Wednesday, March 29, 2006

For Sale..Extra Dark Maple Candy..$75 per pound

We have a saying around here. "When it rains, it pours". We have had string of troubles lately. The last week and a half we had the stomach bug, the transformer burning up, Leahs uncle had a stroke, my neighbor (the one with the hogs) was hit by a snowplow and was killed and now my syrup operation is out of commision. I'll admit, one of the things I'm most proud of is my welded SS pan. I treat it with care and always keep a watchfull eye over it. The weather finally broke and the sap was really comming. I took the pan down and set it on the arch, gathered some wood and started a fire. The wind was kind of strange that day and the fire was not drawing real good. I went over to the barn and did up some chores and then stopped back over to the sap house. She was boiling pretty good, not great, but pretty good. I stoked up the fire, set the valve so it would trickle in at the right speed and ran up the hill for some lunch. I was not gone more than 45 minutes to an hour. John, Noah and I went back to check it and to our horror we saw smoke and my pan. In all my years of syurp making I have never burned up a batch. I wanted to cry. My pan, oh my pretty little pan. It was warped and black. I got the twist out of it but I've been 3 days scraping and scrubbing the black crust and still have a lot to do. 200 gallons of sap in storage, the buckets are running over on the trees and I have no way to boil it down! Out of desperation I have started a big pot of it going on a 51,000 btu gas burner while I scrub. With 60 degree days, I'm running out of time. If I don't get it going soon the sap will spoil and I'll have to dump it. After all that work, I'll have to dump it. Anyone have any ideas for getting burned sugar out of a SS pan?

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Hill Top Happenings

Sorry for my lack of posts lately. The first part of the week we were all sick with some stomach bug. We are all better now and getting back into the swing of things. For a few days I was the one man army around here and I'm feeling pooped. Thankfully, my brother helped me with silage feeding both ends of the day but I still had to keep hoppin' to get it all done. Wendsday, when I went to start the afternoon milking the transformer that runs the pulsation for the milking system shorted out and burned itself out. After several hours of troubleshooting and and an emergancy call from the service folks we were back running. I have not got the bill yet, but I'm sure it will be several thousand dollars. The joys of dairy farming. If you think its going bad, just will get worse! We have a meeting with the folks from Organic Valley next week, I think. We are still weighing the pros and cons on certification. The sap business is really poor this year. The first run didn't amount to a hill of beans. I didn't have enough to fire up the evaporator, so I let it sit. We got one whale of a cold spell and it froze up soild! The sap started running a bit yesterday and the tank is thawing out. Hoping to boil the begining of the week, at this rate I'll be lucky to have enough for myself. I've started getting some calls on broilers. I wasn't sure if I was going to bother with them this year, but now I'm thinking I might. Did I mention, I'm Ready For Spring!!!! This morning a woke up to another fresh blanket of snow.

In other news....Gwen and Mark will be moving to NY. They won't be to awfull far away from us and we look forward to them visiting.

Monday, March 13, 2006

New Blog to Watch

Puritan Mama now has a Blog ! I am looking forward to reading about their adventures.

A Break in the Weather...So a break from the Blog

This past week we had temps in the 50's so I suddenly had a burst of energy! Tuesday we tapped some maples, about 25 buckets hanging. I've been busy getting everything together to start boiling. So far the yields are poor. The end of the week we will be back in the 20's so we might get another run or two....I hope. We have been hauling manure out of the heifer barns. Its getting a little soft out there now, so we will get some more out when the ground freezes back up. We have to get the manure out early so it has time to break down. The key to good hay yields out here, is a good dose of manure. This year we are hoping to get the farm more selfsufficient in the hay department. I am happy to report that the garlic lived through the winter. Looks like it all came up. The extended family, My folks and us, are researching the possibility of going certified organic with the dairy. Lots of figurin' and thinkin' and prayin' going on. Dad is willing to think about it, IF we can prove it will all pencil out. The organic grain is very expensive and would be the only really big change in how we farm now. Oh yah, the water is thawed! After almost a month without any up on the hill, it finally thawed under ground. Only problem is a few busted pipes under the house that need fixing. Well, I've got some feeding to do, some cows to milk and an evaporator to get up and runnin', so I've got to hit the trail now.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

This and That

Acres USA is sponcering the Polyface Farm Intensive Discovery Seminars. Click Here for the details.

This looks like a good book.

Gene Logsdon tells us about "What he learned from his Grandpaws."

Farming Magazine has a another good article titled Sabbath Farming in the winter issue. The article is supposed to be online, but the link is not working. Give it try latter, perhaps they will fix it.

Joel Salatin speaks out against VA Poultry Proposal.

My old friend John got to deliver his own baby! Welcome Susannah Wren

In case you missed it,our old freind Heidi, aka Puritan Mama, stopped in the other day. Glad to know she is alive and well! For those who are newcommers here, Heidi was a regular commenter here in the early days. She and her family moved on to a non-electric homestead in Indiana and this is the first we've heard from her since.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Noah's Birthday Cake

I suppose the high society crowd would find this cake a little strange, but I know my agrarian freinds will think its pretty neat. I admit, some of the frosting looks like crap.....but hey, its supposed to :)

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It was my idea and Leah's handywork. Noah loved it, he called it his "Banure Cake".