March 30, 2014

Signs of Spring: snow melt and rain

It's hard to keep up with the bird feeders as the very hungry migratory birds come through. Today we were visited by a great many goldfinches.  Mixed with the usual cardinals, it was quite colorful!

Our little waterfall was "raging".  This creek runs right past the cabin and through the middle of our property.  It joins a big creek that runs along the edge of our property.

We found a very clean, very cold puddle in the woods.

We are enjoying any signs of Spring.  We love winter but it was long one (frigid temps and snow began in mid December).  The sugar maple sap has pretty much stopped flowing, so we boiled our final eight gallons this weekend.  More syrup!  What an amazing thing to have done.  It requires a lot of labor (it's healthy!), but not much else.  A few up front costs so far, but there are no additives to the process. As great and complex as maple syrup is, all you have to do is collect sap, boil it, and not get reckless with the trees.

We only tapped three of our approximately sixty maples.  I'd quit my job and do this full time if the season wasn't only two to three weeks per year.

March 26, 2014

More sugaring and a new toy

Another five gallons of sap.

A sugar shack at a local maple sugar farm called Platte Creek Maple Farm.  We went with our neighbors to pay a visit and to learn what we could.  We learned a lot in the hour we spent there.

A new old table saw.  $35 and it works perfectly.  The guy even delivered it!

Other than that we are enjoying watching the snow melt and the temperatures slowly rise.  Though winter doesn't want to let go of us just yet.  We are looking forward to this year's projects, which include building a new front deck, cleaning the exterior logs, thinning the woods for firewood and healthier tree growth, landscaping, and lot of laying/playing around. 

March 18, 2014

Sugaring, week two

What do you do when you are getting the fire going for sap evaporation? Knit!

Two steel fence posts, an old metal chair, two aluminum pans, and it's boiling.

Finn watches it all with less than a cat's curiosity.

We used our camping stove to preheat the sap. Also, to the right is a hydrometer and candy thermometer.  One or the other is critical in the final stages.

The five gallons we boiled on Saturday yielded about a pint of near-perfect syrup. Yum.

For Jamie


March 10, 2014


Begin drilling a 7/16th inch hole at a small angle.  Discover quickly that your drill battery is close to dead.  Wait an hour for it to charge, and resume drilling.
 Clean the hole out and look at it proudly.
Knock the spile into the hole.
Watch it immediately start dripping sap.

I added some plumbing - a 3/4 elbow and some Pex water piping to run the sap into these "borrowed" five gallon water bottles.

 Within an hour we had a quart of sap, enough for a quick experiment.

Maple syrup!

Next steps are to create a boil/evaporation system outside.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.  That's a lot of boiling.  If we did it indoors we would humidify our kitchen with a sticky mess.

We are very excited!

March 5, 2014

Deer Mountain Inn for her birthday

Deer Mountain Inn in Tannersville, NY is a beautiful old inn amidst a few of the most beautiful peaks the Catskills.  We went for the first time for her birthday and had a great time.  Very good food and a perfect setting.  We didn't take many pictures, but the inn has more at their website.

A study in light at our table.  The blue is the dusky sky outside and the red is wine. The rest is just miracle.

Hugging back at the cabin.  He pushes his body and face hard against yours, and you squeeze him.

Smokehouse of the Catskills

Not for vegetarians. Although they do have sauerkraut.