Morgan Lynn

It’s been just a little over one month since we welcomed Morgan into our family.  She arrived on June 3rd at 6:27 pm and weighed just an ounce under 7 lbs.  She looks just like her big sister Joelle and it looks as though we have another red head too!!

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She’s our little angel baby with the pinkest, squishiest lips for all those kisses. xoxo

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last week [happenings in the garden]

So much excitement in the garden! We were pleasantly surprised when we starting finding our first eggs! We were expecting them for another 2 weeks, so it was so much fun looking in the coop and seeing an egg here and a couple more the next day.

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Joelle was wandering around the strawberry patch and noticed a few ripe ones and plucked them right off the vine and popped them in her mouth!

 

I’ve been able to leave the seedlings out during the day as its been sunny and pretty warm. We are planting snap peas for the first time this year.  They are pole growing so we went out to the woods to find some sturdy, straight branches to build our tee-pees with.

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last week [happenings in the garden]

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No sooner did we get our chickens, did a hawk swoop down and get one. It was quite traumatic for Jaiden and I and we decided the best thing to do was replace it.

It was a quite week in the garden for the most part. We enjoyed our first asparagus harvest and it was quite delicious.  Garlic is growing good and needing weeding here and there already.  I direct sowed some dill this year to use for dill pickles that we love so much and we happened to just finish our last jar of them last weekend.  I started quite a few seeds in terra cotta pots last night- cucumbers, beans, cabbages, and carrots so far. Peppers are well on their way and growing nicely.  New this year will be melons, but waiting for warmer temperatures to start those directing in the ground.

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Last Week [happenings in the garden]

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April, a little early to get things going in the garden, but so much hope and anticipation for the growing season to start.  Some bags of compost rototilled into the soil happened this week to get the soil prepped for little seedings that I plan on starting inside this week. I went a little crazy and picked up strawberry plants at the nursery (36 plants to be exact!). It’s always exciting to grow something new in the garden. The garlic is growing nicely and seems to be quite big already so early in the season. The asparagus is shooting through and being the 3rd year of planting, it’ll be the year of the first harvest! And, that, is just so exciting.

Chickens! we got chickens! Something we have been talking about for a while now and decided it was a good time to start a little flock of four. We have had pigs before, but kept them down the road a my uncles so this is our first experience with ‘barnyard’ friends right here in our backyard and its a little nerve wracking, kinda just winging it as we go. So far, so good!

On the list to get done this week is perhaps plant some blueberry bushes and to get lettuce, radishes and snap peas in the ground.

Happy start of the growing season friends!

Collecting and Processing: Part 2

Continued from Tapping: Part 1.

1. Collecting: So now that you have identified, tapped and waited for the sap to flow its time to collect.  We utilized a 55 gallon food grade plastic drum to store our collected sap in. We collect about every day and funnel the sap into the drum.  Sap can usually store for about 7 days, depending on the temperatures.  With our 19 taps we collect about 20-35 gallons of sap a week.

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2. Boiling: We tried a couple of methods for boiling this year just to see what works the best for our small syrup production.  What we found best was outside wood firing. We also tired pans on the grill. We utilized an old stainless steel container that was once used to weigh milk.  Josh built a 3 sided fire pit with pavers and set the stainless steel pan on top of that.  We collected dead branches  and sticks and others pieces of wood to feed the fire. Boiling sap uses a lot of wood! After it boiled down for about 4-5 hours and the amount was much less we would then transfer it to a stove pot and finish the boil on the kitchen stove.  A candy thermometer is a good idea to ensure that it reaches the proper temperature (about 220 degrees) to turn it into syrup.

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3. Filtering: After you have reached the proper temperature you have syrup!  Next up filtering out the sugar sand. I used two pre-filters inside of 1 synthetic filter.  Sometimes the filters would get clogged up and need to be cleaned before all the syrup was filtered.  Just wash it with warm water, no soap and keep filtering.

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We boiled 4 different times since tapping our trees. What you see above is all the processed syrup we produced. We didn’t know what to expect being our first year but for our family of four I’d say we did good, even with some to share with family! We will see what the weather does this week but we are thinking the sap is done running.  All and all it was such a fun experience and a great little thing to do with the family.  I loved it so much and just may miss it more than I think until next year!

Tapping: Part 1

On Saturday, February 20th, 2016 we tapped our first maple trees. In our backyard there is a corn field, behind the corn field are some wetlands and lots of maples.  I’ve always thought it would be neat to tap some trees for sap to boil down to syrup.
Here’s how we did it-
1. Explore and identify trees
This was a little tricky because we had never done it before and since there are no leaves or buds on the trees all we were going by was bark texture.  We identified some maples; which we are calling swamp maples due to their location.  After some research, I did find out you can tap a swamp maple. The water concentration will just be higher due to the tree’s location to water it takes up more water and therefore you just will need more sap to make your syrup.  IMG_2139

2. Gather supplies
We shopped around at our local hardware store and found what we needed. We decided to tap 9 trees so we purchased 9 taps with hooks, and 9 buckets (we just bought plastic pails used for painting with no lids). The other things you’ll need is a drill with 1/2″ drill bit and a hammer.
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3. Tapping
Now for the fun part! We drilled a hole about 3 feet up from the ground into the tree. Then we used a hammer pound the tap  into the tree. Then hang the bucket from the tap’s hook.  It would have been ideal to have a lid on the bucket to keep insects, pieces of bark and rain out of the sap. But, we made due. Now, wait for the buckets to fill up with sap!

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Up next Part 2: collecting the sap and boiling into syrup.

 

 

 

Siksak Hat (Knitting)

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I’ve been on a color work kick lately with my knitting. I whipped up this hat in just a few days; it was so addicting.  I have quite a selection of yarn colors since knitting The Flyaway Blanket for baby number 3 and this seemed to be the perfect hat to use up a few colors.

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Yarn: Nice & Knit DK in Starboard, Anchor, Driftwood, Cherrystone and Dockside.
Pattern: Siksak Hat (a free download!)  by: Hanna Levaniemi

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