Friday, March 28, 2014

More Eggs!

I had an earlier post about the egg drought being over and oh, boy is it!  This is yesterday's take and the number of eggs grows daily.  Hurray!

I love that this group of freshly washed eggs is a visual feast as well as an edible one.  

Did you know?

Eggs were fertility symbols, German farmers in ancient times smeared eggs on their plows to ensure fertile fields.  Colored eggs are considered powerful and are tossed into the laps of women who want to become pregnant.  Some feel that this idea of colored eggs is how painting eggs as Easter began.   

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Visiting Sugar Shacks

Last weekend was the Potter-Tioga Maple Weekend.  If you weren't fortunate enough to be able to go around to some of the sugar shacks (that's what a building in which maple sap is evaporated is called) then you'll definitely want to put it on your calendar for next year.  

We hope to be part of the tour next year, so I wanted to make sure I got my viewing in this year. 

My first stop was Brydonson Farm.  Brydonson Farm had all kinds of fun activities going on.  As well as having a store that sells maple processing equipment and all kind of maple goodies, they serve a fabulous pancake breakfast.  

Inside Brydonson Farm store - some of the maple processing equipment. 

Brydonson Farm - Boiling sap the old fashioned way.

Brydonson Farm - Fire starting 101 (kids having fun!)

Brydonson Farm - the top of the smoker (see the next picture)

Brydonson Farm - the owner of Costello Inn set up his smoker and sold delicious pulled pork sandwiches (with maple syrup in the sauce, of course!)

Brydonson Farm - after maple sap is boiled down into maple syrup it is run through this filter press.  This cleans out the particles and makes the syrup clear instead of cloudy.  

Brydonson Farm - a small evaporator for the hobby maple syrup-er!

Brydonson Farm - New Horizons Creamery offered yummy cheese samples and sold the most amazing homemade cheese, yogurt, and ice cream!

My next stop on the tour was the Sons of Dunn sugar shack.

Sons of Dunn- has an incredibly large evaporator.  Go to see the reverse osmosis units and their set up for large capacity maple sap processing.  You'll be astounded!

Sons of Dun- Maple syrup beautifully displayed.

Then I drove over to Wending Creek Farms.  Wending Creek has a beautiful facility.  Again with a huge maple sap evaporator and the capacity to process lots and lots of maple syrup.

Wending Creek Farms - maple syrup bottled in glass and in plastic.

Wending Creek Farms- The evaporator is gas powered.  You can see the jets blowing heat into the bottom of the maple sap evaporator.
Wending Creek- a giant evaporator!

Wending Creek Farms - A tree showing the set up for old time maple collection with a galvanized maple bucket and the newer plastic bag.  

Wending Creek- we ran into the Miss Austin Maple Sweetheart as she visited all the sugar shacks on the tour.  

Wending Creek- some of the many colors of maple syrup.  

Wending Creek- an example of maple tree tapping using tubing.  This is the way its most commonly done now by serious maple syrup producers.

My final stop was Hamilton's Sugar Shack in Ulysses.  There are many more sugar shacks on the tour, but I wasn't able to visit any more.  

Hamilton's Sugar Shack- offers a great pancake breakfast.  

Hamilton's Sugar Shack- in a beautiful dining room.  There are lots of interesting antiques around the room. 

Hamilton's Sugar Shack- examples of the many lovely maple bottles available.

Hamilton's Sugar Shack - an antique maple sap collection sled.  A team of horses would be hooked up to this and heavy buckets of sap would be poured into it and then it would be pulled back to where the maple was being boiled.  Folks sure were tough in the old days!

Next year, we hope to have Fitzgerald's Family Farm on the tour and offer lots of nice activities! 

Mark your calendars for the third weekend in March and stay tuned!

Be sure to blog hop over to Tilly's Nest!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Spring Warms Up A Little Bit: A Catch Up Of What's Happening

Spring is in the air. 

 Oh, its still cold outside and the maple trees tease us by producing small amounts of sap and we've begun boiling a little bit for maple syrup.  But the robins and red-winged blackbirds have returned and the air doesn't seem to have the bite its been holding.    

The chickens haven't had their wings trimmed, so they've flown out of their yard (you can see the garden shed/chicken coop in the background) and are roaming close to the house.  They discovered the bird feeders and have started to clean up all the seeds that the wild birds didn't want.  Foghorn Leghorn, our white leghorn rooster almost looks like a statue of a rooster.  Click on the photo to get a blown up version.  Isn't he gorgeous?   

The turkey jake feels amorous and fluffs and strut around his four hens.  It doesn't take much to get him excited.  We cough, he gobbles.  We do our tortured version of a turkey gobble, he gobbles.  If we keep doing it he starts to puff up.   

When he has his wings drooping down (like in the first and second pictures) he actually vibrates them and it makes a loud humming noise.  It almost sounds like a bee buzzing!  And when he's all puffed up and gobbles, his gobble makes a drum-like noise.  Notice how blue his head gets?  

Tigger, our Idaho Pastured Pig boar, has grown up!  He's still sweet, but I'm cautious around him because of his size.  Yesterday, he kept poking me with his nose and Fitz, my hubby, said, "you better reprimand him," but Tigger just wanted his head scratched.  He closed his eyes and blissfully stretched out his back and back legs as soon as I started rubbing behind his ears.  

His tail isn't a perfect curl.  

Flower, our Idaho Pastured Pig gilt, is hopefully pregnant.  I'm not an expert on piggy pregnancy, but Flower and Tigger were pretty lovey dovey in January.  She's not really showing any signs of it yet, so I guess time will tell.   

I still have some pumpkins and winter squash in storage in my basement (I can't believe they've lasted so well!) and I've been using them to supplement the pigs' feed.   These winter squash are rock hard when I throw them in for the pigs and they bite right through them.  Its kind of scary!

Clarence, the Muscovy duck and his girls have led a winter of leisure.  They love when its warm enough for us to fill their little water dish and then it doesn't freeze immediately!  

They try to swim in the little dish!  I hope to put in a little pond for them this summer.  

The bees haven't done much.  It's still too cold for them.  I fed them pollen patties the other day when it was a little bit warmer outside.  I pop the top lid and inner cover, throw in the patty, and a handful of bees fly up at me to sting the crap out of me (yes I wear my bee suit!), and I quickly close the top.  

But look at that gorgeous blue sky!

The chickens have begun to explore their yard now that there's not a foot of snow on it!  They pick at the few blades of green grass.  Eggs will start getting better and better!

The high tunnel is still buttoned up.  You can see the piles of snow that slid off it over the winter.  I've been working inside to clean it up for spring planting.  I put a little cafe table and chair in there and went out to read my book.  It was 80-degrees inside!

Lady, my horse, and her horse friends have been moved across the road to their spring pasture.  It's been a looooong and much too cold winter and I look forward to getting some riding time in!  

There are pictures of a coyote killed deer following.  So if you don't want to see them.  Stop here!  

Predators are always a risk in the country.  Close to our house we've had to deal with coyotes, bears, skunks, and opossums.  In the pasture next to our mini farm, I found the leftover carcass of a deer that had been killed and eaten by coyotes.  The vultures have been flying over to scan the area (scaring the pants off the chickens!) then group up around the carcass.    

And there you have a quick wrap up of spring.  I hope to get some pictures with real green grass soon!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Fingers Crossed For The Bees!

Yes!  I saw a few bees outside the hive yesterday!  See my previous post to see why I was so worried.  

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Are The Bees Clustered?

I sure hope the bees went into cluster again after this nice warm weather.  

Hi 49.0°
Lo 30.0°
Precip (in)
Hi 53.0°
Lo 38.0°
Precip (in)
Hi 40.0°
Lo 9.0°
Precip (in)
Hi 15.0°
Lo 6.0°
10 %
Hi 48.0°
Lo 31.0°
10 %
Hi 38.0°
Lo 18.0°
20 %
Hi 25.0°
Lo 13.0°
20 %
Hi 30.0°
Lo 21.0°
10 %
Hi 38.0°
Lo 31.0°
10 %
Hi 43.0°
Lo 26.0°
50 %
Hi 37.0°
Lo 21.0°
40 %
Hi 38.0°
Lo 24.0°
10 %
Hi 43.0°
Lo 31.0°
30 %

When the temperature gets above 40 degrees the bees get a chance to go out of the hive and relieve themselves.  This is something they won't do in the hive and if winter is very long and cold the bees can get a form of dysentery (called nosema) from it.  It makes beekeepers happy when the bees get some warm-ish spring days.    

Yesterday and earlier this week the weather got warm enough for the bees to go out (hurray!), but then yesterday the temperature dropped from a high of 40-degrees to a low of 9 degrees!  

Bees In Cluster

Winter cluster is when the bees get into a ball inside the hive and the outside bees rotate to the inside and vice versa.  The temperature inside this ball of bees has been measured up to 95 degrees!  If my bees didn't get into cluster, its very possible that they froze to death.  Tomorrow's high temperature of 48 degrees will tell.  It the bees are alive they should be flying or crawling around near the hive entrance. 

 This would be a good time to say a prayer for the bees!

And be sure to hop over to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Blog Hop!