We’ve said so long to another maple season. We finished out the season by having Parker’s classmate and her family over for the final collection.
But first there was a quick game of early season croquet.
On the way out to the trees, I stopped to visit my little fig tree. I unburied it at the end of March, which was a little difficult because I wasn’t exactly sure where it was … within the area anyway. It was beautiful and alive and so happy to be freed from winter. Just like me.
It is a little hard to see, but it is about half of Merry’s height. As you may recall it was given to me last summer about 2′ tall. A complete experiment since fig trees live in climate zone 7 and we’re 2 zones cooler than that. (Please note that all farm chores should be done in boots that are too big for our feet and pretzels that are too big for our mouths.)
I also stopped to take a picture of Brian’s arch enemy. See the vine on the tree that is thicker than my fingers? That is poison ivy. See how healthy it is, even so early in spring? We are very good at growing poison ivy. So far we’ve all had little itchy spots, but unfortunately our tiny 2 year old got it the most. I will get rid of poison ivy or it will be my undoing…knock on wood… but not poison ivy covered wood.
In the end, we netted out a fairly successful maple season: 5 gallons. Five gallons of syrup means we boiled down 200 gallons of syrup. This took roughly 3 weeks to accomplish, however this was not happening every day, as would be ideal. Without day jobs, children and the occasional household stopping illness we might have been able to get it down to 2 weeks.
We also used 10 gallons of sap to make about 5 cases of beer: 1 Sap Sucker IPA and 1 Ridiculously Maple Red. That won’t be ready until we’re deep in planting season.
We learned many things, like purchasing real equipment is quite time and cost efficient. We also learned that last year’s syrup was under boiled (too watery) where this year we had a problem with over boiling (crystallized in the jars). Next year we should have it about right.
But overall, we feel more confident, we had a lot of fun and we made some really amazing tasting stuff. Since we’re a big family, we will probably use all of what we made, but there are promises to make more next year. It is really satisfying to see our skill and our products grow with the farm.
In Other News
Here are some pictures of spring as it begins to pop up here. First, the crocus come out…
Then the spring veggies! Rhubarb starts to pop…
But best of all… ESTATE SALES!
Yeah, much like my friend Melissa at Yummy Goods, we happen to have a small addiction to estate sales. You should see us Saturday mornings. Coffee in hand and kids on hips, we race in a dervish style pack from one house to the next, hungrily poking through the remnants of lives we never knew. For us, it is all about finding that thing that would never appear in a store, brings a whiff of nostalgia with it and sends each of us over the moon… all for $1 or so. We applaud each other’s victory and we’re constantly searching for each other’s collection. Even my girls get a gleam in their eyes when they hear that there is a “treasure sale” nearby.
These are some items from a recent score. I’m into many things, but here you can see my love of vintage tablecloths, funky bed linens and kooky pillows.
I’ve been known to buy many many tea towels with thoughts of sewing projects dancing in my head… only to recall that I can’t sew. This is why it is good to be friends with Melissa.
A dish towel hand embroidered with a policeman stopping dishes that are running away? Come on, how could you pass such a thing up?