March – Precious Drops of Liquid Gold

We’ve tapped our two maple trees – but I think we started too late.  Nevertheless, we got four gallons of sap.  It looks like pure water and taste like… water.  I expected at least a hint of sweetness or a tint of color.

We set up the outdoor burner, connected the propane tank and got out the turkey roasting pan.  I poured two gallons in and started boiling, adding more sap as evaporation would allow.  Six hours later, after sitting outside in the cold on the patio, I had two quart jars of lemonade looking liquid.

The next night I emptied those two quarts into a pot on the stove in the kitchen.  I figured by then most of the evaporation had already happened, and cooking it down further wouldn’t make my kitchen “that” sticky.  I boiled and simmered and boiled and simmered and kept measuring the temperature.  As more evaporated, I moved it to a smaller pan, and then to an even smaller pan.  And I kept boiling and simmering and taking it’s temperature.  Finally, after about three more hours of undivided attention – lest I burn the whole batch, I had SYRUP!  Yes, I tested it with the hygrometer and did some fancy math calculations that involve a chart and testing the temperature vs. the Baume scale and the Brix scale – but it was officially at the syrup stage!

I very carefully poured it into ONE of the 8 oz syrup jars (I bought a case of twelve, just to be optimistic) — and it filled it about two-thirds of the way.  Yes, four gallons of sap gave us about two-thirds of a cup of syrup.  But it’s really AWESOME syrup.   It’s thick and rich and tastes like maple syrup!  And the kitchen smells like a Waffle House.  I can’t wait to make some waffles to go with it!

Cooking down four gallons of sap.
Yes, there is snow on the ground – but it’s time to boil the sap.
All we got was two quarts of boiled down sap.
So we cooked it some more.
And the put it in a little tiny pan and cooked it some more.
Until we got about two-thirds of a cup of REAL syrup. The phone is to give you a perspective — this is not a very big jar — and it’s only half full — but boy will it taste good on our waffles!

November – A Thankful Thanksgiving

I may be a week late with this — but this year was a special Thanksgiving.  We welcomed a new granddaughter just two weeks earlier!  She weighed in at 8 pounds, 15 ounces — our turkey this year was 28 pounds.  That means the turkey was 3 times BIGGER than the baby!  We are certainly thankful for her healthy arrival and that we were able to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends around our table.  In fact, we were having so much fun – that we forgot to take a picture of the turkey — but we got one of our new “little turkey” sleeping off her Thanksgiving dinner.  She fit into the roasting pan — with room to spare.

We’re also thankful for the purposeful life we are able to live on this little farm.  There are times when we work too hard, get poison ivy, pamper bruises and blisters — but at the end of the day – we love what we are doing.  And we love just that little bit of self-sufficiency that this place offers us.

Once we packed away all those turkey leftovers, we settled in on Saturday night with a different dinner – one entirely sourced from our farm.  Our neighbor bow-hunts on our property and shares some of the venison with us.  Our salsify was finally ready for harvest after a hard frost, and the root cellar still has a BIG supply of squash.  While we always have farm-fresh vegetables and eggs – it was a treat to have a complete farm to fork dinner from our farm.

A fire in the fireplace and the table is set for Thanksgiving
Sleeping off that Thanksgiving dinner — she fits in the roasting pan — little turkey.
Time to dig up some salsify.
Our farm to fork dinner — venison, squash and salsify.