Thursday, February 14, 2019

A new hobby - maple syrup!

Trees are tapped!

I'm in love with this already. 

Although there was a brief "Oh no what have I done moment" when I looked outside this morning and realized there was about 4.5 gallons of sap that appeared OVERNIGHT. The plan is to save this all up frozen and have one big processing day. Can already tell storage/storage containers are going to be an... um... issue. Oh goodness. 

More to follow...

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Missing my mother

My mother died 4 years ago, when I was 6 months pregnant with my first son. I think of her every single day. Some days are not too terrible, other days it's a bit much. Those are the days when I turn on Neil Diamond, remember the time she and I saw him live (5th row center ! I had dreadlocks!) have a glass of wine at an inappropriate hour and have a dance party with the children to songs a like Cherry Cherry, Walk on Water and I Got The Feeling.

It doesn't make it easier to forget. It makes it easier to remember.

She got tipsy once a year from a single wine cooler but I would like to think she would forgive me for it.

Monday, February 11, 2019

The weekend, goose eggs, ready to tap

This weekend, Friday evening maybe, I mounted a small weather vane on one of the chicken coops while it was raining.  It was something i found in my grandparents' house before it was auctioned.  Not something that was original to the farmhouse but something newer my Grandpa probably picked up at a yard sale.  Part of the E is broken off but it still looks nice.

My nephew celebrated his birthday with a sweet party at a movie theater.  The oldest ran around with a balloon and watched about 20 minutes of the movie before announcing 'I'm done with this activity".  We had driven over an hour to get there so, after stopping at and leaving Chick-fil-A in disgrace, on the way home we stopped at an indoor rec center by us so he could get his wiggles out after being cooped up in the car.

The youngest rode in a carrier and we watched all of  the activities while the oldest ran around the indoor play area with my husband.  The little one and I played some arcade games and turned all of our tickets in for a couple of miniature slinkies that probably cost us $12 in quarters.  It was a good time though.

A miracle occurred; both kiddos cooperated with making Valentine's cards for the grandparents.

We had really excellent fish tacos, here are the leftovers pictured.  Aldi's has a big Asian cooking section at the moment and I found some fun things to try. Tilapia was fried in coconut panko crumbs.  Orange/ginger dipping sauce, grilled tomato and an Asian salad completed things. 

This lady has been walking up the chicken ramp and wedging herself into the coop.  It was her preferred place to lay an egg last year so I started searching for goose eggs in the afternoons.

They're huge. Chicken eggs for scale.

Success! We've gotten 3 eggs over 4 days so I suspect both ladies are laying.  It's funny that the goose eggs are arriving the same week as they did last year.  For now we're just making pasta and cooking with them but the goal is to fire up the incubator.  Except that when I crack them open they don't appear to be fertilized yet.*

Poor guy is trying but he's young and doesn't seemed to have figured out how to *ahem* get the job done.  Hopefully practice will be its own reward here. It would be really fun to have goslings.

This is like 10% of our book collection. 

And this happened.  We've been without a television for about 8 years.  A funny thing happens when you tell people that you don't have T.V.... for some reason people keep finding excuses to give you their old ones.  Out of pity?  I don't know.  This is the third T.V. we've been "gifted" during our time without.  It's a big loud eyesore, and I'd rather throw myself out a window than sit through an entire program of just about anything but it is a huge improvement over watching PBS on my phone.  "Look!" my husband joked "now we're just like the rest of America!"  That noise you hear is me weeping a little.

On the bright side, and this is a big one, it forced us to take every single book off of those shelves and reorganize them.  I spent Friday night happily alphabetizing them all by author and re-shelving them.  

The little field guides got moved onto the bottom, kid-accessible shelf.  I found a bunch of book marks that had been tucked in between volumes and have started reading again.

The sap jugs are all ready to go, tomorrow after preschool drop off I'm going to pick up a drill bit and get moving on this project as long as it's not pouring rain.  One of our dear friends alerted me to a syrup making workshop that was held locally over the weekend; I couldn't make it due to the party but called and the educator there was kind enough to answer my questions.  It is early but some people are tapping now, the taps can be left in for weeks apparently.  I guess, like most things, the time to do it is when you have the time. 

*it occurred to me this morning to explain this because it potentially sounded gross.  When you crack any egg, you should notice a tiny white circle in the yolk.  That's the germinal disc that has the potential to become a chick.  That little circle looks like a bulls-eye or doughnut when the egg's been fertilized..  That's all.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Winter walk, a goose video, crazy week

We've had really nice weather this week and on Sunday my husband and I had the chance to take a long walk All! By! Ourselves! We strolled around town, down side alleys, looked at the architecture of the old houses, walked around the park.  We walked 4 miles total. I've been using the app Map My Walk on my phone to track distance for me.

The river was still thawing that day.  I've recently read that you can tap sycamore trees and the syrup has a butterscotch hint to it.  We saw plenty of those trees on our walk and they sure are beautiful.

Here are the kids on the porch, also thawing out in the sunshine.  The oldest is holding his emergency whistle (outside us only, please!) He's been a total three-year old lately, as in complaining "BUT Mooooom!" to everything which is sometimes hilarious.  When he saw the boxes on the porch he walked over, stared and whined "BUT Moooooom! This was NOT the chicken coop I was expecting! THIS IS WOOD!"  Hahahaha.  The other day he and I had this conversation: ME:" You really are acting three lately.  How much longer do you plan on doing this?" HIM: "Hmmmm... 6 more months".  Oh, these two crack me up.

The week has gone a bit sideways honestly for a bunch of reasons.  The new coop is still sitting in the box, supplies have been gathered but no trees tapped, no garlic planted.  Plus the geese managed to destroy the base of the rain barrel (by mucking about under the concrete base till it fell over in the thaw) so that needs fixed.  

Here's a video of geese behaving badly.  I'm just grateful when the water barrel and concrete blocks fell they didn't squash anyone.

We've had a lot of family time but not much productivity.  

We made a concrete stepping stone owl.

We went out to lunch with Papa. One of the kids accidentally called the police on Papa's phone.

To the thrift store where they each picked out a toy.

And I picked out this little wooden chicken that is now sitting on the back of the wooden steer (also thrift store) in the kitchen.

Today is the nicest day of the week and our afternoon is actually free. Maybe, just maybe something can get done. Maybe when the oldest is picked up from preschool I'll run up the road, pick up straw and muck the coops.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Saturday thaw

We had a lovely day today, the cold has finally broken.  The kids and I took the Honda to the car wash to spray off the salt and then we all spent some time in the yard.  I had the baby in the carrier.  The oldest got out his snow shovel and randomly shoveled paths and holes in the yard.  It was a much needed break from being cooped up in the house.

My gander.  I love when the geese stretch their wings like this.  They look so regal.  Of course, he'll probably try to beat the hell out of me with that 4 foot wingspan come breeding season.  Oh well.  We pick up the new coop tomorrow and I'm thinking of some modifications out in the yard to make poultry-tending easier like hooking up an overflow barrel to the rain barrel off the main coop.  maybe i could install a gravity water system out there?  It's worth looking into.  Wow, if each coop had a gravity water system from collected rainwater that would be wonderful.

The temperature is going to be wonderful this week.  I need to clean coops out, fix part of the fence and clear brush away from the back perimeter.

Walking around the side property, red baby hood and family in the distance.. We are thinking of clearing most of this in the spring; leaving plenty of brush and cover around the perimeter for wildlife and nature exploration but allowing some of the smaller trees to grow up, planting some more trees and opening up the old orchard so it can be usable.  The property owners (2 owners back?) actually had horses here but between foreclosures, tax sales and deaths the property grew into a tangled mess by the time we came along.  

Are these tiny squirrel tracks? Foot for scale. When we pick up the coop tomorrow I'm going to use a Christmas gift card to pick up a salt block and start setting up the game camera again.  

We came inside and had some homemade hot cocoa.  My dad found this tablecloth for us at an Amish re-sale shop and we LOVE it.  The color is so beautiful.  

My mom made this stained glass piece.  It's been displayed on a shelf but we hung it in the kitchen window. Some day I'll post about how we bought this house in total ruin and with help restored every flippin' part of it.  Every corner of this house was made better by friends and family.  In some ways it feels like we're still moving in, finding little touches that make it seem like a home.

Dinner tonight was homemade pasta with lemon added to the dough, roasted broccoli and squash along with a pork tenderloin from Aldi (these things are so delicious and cost about $3).

Here's the pasta recipe.  I did not put white beans in it.  I don't know who thought it would be a great idea to put both broccoli and beans in the same recipe.  I can only imagine.

The weather is going to be amazing this week.  I am hoping to walk into town for yoga, take some other walks and get some chores done outside.  The days will be warm and the nights around freezing but I don't know if I should tap the trees now  Is it early?  I have no idea and will call our Cooperative Extension office on Monday hoping they can put me in touch with a local maple syrup person to talk to.