Spring 2020

Maple Syrup, Ice Melting Off the Pond, New Residents and a Bird's Eye View.

As the days get longer, one can ward off cabin fever by slogging through the snow, drilling holes in some maple trees, knocking in spigots and collecting maple sap, to boil down into sweet syrup.

This year, we used some tubing as well as improvized buckets. (With a hole in the lid, just big enough for the tubbing, the sap is kept particularly clean, making Clarabell particularly happy.) In addition, the tubing enabled us to collect sap from the garden side of the tree without having to walk around and into the garden.

The tubing can be used to connect numerous trees.

The big syrup operations run thousands of meters of tubing, from tree to tree to tree, always sloping down-hill so the sap collects in big vats. Here we only connect two taps on the same big tree.

Sap flows during the day when the temperature is above freezing. Then the temperature has to drop below freezing at night or the sap stops running. The season lasts as long as the temperatures go up and down - day and night.

As buckets of sap collect, they have to be boiled down to make syrup.

Most of the water is boiled off in the Summer Kitchen. We have finished it there, but to be careful and because it gets cold at night, we have been finishing it indoors where we have more control over the heat source.

Once the syrup hangs from the wooden spoon, it is ready to be bottled and stored for use through the year.

This year, for something different, we have tapped a couple of birch trees. (Birch sap's water to syrup ratio is 100 to 1 compared to 40 to 1 for maple sap) the birch is said to contain manganese, which has several health benefits in moderation.

A bucket hangs on the one tree while the one in the background has a tube running into a bucket.

At the end of the tapping season, we tried a new (to us) way of closing the holes in the trees. The drill, specially made for tapping trees is 19/64th". The bit is modified to be drawn into the tree as one drills. It's size is conveniently, just a bit smaller than easily available 5/16th" dowel. By sanding a slight taper on the end of a dowel, short pieces fit snugly into the holes. The tree will seal between its growing layer and the dowel in a very short time.


The ice has been melting at the pond.

You may remember from the pond filling series, the water level went up as the world froze. This final top-up came with a rain storm after the pond was basically full.

The ridges are from plowing earlier snows with the ATV that we use to keep the driveway clear.

The ice was perfect for skating when this water froze. Not long after, another snow came. We didn't plough again and our skating season was over

Some months later, the weather started warming and the ice began to thaw.

You might see a red sled at the top of the hill as the last of the snow on the toboggan run melts.

Slowly the ice receded from the sunny side.

Oops, the wind blew the chairs over. It is a great place to sit and ponder the wonder of it all.

The last of the ice blew to the end of the pond,

and then it was gone.

Several months back, before the snow, we spread various sorts of groundcover seed over the hill and covered it with hay. Now we watch for the green to emerge as we anticipate the hot weather.

The water is cold now, but when when the sun is bright and the temperature rises to 30ÂșC. it will be a big thrill to jump in the water

We hope to share that thrill with our many friends.

New Residents

We have been fortunate to be able to quarantine four people into our Covid-Bubble. Jakob found us through WorkAway. Many daunting tasks have turned out to be easy with his help. It is delightful to work with him.

Krys and Ashlynn have been visitors here several times over the last two years. The last time they were here, their son Phoenix was just one month. He is now 9 months old.

With willing help, as Spring moves on, the garden is ready for end of frost planting. Already the lettuce has its first real leaves, peas are poking above the ground and carrots and beets are stiring below.

For the birds, it looks like this.