referring to pagans.

We traveled to Cleveland last week to see my son in a performance.  It was about a beautiful lake that had dried up.  Scientists were trying figure out how to make water to fill it back up.  Meanwhile, the “water spirits” were devastated that the water was gone as were the lake visitors.  It was a beautiful collaboration of artists of all mediums from my son’s college.  Dancers, musicians, visual artists, technical artists, etc.

Just love this graphic.

Just love this graphic.

When it was over, I heard the people  behind us talking about pagans and then Pops mentioned that they used pagan rituals in the performance.  It went totally over my head.  I am very ignorant when it comes to paganism.  I wouldn’t see it if it came up and kissed me on my cheek.  Mainly cause I don’t know what they are.  And it seems to me not appropriate to call someone a name that is not a Christian.  For me, they are simply people who do not share Christian beliefs.  The word “pagan” sounds derogatory to me.

What I took away from the play is how important our water is to us.  It is a necessity.  It feeds us.  It cleanses us.  It is a thing of beauty.  It heals us.  It entertains us.  It feels good against our bodies.  It is powerful.   It touches each of our senses.  Gosh.  Really something, isn’t?  It is the essential element for life.  Thank you, God, for giving us a beautiful gift.

In the play, they  sacrificed a couple of  people (I think.  Like I said, it went totally over my head.  This is what I was told. I was busy gathering my own interpretation that had nothing to do with human sacrificing) to bring the water back.

There was a quote  that I was struck by.  “Nothing can be gained from a solitary sacrifice from one who always cared.”

 (A great exception to that is  the solitary sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross to save us from our wretched sins.  Much has been gained from that.) 

I interpreted the quote to mean:  That if I care about something very much, it will not be a sacrifice for me to  continue to care.   If I have not cared too deeply for something then, to begin caring, it will be a sacrifice.  A simple “water” example for this is that if I have always cared about the conservation of water,  to use less water in showering, brushing my teeth, washing dishes and watering the lawn will not be a great deal.  But if I haven’t cared, then making those changes would be a sacrifice.

AND  in this case,  we must collectively sacrifice to make a difference.

Aside from the fact we all need water, we all love water, don’t we?   I know I love to see water running through our creeks and rivers.  Big waves crashing on our beaches.  In order to preserve what we love,  don’t we collectively have to make sacrifices for that precious element?

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It is a critical issue.  Are we  taking measures to protect our water for our children and their children.  Sacrifice IS the answer.

God bless, you people.  I love you.

Karen

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