Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Big rural update: Trees tapped, groundhog cookies, seeds, citrus and so on

It's been a full week.  I've been wanting to post many times but every night am either just exhausted or end up falling asleep with the littlest one at 9:30.  We've been busy and also had some family news that is worrying but not something I really want to look straight on just yet.  So, here is what's been going on this week.

The oldest and I tapped 3 trees for sap.  I drilled the holes at preschooler level and he hammered the spiles in.  He did hit himself in the head with the mallet the first time but it went smoothly after that. 

Cleaning out the drilled holes with a twig.

And drawing pictures on the jugs for good luck.  We've pulled about 10 gallons of sap so far from 6 taps..  I gave up scrambling for containers for it all and just washed out a huge Rubbermaid tote.  It's in the coldest spot in the yard; on the bare ground and up against the north side of the garage.  We will probably build a fire and try to condense some of the sap this weekend.  We won't finish it into syrup but it will make space for another week of sap to be collected. 

What a crappy picture.  The kids and I made gingersnaps to celebrate Groundhog's Day.  We actually went to Punxsutawney one year long ago to join in the festivities; my husband, my sister, her husband and some friends.  It was a blast.  When we went the whole finale happened when the groundhog, who had arrived at Gobbler's Knob in a Cadillac with an entourage of suited handlers, popped out of a stump at daybreak to announce "Sorry, more winter!"  Then we all went to drink a special edition Groundhog Brew beer at 9 am and eat pancakes at the firehouse.  This year he announced an early Spring.  Which isn't shocking as we have not had any real winter here this year.  But it was really fun to go and I'd like to go again.  For anyone who is interested; Punxsutawney Phil is not a single groundhog.  The role is played by a whole family of groundhogs who live in a wonderful enclosure at the little town library.  

My in-laws have spent the last month visiting friends and family in the South and like any good Northerners they brought lots of citrus fruit back with them.  We were given about 10 lbs.  There is almost a gallon of orange and grapefruit juice in the freezer, plus fresh eating.  When I was little we used to go see my great-grandmother in Alabama each winter and would bring back things to share too; boiled peanuts and pomegranates.

The oldest has been into origami and making paper airplanes, none of which we are allowed to throw out (while he's awake anyway).  We've used about a forest of paper in the last week.

This weekend my sister brought her kids for a visit and we took them all to a Fun Center nearby.  The kids loved it.  

I finally went nuclear on the rats out in the poultry yard.  It stinks to go that way but we really had no choice.  I've shoveled all of the runs flat and hope that there won't be any new holes tomorrow morning.  It's mud season here.  The yard is green and the chickens and geese get to free range around the property during the day.  This is just the area directly around the coop but it's gross.

I made myself a bracelet this week which I've been wearing as a mediation aid at night and when I wake up in the middle of the night.  I either count my blessings with each bead or use it verbalize goals of patience and kindness.  Some women in my book club are talking about going on a retreat to a convent this summer and I am going to lobby hard to join them. Two days of silence, meditation, yoga and inward focus would do me good.  

A friend who I haven't seen in a few years saw this at an auction and thought of me.  I was so pleased to get this gift.  He and I used to go to auctions a bunch when we worked together and we still meet once a year to catch up at the big local Amish benefit.  We used to work together at a long term nursing facility and in spite of the age difference bonded over the stress of the job and a mutual interest in backyard  farming.

The kids and I moved the rhubarb plants and the seed order came today.  It's small but will round out what what we already have.  We loved alpine strawberries when we had them and are looking forward to trying them again.  I need to figure out how to get excited about the poultry and garden again.  Last year was a real shit show what with the deer mowing everything flat three times in a row and a coyote and fox killing over 30 birds.  We still need to order turkeys and quail eggs for hatching.

Well, that's it.  Sorry for the crappy photos and poor spelling.  It's bedtime soon for everyone.  Maybe this week I'll finally take the Christmas decorations off the front porch.  Maybe not.


  1. Atrue mixed family week, you sound tired, but with 2 little men runing about, I bet you are. the retreat sounds perfect, hope you can wiggle a place.