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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Happy Thursday morning to you! The thing about Thursday, is that it is almost Friday! Yippee!
Anyway, lots going on here at Tillaboro Orchard.

1. The sap's runnin'! We tapped a few trees- 4 to be exact, and two days ago we got 5+ gallons of sap. That's really good. So today I am boiling it down into syrup on top of my stove. Not the ideal setting since my walls and windows (every surface, really) are covered with a fine layer maple sugar mist. Ooh- Maple Sugar Mist, that sounds like a nice Bath and Body Works fragrance.
You can see in the picture above that the pan on the left is closer to being syrup than the pan on the right. Sap starts out almost clear, and darkens as the water evaporates through boiling. To deal with the fact that I am purposely evaporating about five gallons of water into my house, Joe set up the dehumidifier right next to the stove. Three benefits of boiling sap in my house- great humidity, my house is warmer than it has been since July, and it smells great!
This is helping the "mist" significantly. Our plan is to build an outdoor fireplace under the overhang of our barn this summer as a summer kitchen and also as a place to boil off sap next sugar season. Right now, I am just waiting for the sap to become syrup- measurable by the temperature. Add seven degrees F to whatever temperature the sap first boiled at- Our sap boiled at 210.5, so we are waiting for it to hit 217.5. At that point, I will strain it through cheese cloth and bottle it up! If you are interested in a nice book about the life, lore and recipes of maple sugaring- here's the book for you-
Sweet Maple: Life, Lore and Recipes from the Sugarbush by James M. Lawrence (Author), Rux Martin (Author), Paul O. Boisvert (Photographer) .
2. We are also growing "chicken's baby eggs" as Brilyn likes to call it. The eggs are from our own chickens. Our hens started laying about a month ago- they sure didn't take much of a break. Which I am thankful for, because eggs are bloody expensive at the store. Here's a pic of the eggs in the incubator. This particular incubator keeps the eggs at the right temperature, the correct humidity, and rolls the eggs completely every three hours. It's pretty easy. We'll candle the eggs tomorrow to see if anything is growing. We'll take a pic if we find anything interesting!

3. Another project we are (well, Joe is) working on is making some honey wine (mead).

As you can see Joe is brewing one gallon of mead on top of my piano, it elevates the bottle to a slighter warmer temperature, and my piano is in the warmest room in the house- the dining room. Our hard cider is coming along nicely too, we poured a glass for your viewing pleasure. Our cider sparkles!

When (if) you get a chance to taste it I am sure you will say-"Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!" like Dom Perignon at the moment he discovered champagne.

4. Where are our children when we are working on all these projects? Well, they are usually underfoot, imitating our every move- but sometimes, when they get bored, we let them watch a movie. This week's favorite is worth sharing with you- The Stranger in the Woods. Very good movie for young kids, and even older kids and adults if you only watch it once. We also watched Fly Away Home this week. I really liked that movie too. The only part I didn't love was that they made migratory bird hunters look like bad guys, when, in fact, migratory bird hunters do more to help support healthy bird populations than any other group. This includes both time and money spent.

Well, I had better wrap it up for the day, I have lots on my to-do list. I am making some friendship bread, so come on over if you want some! Also, every morning I make my coffee and think to myself, well, I better make two cups in case someone stops in. Well, if you never stop, I am going to have to stop making coffee for you. And, I make good coffee. And, I always have real half and half.




Carol said...

Hi Joce, I love real-homemade maple syrup...keep up the good work. Also, it just occured to me to suggest some movies that I think you'd enjoy (from getting to know you in blogland), it's a series of movies based on Janette Oke's book series. It's the Love Comes Softly series, it follows a woman's journey's during pioneer times and is directed by Michael Landon Jr. We own all the but the newest one, my 15 y/o and I love them! Have a great weekend...I wish we lived closer, I would appreciate a good cup of coffee!~Carol

Rebz said...

Hi Carol-
Those movies are great! How many are there? I have only seen three. Well, since I now know that you have good taste in movies, please feel free to recommend some more!

(Kara- you should get them from the library, they are entertaining and uplifting.)


Kara said...

Wish I lived closer too!!! I want some Jocelyn coffee with some of the good stuff;o) I also would like some of that yummy maple syrup!!! Love ya babe...Me

Cookie said...

I love Stranger in the Woods and so do my boys. They also made Lost in the Woods that introduces springtime - it is very entertaining. I have a copy if you would like it. Talk to you soon! - Courtney

Anonymous said...

Joce, you are amazing! My brother-in-law has a maple shack on their property up in the hills near Watkins Glenn. We ran out of their syrup a month or two ago. This morning we used chocolate syrup because I refuse to get the fake stuff at the store when I know maple season is just around the corner. I'd love to try some of your awesome creations:)

Anonymous said...

Joce, we used to make real maple syrup as well when I was kid. I loved the whole process and it was a great bonding experience with my brothers and dad. And nothing beats the taste!! I think you will appreciate the shack outdoors next year though---One of these days when, I am not at school I will have to stop by for a cup of your coffee!!! Can we come in our PJ's???? hahahaha---Heather

Rebz said...

Heck yeah- come in your pajamas, and don't do your hair!

About Me

About Me
I love Jesus, my hubby, my 6 kiddos, my farm, good books and good food.