fresh from the garden

fresh from the garden


Welcome to the ramblings of a fifty-something suburban "farmer"

Hoping that if you should stumble upon this blog my daily musings might bring a little smile to your day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

darn weatherman

I just finished boiling what could very well be the last batch of maple syrup for the year. It was only a half gallon but if the weather man is right (and of course this will be one of the rare times he is )we won't see freezing temps again until the fall.Such high hopes ,I was shooting for ten to fifteen gallons of syrup and wound up with two and a half. So much for our pancake breakfast.I guess we'll end up using Mrs. Butterworth's .The general rule is one quart for every tap .I had seventy two taps times one quart should have been eighteen gallons.I figured ten was being conservative .Ended up more conservative than my political views .Oh well ,man plans God laughs.The good news is I ordered my blueberry bushes so I'll have something new to blog about as I venture into suburban farming. Had my "final" for cake class last night .Everything was going along smoothly , got my roses on the cake, made and froze the additional flowers, this was going to be very niiice.I got the border on and proceeded to place the best frozen flowers in their appropriate spots on the edge .I got this no problem. Final step ,put the center in each flower.As I spin the cake around I put a bright pink center in each fire red flower .Suddenly as I make my way around the cake I notice that all of the borders are smeared and the flowers are toast. The girl across from me put her pastry tube on my side of the table so it made a nice squeegee and flattened the bottom edge of my cake .So niiice(not my actual thoughts but this is not an adult only blog)!!!! Fortunately the teacher saw the cake before because I had no more frosting to pull off the repair. Guess we'll have to eat the accident ,Darn.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some guys have all the luck.

It seems that we are in the middle of a sap drought here this year . The weather, while good for our heating bills ,hasn't been condusive to maple syrup production. It seems I picked a not so good time to begin my new hobby.I posted a request for sap on (that's the forum I belong to )and people are telling me that many are in the same boat. I guess I should feel lucky that I get to boil another twenty or so gallons of sap tomorrow before the real warm weather arrives.It could be worse .

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's all in how you look at it.

Perception is an interesting thing. In the beginning I was so excited to get four and a half gallons of sap ,getting to boil it to a whopping fourteen ounces of maple syrup. A few weeks later I get to boil thirty two gallons of sap down to one hundred and eight ounces of golden goodness and it's not enough. I WANT MORE!!!! I want to tinker with the process ,I want to make gallons and gallons and gallons. If there was actually enough sap to feed this new addiction maybe that would be enough. Although I don't think they sell sap on the street corners in Springfield. I can see it now "Hey man I got some really fine four percent Sugar maple ,I can give you a sweet deal." What am I supposed to do for the forty something weeks between sugar seasons? I guess I 'll just have to write this blog.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Has anybody see my day

It's amazing how fast 24 hours go by sometimes.Sorry about missing a post please forgive .I'm too tired today for humor (just started filtering the eighty or so ounces of syrup I boiled today).I can't figure this sap thing out Last night was supposed to be the textbook maple sap situation twenties at night fifties in the day.Only got about nine gallons .From seventy two taps that sucks .Oh well such is life .Better post tomorrow I promise.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

A funny thing happened on the way to the .......

What a start to the day today.In getting ready to make the Tic-tac cake last night I found that my wife ate the walnuts .Oops ,now had to wait til this morning. So first thing I headed to BigY for walnuts and I thought I would be nice and get my wife more French vanilla coffee since she had run out and hates my blend.Seemed harmless enough ,Looking around I found the coffee ,picked up the bag and gave it a little squeeze to make sure the vacuum was still intact (honest it was only a little squeeze).Bad move.The bottom of the bag blew out and there I stood covered from knee to navel in French Vanilla shrapnel.Of course the Store Manager happened to be discussing something with the dairy person about ten feet from me. The popping sound from the bag caught her attention only to have her see this crazy looking guy clutching a severely leaking bag of new England's own and wearing a pretty good amount of it.She held her composure and calmly asked if I needed a hand ."DUH, I tink so" I muttered.She cleaned up my mess while I rescued the remainder of the coffee.She quipped "at least it wasn't the mayo or Italian dressing". Got the walnuts without any further casualties .Went home and got the cake going before Scott from bark busters came over to assess our whacked out cockapoo Blackjack.You have to understand that Blackjack is a great dog as long as you live in this house .Other than that not so much.We tried obedience school and If I had the video of he and my wife I'm SURE we would be ten thousand dollars richer.I'll save the rest of that story for another day.I saw the ad for barkbusters at the vet and laughingly said maybe I'd call them.
My wife agreed that we might at least hear them out ,so we set up an appointment for this morning figuring even the dog whisperer couldn't do anything with our whackjob.We were amazed within one minute he showed us how to change his attitude .He's a different dog. We figure he must have drugged him when we weren't looking.We'll see how long it lasts.The tic-tac cake took over fours hours ,I'll post more on it on the sugar arts page with photos tomorrow.Oh yeah And by the way I collected twenty four gallons of sap toady (the most in one day so far) Go figure.

Friday, March 5, 2010

water ,water everywhere but not a drop of sap

Legend has it that the native Americans stumbled upon maple syrup by accident (kind of the same deal as Good year and vulcanizing rubber).I wonder if they had a sap dance for when there was a dry spell. Maybe they could have turned on Donnie Osmond (or some equally sappy tunes ) and danced around hoping the spirits would give them sap just to shut it off. Things could be worse ,I could actually be trying to make a living with this .Empty mason jars just don't seem to have that appeal .Well maybe a hope jar of syrup to come (if you will it they will come) might take the place of pet rocks. There are really only a couple of minor problems with no sap .The first annual Suburban artisan pancake breakfast may end up using Mrs. Butterworth's and I was actually hoping to use some of this sweet nectar to bribe donations for my upcoming missions trip to Honduras in April .Right about now feeling a bit like Noah (although God didn't tell me to build a maple sugar evaporator)but still all dressed up with nowhere to go.I guess it's all for the best as I'm going to devote most of the next 2 days to the tic tac cake.Here goes nothing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

ho hum

Are we there yet? It seems that the corner has not been turned as previously thought . The maples are being very possessive of their precious sap. It's not like they need it more than I do. I feel like a dairy farmer trying to coax his prize Holsteins for the morning milk. You know you're in trouble when you are out in the woods talking to the trees (If a crazy man talks to trees out in the woods and no one else hears him does it really make a sound?)What's worse is I start off with words of encouragement and positive reinforcement but by the tenth tree I'm threatening the chainsaw if we don't see some effort. They say there will be a time when I won't be able to keep up with the sap .What do they know, just because some of them have been doing this for generations ,this is my first year I don't have patience for that someday. I want it now!!Of course when it comes I'll probably complain and whine "when will it stop?".
In the meantime I'll turn to my other new hobby, cake decorating. Did my second cake project for class last night .hopefully photos below.It's very interesting the reaction people have to clowns.The full spectrum including the extremes .My daughter absolutely HATES clowns ,she didn't even want me to bring the clowns home. Others think clowns are the next best thing to sliced white bread. It's amazing how time flies on class day ,I was only able to make white frosting and had to color it on the fly during class .I am going to attempt a box of tic-tacs cake for the girl next doors birthday on Saturday .I'm going to try and do a Youtube video of it .Hopefully I'll be able to show step by step.We'll see.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

An almost perfect morning

As I looked out of my kitchen window this morning a fresh batch of snow is falling .It sure is beautiful as it covers all of the gray and mud of late winter /early spring. I sit here listening to a smooth jazz station and enjoying a plate of steaming hot crispy edged french toast glistening with MY pure maple syrup.How sweet it is!!!! I can't help but notice how peaceful and serene I feel at this moment. Or maybe the Ambien hasn't worn off yet.It would be nice to share this with my wife but alas she's off to work. Some improvements were completed at the sugar shelter yesterday .A state of the art retractable roof was added .Alright it's a tarp that I roll up when not in use. But doesn't the retractable roof sound better? Also put a cap on the stack (number ten pasta sauce can slit down the side) as it is now too tall to just sling a five gallon pail over at the end of the day.Even finally got the handle on my custom stainless sap scoop (No more burnt fingers,at least from the part of the process).I did have pix of all of theses marvels but unfortunately my stone age digital camera didn't want to part with them for some reason. Another time . No sap today ,Such is the life of a sugarin' man.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The one gallon club

I'm not sure if there was such a thing as the one gallon club but there is now. All you need to be a member in good standing is to be able to say TRUTHFULLY that you've made at least one gallon of your own maple syrup.While this is not all that exclusive of a club here in New England , I'll bet that some of you don't even know someone who knows someone that makes their own. So now I will walk with my suburban nose in the air, pounding my chest of my great superiority .OK maybe not ,but it still feels kind of neat. After finally gathering enough sap (28 gallons )to make it at least a little more worthwhile I was able round up my maple sugarin stuff and work my way to the sugar shelter.Of course I had a few last minute improvements to tinker with . The countdown to ignition began at 4:30 .10...9...8... not as exciting as a shuttle launch but a lot cheaper. The fire got cranking and I was off , mission 003 " journey to the bottom of the sap bucket" was underway to boldly go where no other man has gone (at least since last time). Watching paint dry has nothing on actually just sitting and watching sap boil in the beginning .Except for maybe being warmer, sunnier, and usually not including large amounts of smoke and steam. Then it happens as the sap starts to reduce , a little at first ,then growing like the unraked leave pile ,the air gets a hint of the sweetness that's about to come and it starts to tint light amber. Although I really don't get much time to actually sit and watch the sap boil as I've got to manually add sap to my tank ,make sure the flow into the preheater is slow enough to keep it hot (oops don't forget it and have it overflow some of that precious sap) and stoke the fire .Hey I'm outdoors actually enjoying myself and getting a Vermont steambath in my own backyard. After three and a half hours I strut towards the house ,"mission accomplished" almost three quarts of hot sweet amber goodness. Life is good.

Monday, March 1, 2010

what a drip

Sorry about the late post but i just got finished filtering the days syrup.More on that tomorrow.If you are unhappy about my tardiness I'll be glad to refund the full purchase price that you paid me for reading this blog.Oh wait a minute it 's free so I guess I can double it. To some folks the pitter patter of little feet is a joy to their heart.For me not so much,but the pitter patter of little drops of sap hitting the bucket is music to my ears. The more and the faster the better .Finally the sap has started to flow .I collected almost twenty gallons of sap in the twenty four hour period from Sunday morning to Monday morning. that's more than the last five days combined.Maybe we've turned a corner. It just goes to show you that a single drop can make a difference when they combine with other drops. They can be poured together and boiled over a very hot fire for hours .Well alright that's not the real message with the drop thing but it could be.