Friday, March 30, 2012

ok i'm not

ignoring all your blogs or mine. I haven't even been sick nor my kiddos. For that I'm thankful. Haven't had the flu all winter, by the grace of God for sure. So thankful for a healthy winter. My computer broke and we had to get a new one. So now we are back online and now I can catch up on all my blog reading and get ya'll caught up on what's going on here. I'll do that tomorrow, I'm too tired to read and comment right now. Just though you would want to know. So now you know!
Good night all!

Friday, March 23, 2012


The days are flying by and becoming a blurr. The days and evenings there are things going on, and it's been hard to sit down and read blogs I love to read and to blog myself!
All our sap stuff is taken down, washed, dried, and put away until next year. We didn't get much at all, which is a bummer, but we did have some to sell to some of our customers. So that was good.
I was able to finally go out with one of my bffs last night, who just so happens to be one of my sisters. I needed some new jeans and she wanted to go out and get some clothes too. We had a blast. Shopping with someone is so much more fun then going alone!
This week has been in the high 70's and even 80's!! Crazy weather for Maine, this time of year. Then today it's only in the 50's and very windy. We went from shorts and tank tops, not to mention flip flops!! Oh how I love flip flops! To jeans, my cowgirl boots, and a sweater. I do love all the wind and sun we have though, it's free solar power to dry my clothes on the line super fast!
I'll show you how windy it is. It blew some of the clothes on the ground. Look how pretty the sky is. I love that color!! The grass is starting to green up too!!

 Everyone love to see pictures of manure. OK, maybe not everyone. But this is one of our gardens with manure on it. Been composting and needs to be tilled into the ground. Hopefully this garden will produce better then it did last year. The soil is just not as good as out other one.

 I love earth science with the kiddos! We planted some tomatoes, cantaloupe, and peppers. They are learning the process of life, life skills, not to mention where and how their food is grown. I love to watch the seeds turn into the plants and produce fruit, or veggies! Hoping to get some watermelon too. My baby loves that stuff!! Here's hoping to a bountiful harvest this fall too!

And who doesn't need a little flower power in their lives? I love flowers and would love to someday have flower gardens around the house. But and that is a huge but the sheep need to be locked up before that will happen, again! Ah lesson learned. They like to eat flowers. My boy planted some too, but in the picture above. His plant pot flew away! We'll have to get him another one! Don't ask me what kind of flowers the kiddos planted. I have no idea. They had seeds and dirt, and they were happy to just go at it and plant!

I can't wait to get our gardens planted, but we don't plant until the end of May here. We still have some work to be done before we plant. Still too cold.

We have some red clover seeds to plant in the cow pasture this year. They will love that, if it can grow. I don't know if we'll get it done today due to all the wind. Don't want it flying away! But I'll get pics and post when we do!
Have a great day all!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

faq's-maple syrup part 2

Now for the good stuff! If you missed yesterday and have questions about the sap end of it, scroll on down and read the post I did yesterday.

How does sap become maple syrup? It boils down for hours to get the water content out of it and leave the sugar content. In that process it turns brown. We boil the sap in the saperator until it reaches the temperature of  about 216 degrees. At that point there is about 2.5 gallons of maple syrup in the finishing off pan. We draw it off and as we draw it off we add sap from the boiling pan into the finishing off pan and when the temperature drops we know to stop the flow and bring the pan into the house. From there we check to see if we are floating any bricks. Bricks? Yes. We use a tall stainless steel test cup and a hydrometer and when the syrup is at 216 degrees and the right consistency it will float 60 bricks. That is when it's ready. If it's not floating 60 bricks I continue to boil it down until it is at the 60. When it is all done and ready to be bottled... I make sure the bottles are washed, the lids are hot and the screw covers are ready. As well as the "sock" to strain it through to keep any more tree dirt out of the finished product and make it look nice! My husband comes in to hold the sock and I dump in the maple syrup. Once strained it's bottled and covered to seal. Last year I had a video I put up of some of the process of sugaring. Not this year.

Are there any other tools you can use? Yes. It is called a refractomerter. Sounds painful I think. You take some of your syrup and put a little drop on the end slide and look up to the light. It will tell you the sugar density of your syrup. Kinda fun. We have used it before.

Are there different colors of maple syrup? Yup. For Maine it's graded from Fancy Grade A Light Amber, Grade A Medium Amber, Grade A Dark Amber, and Grade B in color. You can buy a kit every season and grade it. We never have. In the early part of the season it's lightest, then as the season goes on it gets darker.

Does it taste different due to the color? Yes. Each one has a slightly different flavor.

How do you bottle it? We usually use mason jars. But we have used the plastic jugs in quart size before.

Does the size of the bottle change the color? Yes. The thicker the glass the darker it looks. That's why lots of producers use the fancy bottles to show the beautiful color.

Does the type of year you have effect the price? Yes. Some producers go up. Most times it's around $50-$60 a gallon.

Do you sell it? Yes.

That is all I can think of for now.

As you can see there is a lot of work to be done from start to finish. This has been a really bad year like I said yesterday. Our taps are being pulled this afternoon and everything washed and put to bed for the year. If you have any questions feel free to ask or email me at
I will do my best to answer any and all questions you have.
Have a great day all!

Monday, March 19, 2012

faq's-maple sap part 1

 I get asked about maple syrup/sap. I figured I would answer a few questions here about the sap end of it, then do a maple syrup one tomorrow. Just to leave you in suspense!

How many gallons of sap to maple syrup? It's a 40-1 ratio.

How much maple syrup do you get a year? Well first it depends on how many taps we put out. This year we put out 50. So we should get about 12.5 gallons of maple syrup. And the other huge factor is the weather.

So what about the weather? It needs to freeze at night, below 32, and be above freezing during the day. 40 is nice.

How long does the season last? Well usually about 4 weeks or so. Some start in early- mid Feb and go until sometime in March.

How do you know when the trees are done? Well, the sap can do a few things. It can be cloudy looking. Or the sap turns a pee colored yellow.  Oh gross I know! But it's true.

How do you clean the sap? Believe it or not the sap can have tree dirt in it, as well as twigs and bugs. So we run it through a filter before it goes into the saperator. Then once it is all done and ready to be put into jars we run it through a sock type of filter.  That way there is little to none of the tree dirt/sediment in the bottom of the jars.

How do you know if the sap you have has spoiled? It's feels slimy, and looks kinda like soap, gets bubbly.  Really. Oh and it can stink too.

What about this year? It really was a bad year all around. We had on open winter (not a lot of snow). And the temperature was just not right. It would be really cold during the night, and then the day it wouldn't warm up enough. Or it would be too warm.

How long does it take to boil it down? A long time! haha. We have a commercial saperator that will boil about 10 gallons an hour. So that is pretty sweet! Our homemade one we used the first years would do about 5. So we've doubled our production!

How long have you been doing this? About 8 years. We have really come a long way in our production and quality of maple syrup we make now. We are pleased with everything we have learned over the years and thankful.

Does the whole family pile in the car and drive up and down the road everyday it runs, lug pails to and fro, then drive back home and empty it all out into big barrels to boil down? Why yes we do. It a family affair ya know!

That is all the questions I can think of for the sap end of it. Let me know if you have any and I'll be glad to answer. I'll post one about the maple syrup part tomorrow time provided!
Have a great night all!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

what's cooking in my kitchen

Top o' thee afternoon to ye! (said with my very bad Irish accent)!!
In honor of it being St. Patrick's Day I thought I would share my favorite recipe with you for this day. Although it is very good any time of year! It's called St. Patrick's Day Delight! Oh ya!!

Here tis

 Finished delight. So simple and easy to make, and not to mention yummy!

 The crust is flour, and butter.

 Ifin ya like nuts throw some in that are all chopped. It I put them in I would have a revolt on my hands. No one likes nuts in their food around here. With the exception of me who likes them only in my Maple Pecan Scones. Ahhh heavenly!!
Anyways on with the delight. Mix it until it's crumbly. You can melt the butter if yer so inclined. 
 Press it into the 9x13 pan and bake 350 for 15 minutes. It's like a shortbread cookie crust.
 Grab a kiddo that looks like they need something to do and have them make the pudding.
 She sure is cute.Look at her go whisking that pudding. Yup it's pistachio. That's why it's called St. Patrick's Day Delight!
 The layer that goes on the crust is powdered sugar, cool whip, and cream cheese. Beat the snot outta it in your mixer. Oh how I LOVE my kitchen aide. I shall cry when it dies. No really I will. I won't be able to cook anything.

 Smear it all over the crust.
Grab the hardened pudding outta the fridge and smear that on top of the cream cheese stuff.

Then because I totally spaced it at the store when I went to town and forgot the cool whip I had to punt. I had some of that canned stuff. I know I know, I never have that stuff in my house, but I had to punt right. Anyways I used that instead on the top. But normally I use the cool whip on top and in the cream cheese mixture. Then and don't be like me, and eat it for lunch, and feed it to the starving children!! They will think you are the coolest mom ever! Life is short eat dessert first!!
Have a great day all!
Oh here is the recipe if yer so inclined to copy it!

2 C flour
1/2 C walnuts
2 Sticks butter melted.
Mix together and bake 350 for 15 min.

Second layer
1 8oz Cream Cheese
1 C powdered sugar
1 C Cool Whip
Beat well. Spread on cooled crust

Third Layer
2 3.4 oz box Pistachio pudding (can use any kind really)
2 1/2 C milk.
Beat. Put in fridge to harden

Use the extra Cool Whip to spread on top. Keep in the fridge.

Friday, March 16, 2012

good quote

"Endure the present, and watch for better things." 

"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough."
Mae West

"We used to be a nation of farmers, but now it's less then two percent of the population in the United States. So a lot of us don't know a lot about what it takes to grow food."
Judith Redmond

Thursday, March 15, 2012

time change

Good grief this time change has done something to my brain. I mean really it's kicked my butt. Normally it does anyways. I love the spring ahead time change. I love that it's now not dark until around 7! Ahhhh, that is so nice!! I don't even mind loosing that hour of sleep. I usually take a nap on that Sunday after noon after church to make up for it!! ;-0!! This week has been crazy. I didn't get that nap on Sunday. Something happened on Monday, but I don't remember what. Tuesday DaLaney had a sewing lesson in the afternoon. My SIL, a friend, and I  had a class Tuesday night. We had school this week I'm sure! Wednesday came. It was cold and ended up snowing. I collected sap while Matthew was boiling it down. It didn't run and we didn't get much. I hope it ran today. We haven't been eating supper until 6-6:30. Last night we didn't even sit down until 6:45. Matthew and I looked at each other in disbelief. Where did the day go? The days have been flying by in a blurrrrrr. On Sunday morning when Matthew went out to milk he woke up Maggie. She was still sleeping! She was probably wondering why he was out so early! Kinda funny. We had Maggie AI'd the other day, but she bled out this afternoon. That stinks. No calf for the year 2012. This morning I went to town. Delivered some eggs to the store, did some grocery shopping, then had a few things I needed to get for myself. Boy what a treat I got out of the house with no kiddos! Let me tell you about that trip to town. I had to get gas. Well I had cash so I had to prepay. No biggie. I go pay, then once back out by the car I get in and put my seat belt on and start  the car, pop it in drive. Oops. I forgot to put the gas IN the car. So I get out and pump it. I drive to the store. I get my cell, purse and get out. I hit the lock button on the door and slam it. Darn it all! I locked the keys IN the car! I fumbled through my purse to find the spare key. Not there. Great. I laughed at myself at this point. I found a key and managed to get the door unlocked. Although it didn't want to. I grab the keys, re-lock the door and go shopping. Talk about your "blonde" moments! haha   Managed to drop a few things while I was shopping too. Thankfully nothing broke. I've dropped and broken bottles of juice, hate when I do that. I always feel bad watching the person cleaning up my mess. I feel like I should be doing it. Back in the car I gulped down a muffin and a flavored water. Had them both gone before I left the parking lot. I was hungry. I didn't eat before I left home. I like the blueberry muffins at the store. They have baked on sugar crystals on top! Yummy! Probably filled with bad for you stuff, but once in a while it's OK. Once all the shopping was done I get home. Breath. All the stuff unloaded, and I have yet to finish taking care of it. Not that I got tons of food, I've been busy. Done some laundry, and made 3 pounds of mozzarella cheese to sell. Then I remember my boy has Cub Scouts. Get him all ready and Matthew gets him and takes him there. He calls me and says "it's Thursday." "OHHHHHH! Whoops, guess he missed it by a day." Scouts is on Wednesday. Now he's at the mill helping daddy work for the rest of the day!
Oh well. This week is almost over! Thankfully! Maybe next week will be better. Who knows what's in store for me tomorrow!~
Have a great afternoon all! I gotta finish taking care of my groceries, and make supper!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

days fly by

On a farm you can go from one thing to the next in a matter of hours or sometimes days. Depending on the season, then things run together in a big blurrrrrr. One person doing one thing while another is doing something else, the changing gears and doing something entirely different. Farmers you get it ;-) Or if you happen to have a kiddo or two it happens just as fast! Well here are a few snap shots of our busy time the past few days. Two weeks ago a friend of mine asked me the other day to get together for coffee some evening. I still haven't been able to go due to the business of life right now. Literally things have been going on every evening. Either me or Matthew or both of us are out. I told her that from here on out life just is going to get busier for me. Just a season in life I guess.

 Here is Matthew spreading manure on the pasture part of our field!

 Here is Dandie a few hours after being dehorned. Yes we had them burned off. She had some medication to numb the area and was fine. She was up eating and running around the pasture about 10-15 minutes after. They are looking better now, and she's fine. She couldn't resist having her picture taken when she saw me out there snapping pictures of Matthew on the tractor. She posed for her photo op!

Fired up the ol "saperator"!! Can't really see the steam coming out of the steam vent due to the grayness of the sky. The sun is out now, sorta.

 In the sap house and the steam is going and the boiling is happening! Now that the pipe goes straight up it seems to be holding the boil much better!

This is Maggie last summer, but this morning we had the AI Tech come out. She is "bred" to Denali. Now hopefully she will settle. We'll find out soon enough.

Now there is a busy few days. Obviously there were other things going on during the days, I don't need to go on about all that, but you get the idea! Sap is boiling right now as I type this up. Now if it would continue to run and the weather would cooperate that would be a blessing to our farm!
Have a great day!

Friday, March 9, 2012

{this moment}

Actually I'm gonna break the rule of this moment. I do that from time to time. I live on the wild side! haha
I had to put these pics of my kiddos up and smile. They love to go fishing, and ask, ok they ask a lot, to go fishing. Well yesterday they got out their fishing poles and went "fishing" in the puddle of water outside the sap house. Such wonderful imaginations they have. I'm so happy they do. My baby decided to sit and fish with a stick. She got her fishing pole out later. She even showed me a "fish" she caught! Today the puddle is gone with all the wind and surprisingly rain we got last night. As well as any snow we had. Gone.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

tappin tree

Finally! We put out our taps this morning. 50 in all. Not as many as last year, but with the winter being an open one we decided not to. Open meaning lack of snow. I'm hopeful we have a good run, even if it's only two weeks. We did put them out a little later this year due to life being what it is this year. Usually have a good run in March though! So I'm praying we have a good run and we are literally running to keep up with the sap! It was running really well this morning, so that was encouraging! Here are a few note worthy pics! And a video! I just love that noise!!

 This is a new tap this year. I just liked the way it looks going down a rather steep slope. I thought it would make a nice picture.
Takes time and patience to get this photo! I like the drip on the end! I was also determined to get this picture!
My girl tapping her favorite tree

My baby tapping her favorite tree. She needed a little help from Daddy.

Down low enough for her to get it off the hook.

My boy likes to drink the sap as it comes out. Actually they all do. This is his tree.
My girl tapping her tree. They all have their own "special" tree they like to tap.
Have a great day~

Friday, March 2, 2012

winter stuff

We got hit with a snow storm all day yesterday. Got about a foot of snow.  Haven't had much of any snow this winter. Last year it seemed like every other day we were cleaning up snow, lots of snow. It's been nice this year to have a break from all that white stuff. So this morning we had to dig ourselves out! I milked while My Man plowed. I decided not to lug water out until there was a path for me to walk in! The kiddos were excited to have enough snow to make some tall snowbanks to make snow forts and slide down. I see a visit to my parents soon to get some sledding and snow boarding done. They have an awesome hill! Although it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow. Gonna make a mess. So we shall see.
This has been a very busy week for us. Sunday we went to my in laws, Monday we went to my BIL and SIL for supper. Matthew helped with the addition they are putting on their house while I got to visit! Tuesday was my in laws anniversary and FIL birthday, had a family party, Wednesday was the day that wouldn't end for me. Started around 7 am, although my body thinks it's time for the time change and my eyes popped open around 6ish. I didn't get up, and I didn't sleep either. Hate when that happens. Then I did all the chores while my husband went to get hay. We can't store all of it here because we don't have a place to keep it. He wanted to get extra with the storms there were supposed to come (and did). One of the kiddos had a Dr's appointment, did some more shopping, got home, cleaned up the mess from the morning I didn't have time to do before I left. The girls were a huge help with the house work. They helped me the rest of the afternoon cleaning. My boy was off working with Daddy for the day. Started supper, had to stop, go pick up my boy at Cub Scouts, back at home, finished supper, went and did chores because Matthew wasn't going to be home in time, then had company over for supper. Fell into bed around 10:30 that night. Days like that don't happen very often:-) Thursday it snowed all day. The wind was terrible, and I wished the animals would feed, water and milk themselves. But since they don't we did the work together! I was glad for an early night too. We were home in the evening together and we had a game night of it. All warm and toasty in the house while the snow and wind whirled around outside. I have no idea what tonight will bring! But I did just realize I forgot to put supper in the slow cooker and will not be done even if I did try! Drat! Guess I better go and think of something else to eat tonight!!
A few pics of this morning! Never mind the date on there. Just noticed it's wrong, guess I should change that!

Me milking.

My Man on the tractor! Love watching him! 

My boy waiting for the snow bank to get bigger!!
Happy Friday all!