Thursday, March 26, 2015

Well, I'm still at it! This typical (atypical?) March weather has certainly slowed things down, but this morning, I collected another 20 gallons of sap. I will head back out in about an hour and a half to collect what's there. It has been POURING out all day, but at least the fog has gone away. I had every intention of gathering sap last
  night, but by the time I had gotten some chores out of the way, the sunny, 48 degree weather had suddenly snapped itself into a snow squall!
The 57 gallons of sap collected last week was boiled down into a gallon and a half of syrup. Let's see what this weekend will bring~

Friday, March 20, 2015


Tis true... Spring has officially arrived. Here in these parts, there are still patchings of snow and ice upon the ground, the buds on the trees remain unswollen, the wind is still sharp and icy... but the sun is warm upon the back. Robins and bluebirds are returning to the fields, the maple trees are freely giving their lifeblood sap, the chickadee's wintersong is changing to the shorter and sweeter "dee deee". Owls are hooting close in the evenings, coyotes answer in similar refrain. Mud is taking the place of the snow as the frost oozes out of the ground. The chickens are laying, the roosters, ducks and geese are testier. Soon, the pussywillows will give birth to their fuzzy new catkins, the spring peepers will chirp out from their damp quarters, the geese will cry out daily in their joy on returning home to their northern places. We will look for signs of the first snowdrops and wait for the blossoms to burst out from the forsythia and quince. Yes indeed, spring has sprung!


I wandered lonely as a cloud

that floats on high o'er vales and hills,
when all at once I saw a crowd,
a host of golden daffodils,
beside the lake, beneath the trees,
fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
~William Wordsworth

When Spring Goes By

The winds that on the uplands softly lie,

grow keener where the ice is lingering still
where the first robin on the sheltered hill
pipes blithely to the tune "When Spring goes by".
Here him again, "Spring! Spring!" he seems to cry,
haunting the fall of the flute-throated rill
that keeps a gentle, constant, silver thrill,
while he is restless in his ecstacy.

Ah! The soft budding of the virginal woods,

of the frail fruit trees by the vanishing lakes.
There's the new moon where the clear sunset floods,
a trace of dew upon the rose-leaf sky.
And hark! What rapture the glad robin wakes...
"When Spring goes by... Spring! Spring!
When Spring goes by!"
~Duncan Campbell Scott

March winds and April showers bring forth April flowers

The Spring

Now that the winter's gone, the earth hath lost

her snow-white robes, and now no more the frost
candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
upon the silver lake or crystal stream.
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth
and makes it tender... gives a sacred birth
to the dead swallow; wakes in the hollow tree
the drowsy cuckoo and the humble-bee.
Now do a choir of chirping minstrels bring
in triumph to the world the youthful Spring.
The valleys, hills and woods in rich array
welcome the coming of the long'd- for May.
Now all things smile, only my love doth lour;
nor hath the scalding noonday sun the power
to melt the marble ice, which still doth hold
her heart congealed, and makes her pity cold.
The ox, which lately did for shelter fly
into the stall; doth now securely lie
in open fields; and love no more is made
by the fireside, but in the cooler shade
Amyntas now doth with his Chloris sleep
under a sycamore, and all things keep
time with the season; only she doth carry
June in her eyes; in her heart January
~Thomas Carew


The air is like a butterfly with frail blue wings

The happy earth looks at the sky and sings.
~Joyce Kilmer

It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold... when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.

~Charles Dickens

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

I have a bit of spare time while waiting for the sap to boil, so I've been playing digitally with photographs and such.
I love these words from Ram Dass, stated simply yet the meaning is so profound. My daughter-in-law took this photo of my oldest son walking in the back field with my grandson, and it seemed the perfect fit for this message.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

March 15th, 2015

historic photo

Collected another 20 gallons of sap tonight, even though it had snowed on and off all day here, and the temperature hovered around freezing. I started boiling down sap tonight, as well. Hopefully will end up with close to a gallon of light amber syrup tomorrow. My favorite is this first batch, which resembles honey more than syrup.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sap has begun to flow

Just a brief note (to myself mostly!)
sap started flowing a tiny bit yesterday, and then enough throughout today so that I collected approximately 12 gallons of it tonight.
Today, I began pruning the fruit trees, and heard a small flock of Canadian geese heading homeward.
As I was smashing down a trail with my snowshoes to check the maple trees farthest out in the field, I noticed the ground was COVERED with snow fleas. And, I found a moth inside one of the sap buckets.
Mom and I went to Vermont last week and saw about 40 robins along the roadside near Orwell.
I do believe spring is tiptoeing in...

Monday, March 9, 2015

Don't let the following photographs fool you... there is still plenty of snow covering the ground here. However, today's temperature was well into the forties, and tonight the temperature will only get down into the mid-to-high teens. This seems to be the weather pattern for this week. I was a bit surprised to discover that no sap was running from the maples today, but the snow is definitely shrinking.

The chickens have been laying on and off, depending upon how cold the days and nights have been. They laid over 60 eggs in January, but dropped to less than half that amount in February, as it was so cold for so long. I am again keeping tally for March, so time will tell. I am pleased that it was warm enough to get the chicken coop shoveled out today!

These are photographs from a few years ago, and are reminders of what is to come in about two months. I love these "Spreckle" violets. They came home with me over 30 years ago... a gift from a woman whom I used to garden for. They have self-sown everywhere, and I await their blooming amongst the lilac bush and all the way down our front hill.

Another harbinger of spring is the forsythia, although we are too far north and up the mountain for their blooms to amount to much most years. (They often bear blossoms only as high as the snow that covered them during the winter months.)

Even as a child, Narcissus was one of my most favorite flowers. I do admire daffodils, but the eyed blooms of these lovely posies remain a springtime favorite.

Behold the lowly Dandelion, whose blossoms I look forward to as much as the call of the spring peepers and the first catkins of the pussywillows! I know most folks try everything to rid their lawns of these detested weeds, but I think there is no prettier sight than to see a green field full of bright yellow dandelion faces.

So, for the next few months, I shall dream of the flowers that will peek through once this snow finally melts. Yet realistically, I know that winter is not yet over, as many times we've received early spring storms in mid-March that have dumped 2 to 3 feet of snow on bare ground. Time will tell...

Sunday, March 1, 2015

It's almost sugaring season

For the past week, my inner voice has been telling me to get the sugar maples tapped, and today I listened!
Though the weather is not right for the sap to flow (it's still snowy and cold here, as it seems to be everywhere!) it is wise to get things ready a few weeks beforehand.
Now, I only tap a handful of trees... this is a hobby, not a commercial venture for me! I think I put in two-dozen taps today. I'll walk you through the process...

Gather your equipment: You need sap buckets and lids, a drill with a 7/16" bit, a hammer, a 6" piece of heavy wire, and spiles and hooks.

I just had to include this picture of my mom... she is such a blessing and a help to me!

Start drilling your tap holes. Again, use a 7/16" bit, and drill at a slight upward angle and about 2 1/2" to 3" into the tree.

In this photograph, you can see I wrap a piece of tape 3 inches up the bit to help me easily gauge the depth.

Next, using a sturdy piece of wire, clear the tap hole of any remaining sawdust.

With your hammer, gently tap the spile firmly into the hole. Make sure to secure your hook onto the spile before setting it into the hole!

Securely set your bucket onto the tap.

Place the lid on the bucket, making sure it is tightly fastened. We have ceaseless winds up here, and it's amazing how far a lid can blow

It never fails that before all the trees are tapped, the cold makes the drill's battery fall asleep on the job. So, I resort to using my other cordless drill!

Repeat til you have all your sugar maples tapped. Then, wait until the weather is ideal for the sap to start flowing, which should happen in the next two weeks! Sap will start flowing when the daytime temperatures are above freezing and the nighttime temperatures are below freezing. I'll follow up when the sap starts!