April 28, 2014
April 25, 2014
This sweet little guy came to us from the same farm as Shady Grove and Turnip. When I went to pick them up a few weeks back, I met this little one who we have since named Noble. That day, he was sitting in a small cardboard box on their kitchen floor. They explained that his mother had died and he was very weak and couldn't stand. They picked him up and he just sort of slunk back down into the box. They weren't sure if he was going to live. I saw right away that he was blind in at least one eye.
I didn't take him home with me that day, but a week later the farm wife called me and asked that I please consider taking him. Her husband needed to start his many weeks of chemotherapy in a facility nearly 2 hours away and they just didn't know what to do. She said he could stand now, and a vet had taken a look at him and thought he would make it.
They brought him to our place the next day. He is pure love. Everyone who meets him is completely taken with him. After being with us for a week and a half, he can stand up if he works at it, and stay standing! He can walk around for longer and longer periods and has learned how to navigate around our living space, stopping at the edges of the carpets so he doesn't slip and he has stopped walking into things. A remarkable change! When he first arrived, he mostly slept but now he gets up many times throughout the day to walk around, and he knows my voice and will come to me if I call to him. He is definitely blind in one eye, and the other eye is not working at full capacity, but when I took him outside and put him on the earth he knew just what to do, and happily snuffed along searching for the yummiest grass and weeds to eat (:
We had a great first try at producing our own maple syrup!
Honestly, Jason did it all. It was a lot of work, and for this I am so so grateful (: It is, by far the yummiest maple syrup I have tried in my whole life.
In late March, Jason drilled holes in our largest maples. Of course, he had an eager 4 year old helper!
Next, he hammered in the spiles. Jason made this one by hollowing out a sumac branch.
For this job, he had a happy 2 year old helper (:
I think the sumac spiles are a work of art in themselves.
We were also gifted a large bunch of wooden handmade spiles off of freecycle. An older gentleman had made them all himself, and when he upgraded he passed them along to a friend. That friend didn't need them and was more than happy to help us on our crusade. They worked beautifully! A few seconds after they were in, the sap began to drip..
So we hung the buckets.
Here is a nice full bucket of maple sap! We carried MANY of these out of the maple grove, down the hill, across the road, and up our driveway.
Jason used the fractional freezing method when breaking down the sap. It saved him a ton of boiling time. Basically, you freeze the sap and let it melt a bit. The sap melts first and separates from the water and impurities. We sometimes let it melt a couple times, and checked the ice for sweetness. If it tasted like ice, we knew we had gotten all the sugar out. Then Jason poured the magical sugary tree water into his rocket stove and boiled it until it was done! He set up a nice little space outside off of our front porch and created a temporary awning from plastic sheeting to protect the stove from rain. The boys loved hanging out with him while he was boiling the sap. He brought out the papasan chair and warm blankets, books to read and drawing materials (: It was chilly most days so they wore their winter gear while "helping" Jason and came inside with rosy noses!
It took many hours and many days spent feeding wood into that rocket stove, and in the end we ended up with three gallons of syrup! I think that will last us a good while (:
April 13, 2014
April always seems to be something of a whirlwind. We wait soooo long for spring to arrive, and then when it does we can barely catch our breath; There is so much going on, such activity! But oh my goodness, when I take a moment to stand quietly in the pasture, I nearly burst with happiness at the sights and smells of spring! Joy! The chickens are delighted to be roaming about, as are the goat and sheep. The pasture is flooded due to the immense amount of melted snow running down the hillside and the boys have been rowing their boat around it for days. The water is only a foot or so deep so it's perfect for them and Jude has been perfecting his paddling. Three feral ducks have taken up residence in our temporary pond, swimming around while the chickens wade at the edge (:
Our walks on the woods have been frequent, and each day brings with it less snow. It has been raining today and will tomorrow as well, so hopefully that will be the end of the white stuff! Ahhhh, spring!
The lambs are getting along beautifully in our home and family (: They are beautiful, loving creatures and I am so grateful that they have come to live with us! They came to us from a kind and lovely woman who 'rescued' our naughty Matilda-dog from running around on the road (she jumped over the fencing and ran away when Jason turned his back for a moment). She got Matilda into her car and drove her to our place, it being the closest farm, and she was so delighted by our animals and approach to livestock-raising that she returned a couple days later asking me if I would please consider taking the two bottle lambs her Aunt and Uncle had at their farm. Jason was in the forest cutting wood so I couldn't converse with him; We went straightaway to see the lambs and of course I took them home a half an hour later (-; As it turns out, they are part Leicester, a breed I have been interested in, so on that particular day the universe was truly bringing a beautiful and magical blessing to my life (: Jason is anticipating their soon-to-be life outside with the other sheep by building fencing to keep them away from the gardens. He built a wattle-style barrier at the bottom of the split-rail fence and it looks mighty pretty. I hope to have a flower garden bursting with hundreds of gorgeous heirloom blooms that no goat or sheep can get at! We have started tons of plants inside, in egg shells, both vegetables and flowers. The are happily starting their lives cozy in our pantry and are doing quite well.
Yes, spring. All good. I am happy!