Tag Archives: syrup

Helloooo…

I went missing in action for a while.   I think I was overcome by smoke from the sugar shack.  Truly.   That whole thing was an experience that will probably be repeated (again and again).   It is just SO good.   Much like having a baby.  We forget the pain involved when it’s all over and we actually want to have another after the pain and agony of delivery.   It is very time-consuming and I’m not sure my physical health can withstand standing next to a wood fire for 10 hours at a time.  I have not felt great the last week and am quite positive the boiling had something to do with it.   The second day I had to resort to using a respirator.  We boiled for 7 days and got 30 or so bottles.

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We have some design issues  to contend with this year in planning for next year.   Note the canopy that is trashed on the side in photo.  I purchased the thing two weeks ago to save me and the fire from rain and two inches of snow destroyed it.   ugh.

Life can get a bit messy, cant it?

Which brings me to what is going on in my little pea brain.

We all have to make REALLY HARD decisions some times.  I have a friend who is in that process right now.   Sometimes our decisions make messes of our lives.  And other times, the decisions we make clean up those messes.  The rest of the decisions usually fall somewhere in the middle where we have to feel them and ride them and grow with and by them.

And as we stand by  others as they contemplate decisions,  we  want to  input and many times try to control their decision.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.   Please, help me accept other’s decisions.

How do we come to the decisions we make?  I’m not talking about what to have for dinner.  I’m talking about the biggies.  The ones that form us into who we are and who we have to live with.

Barnes and Noble is stocked full of books on how to’s and self-help.  I have spent years with my nose in books trying to get someONE or someTHING to give me a clue as to who I am supposed to be morally.

Do we know right from wrong innately?  Do we need to be taught right from wrong?

Who do we depend on to give us a moral guideline for right and wrong?  Our parents?  Our political officers?

Do we CARE what is right or wrong?  Do we make decisions in the wind and let them fly where they may?  Let someone else pick up the pieces?

Seriously, folks.  I am asking.  What are we doin’ here?

As I  navigate these questions that burn holes in my heart,  I am inclined to believe that …….do any of us know how to be right and wrong on our own?   Where can we go to check our moral decisions?  How can we be sure that what we are choosing to do, does not hurt ourselves and others?  Does it matter?

Somewhere,  there is a definitive guide to moral judgement.  Wisdom.  God, give. it. to. me. .

Prayer.  Grace.

Since I quit drinking, and began to really delve into these questions,  I have often said that Barnes and Noble can lay one book on the curb and shut their doors.  100 percent of the answers lie in one book.   The Bible.   The day that I decided that I cannot trust  the decisions that I make and I cannot trust the word of others and that the  moral compasses of all of us are spinning round and round wildly, was the day I decided that ANY decision that I make,  I will confer with my “self-help” Book first.   It is consistent, reliable, true and predictable.  I do not have to question the validity.  EVER.  And for that I am more grateful than I can tell you.

Very,  very sorry for my heavy today.  My heart is heavy.  Heavy.   If you are so inclined to pray, please pray for my friend today.

God bless,

Karen

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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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