March 2009



House...porch needs a cleaning.

House...porch needs a cleaning.

Our house is pretty much finished….on the outside. There will never be an end to fixing this or that with an old house…and even on some new houses. Its an expected responsibility in home ownership. More so on an aging home. We are very pleased with our progress so far. We are very thankful for all the help that has been given to us from various freinds and family. Enjoy the pictures of the progress.

Before
Before
chimney tear down
chimney tear down
Chimney goes up
Chimney goes up
Beginning new roof
Beginning new roof
Freinds on roof
Freinds on roof
Siding comes off...insulation goes on
Siding comes off…insulation goes on
Frank Starts the new siding
Frank Starts the new siding
Back of house done
Back of house done
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Charles playnig the fiddle

Charles playing the fiddle

So anyway, pictured above is me and my son Charles. We were listening to some bluegrass and he really liked the fiddle sound. He is able to pick out the different instruments when he hears them: Banjo, Fiddle, Mandolin (that one is hard for him to decipher), Guitar, and the Bass. He always says “Can you hear that bass?”

I decided one evening to break out the fiddle that I have allowed to collect dust. His eyes lit up. I played as many tunes as I could remember for him. I was also limited by a missing “A” string.

He wanted to try so I let him hold it and showed him how to hold the bow, how to work the bow across the strings. I’ll just say, this is not a wise thing to do right before bed time! His shirt is off because he was getting so hot from dancing to the bluegrass music that was playing. =)


Sugar Shack

Sugar Shack

Now that all the sap has been collected for the year, the next process is boiling it. Although, boiling starts before collection is finished. As I mentioned in previous posts, I have been taking my sap to a friends sugar shack to have them boil it. They already have quite an elaborate system, so I figured that was the best arrangement.
As you see in the photos there is a large evaporator that takes up most of the space in the sugar shack.

Friends in the sugar shack

Friends in the sugar shack

Under the evaporator is where the fire is burning. The large stainless steel section holds the sap coming in from the bulk tank. This is where the majority of the water is boiled off. Then it flows to the front pan by way of a valve. In the front pan the sap is then “finished” off. This is where it turns to syrup. By the use of a hydrometer and the good old “drip test”, my friends determine when the syrup is at the right consistency. From there, they pour it off into 5 gallon buckets where it sits for about 2 weeks to let any residue or sediment settle to the bottom. From there, it gets bottled and sold or given away.

Evaporator

Evaporator


Charles helps center the log

Charles helps center the log

I had a great weekend.  Saturday morning started with a pancake breakfast with bacon from our local market down the road.  Then Charles and I went to go split wood for a few hours. He enjoyed watching the wood split apart with the swing of a maul. He also tried to pick up the biggest pieces he could carry and take them to the trailer.  He also enjoyed the bluegrass music being played from the van while Dadda worked. I truly enjoy these moments spent with my son.

For lunch, we all had a picnic at a local park.  Before dinner we all worked outside around the house. The weather was beautiful all day.

Like I said, I had a great weekend with my family.


The days are getting closer to when we have our own goats. As stated in another post, we have decided to go the pet/meat path for now instead of dairy goats. I know goats shouldn’t be seen as pets  and meat at the same time. But my goal is to have meat goats…but for now may be considered pets. I don’t think at first that I will be able to do the butchering. I think it might be easier to take them somewhere.  I think it will be too easy to get attached to only two or three goats as apposed to many.

So in preparation we have measured out  a 100′ by 100′ enclosure which will include our old metal shed. The roof on the shed had holes  rusted through it and holes in the plywood. Last night we cleaned out the shed and I ripped off and replaced the roof with some leftover metal roofing I had from our house re-roofing project. Everything went real easy and quickly.

Shed roof repair

Shed roof repair

I also started weed whacking around the perimeter of the area we are going to fence so that installing the fence will be easy.

Our next steps will be making a better floor in the shed for the goats and then purchasing the fence and fencer. We were going to go with the electric netting fence, which is quite expensive. But we talked with a friend of ours who suggested that we use 4 strands of 9-wire electric fence and get a mature goat along with one or two that are still young. So the older goat will be familiar with electric wire fence and also know how to graze.

This route will be much less expensive and allow us to expand our pasture area over time.

Some our pasture

Some our pasture


Sap leaking from tap hole.

Sap leaking from tap hole.

Sap leaking from the tap hole.

Sap leaking from the tap hole.

“Tap-tap-tap-tunk”, that’s how it was described to me by my friend Jim about what sound to listen for when hammering the taps into the trees. I remember last year on a wet snowy day, I was helping him tap the trees in front of his house. This was my first experience in the sap collection work. He gave me a drill, hammer and a few taps and showed me where to place the hole, angled up into the tree so the sap runs out, and then how hard to hammer the taps in.

He said to listen for that change in sound when tapping the taps into the hole. If you hear the “Tunk” then stop, don’t hammer anymore! If you do then the hole will split ever so slightly and then the sap leaks out. Well, I did remember those words this year, but  I was so sure that the taps weren’t seated firmly enough. So I went and tapped a few more times, just to be sure. You can see for yourselves the result.

It reminds me of a good proverb that my son actually just memorized: “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention, that you may gain understanding”


A little cleaner.

A little cleaner.

OK, well we made some progress with the mudroom. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and then Beck came in and starting helping. That really got the ball rolling! Its nice to have an extra set of helping hands, especially when you don’t know where to start. We were able to get to the chest freezer and measure it to see how it would fit in our newly planned floor plan. Its going to be a tight squeeze! I don’t know how I am going to get the freezer turned…it’s heavy! But we want the freezer perpendicular to the room. Going from the block chimney to the outside wall. Then we will have a wall behind the chest freezer, and everything behind that will become finished and a part of our family room/den.

Before I start anything, I have to clean out an overly stuffed closet that you cant see. It is to the immediate left of where I am standing when taking the pictures. After that is cleared out, I have to build deep shelving in the closet so that all of Beck’s canning supplies can go in there. Currently they are up on the shelf above the freezer. Not enough space there anyway. But that whole wall is going to get knocked out so the supplies have to go somewhere…the question is, where will the stuff in the closet go???

See Part 3.

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