Thursday, March 31, 2011

We're into the B...

By the looks of things, we are into "B" syrup season. Maple syrup is graded on its quality and color; ranging from lightest amber to dark, rich brown. (That's actually density and translucency if you want to get technical) While the tourists seem to gravitate towards the lighter stuff, those of us diehard maple lovers hoard the darker, "B" syrup. It's where the real maple flavor is at...

Can't say as I know all the reasons why late season sap is darker, but it may have something to do with cooking took almost the same amount of sap to produce both jars, so there was more water in the later stuff to be boiled off. Longer boil = longer time = darker color (think of carmelizing sugar when cooking).

There's another quart on the stove finishing right now, so we'll see how permanent this darker phase may be. The forecaster is calling for a foot of snow tomorrow - someone better tell the maples it ain't over yet!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Honey Brunch

What do members of the Mountain Women Beekeepers Guild do with all of these cold weekends? ( Eat, of course!)

Snacking with a purpose, anyway...

We held a Honey Brunch. Everyone had to bring something made with honey, and we also had a honey tasting.
We had 5 different honeys to sample, and it was amazing how different they could actually taste!
From left to right:
a) Honey from Kentucky, b) from our farm-late season honey from the honey super, c) from a farmette about 8 miles south of us, d) from a farm 8 miles to the northeast - locust honey from 4 years ago, and finally, e) a sample of last summer's honey, from the same farm, but a different hive.
When you have them all together like this, you can really notice the nuances - the honey from Kentucky was by far the mildest, the locust honey had very dark, spicy undertones, the honey from e) was so laden with floral tones it was almost like was a really interesting time.
I hope we can make this a yearly event - but that will all depend on the bees! We took heavy losses and all of us are purchasing new bees this year just to maintain the equipment/investment we have.

Anybody have more honey recipes to recommend?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Good for the Gander?

...I was doing evening chores.

We feed hay a half bale at a time, which means when I cut the twine, the first half is tight, neat and orderly flakes. The second half is, well, somewhat scattered (due mostly to the rampages of a goose and two dozen something chickens) but I squooge up an armful and manage to get a mostly intact pile down to the waiting diners.

Today was a squooge day, and I wrapped up the largest pile I could from the hay stacks, and deposited it on the sled. (I drag around my feed/hay on a sled for most of the winter). I turned to grab a scoop of grain, and when I looked back, there was an egg on the ground next to the sled.

It hadn't been there before - no one pinched it out when I wasn't looking - the only possibility was that it rolled out from the squooge of hay on the sled. So, someone laid the egg during the day, and here it was.

I was momentarily speechless. The egg was either evidence of a MAJOR case of prolapse for some unfortunate chicken, or...
Candy - the male Canada goose that has been farm greeter, chicken herder, comic relief, and my gardening companion for all these three years - is a girl.

Talk about your "late bloomer..."

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tap, tap, tapping..

That time of year again, although late because of the ghastly weather..

Only about a pint cooked off so far...but hoping for much better runs this week. We're going to try birch syrup this year also, as an experiment. Keeping fingers crossed...

Off to check the pails!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Crystalline Misery

My friend, Sue, asked me last night if I had given up on the blog. "No!", I replied, but was forced to admit I had been very quiet. Ridiculously quiet for someone who started a blog to connect with the rest of the world.


It's easy to get quiet and caught up in yourself with the winter we have had. Either that, or scream your head off in frustration as winter pounds away...I just opted for the former.

The latest:

Ice storm #2. ( There was actually another 3rd little one snuck in there, but who's counting?) These storms leave me feeling both awed and very tired. When the sun came out yesterday, the landscape looked as if it had been put together with glass trees and bushes. Brilliant, glittering branches everywhere you looked, and lots of them broken. I can't capture the amazing beauty with my limited camera skills; I don't know if anyone can. It truly might be one of those things you have to see to believe.
Roads were blocked with broken trees, downed power poles, and icy automobile accidents. Power was out for days for many neighbors. (We luckily, won the power lottery and didn't lose ours - for once!) The family down the road actually threw up their hands and went for the Hilton after the second day of no power...

I skated out to take care of the animals, and paused to listen to the whine of chain saws and chopping of logs and branches, and was just overwhelmed with the misery of battling winter yet again...

And then Candy waddled by with a dose of perspective...

"You haven't spent the winter locked in a barn full of spastic chickens!"

(Somedays, it just feels that way.)