March 14Posted on: March 15, 2013
A puppy………. Glad they have it and not me; Tufts would probably run away from home! Jason has dealt with Angela’s Shitizu puppy before, so I’m not worried about the care. Jacob was a bit leery at first, but it being a puppy, it just loved the attention, and seemed to know that Jacob was special. Emilee wants it for herself, of course. Now to find it food! I know we can pressure cook avian bones to the point of them being soft, and add it to other things, like rice. The boys have always enjoyed hunting, and spring is a good time to find grouse. It will be a win-win meal when they do: the humans get the breasts and the rest will be cooked down for the pup.
The puppy is about ten weeks old. The mother was bred just before The Event and birthed just after New Year’s. She really is a beautiful thing, pure bred, and likely would have gotten the owners a pretty penny. But things being as they are, they gave away two of the five pups, two died, and the fifth is now Jason’s. In honor of the only other Golden I’ve known and loved, her name is Chevas; Kathy will be pleased. Maybe someday we will give Kathy and Bob one of Chevas’ puppies; I’d like that.
The days have cooled back down and the nights are cold. With the bright sunshine during the day though, it’s perfect weather for tapping trees and making Maple syrup. I was out digging in the small shed when John came looking for me.
“Are you looking for something in particular?” he peeked into the shed, past the boxes I had moved.
“You’re just in time!” I smiled up at him. “Can you pull these boxes out so we can get this big one out?” I rapped on a plastic box. He slid one of the other plastic boxes out first and set it on the soggy grass, then put two card board boxes on top of it; just as I would have done to keep the more fragile boxes dry. I pushed the larger box toward him and he pulled it out of my way.
“What’s in here? It’s not as heavy as it looks.”
“Syruping gear: Six sets of taps, buckets and tents, plus a brace and a selection of bits.” I answered wiping my hands on my jeans. When he gave me a blank look, I asked if he had ever made maple syrup.
“Made it? No, but I’ve eaten it on pancakes,” he grinned. He set the box aside and handed the other boxes back to me to put away.
I lined everything up on the counter, and filled the sink with hot soapy water, adding the taps to soak, and washing the tents first. They were just pieces of sheet-metal, crimped in half to form a tent to keep debris, snow and rain from falling in and curled edges on the bottom that would hold it onto the bucket. The buckets were galvanized pails with a hole near the top that would hook onto the tap.
“It’s a simple set up, really,” I explained to John. “We’ll drill a hole in the tree, two feet up from the ground at a slight angle, so the sap runs downward. We drive the tap in, let it run a couple of minutes to flush out the sawdust, and then attach the pail and tent. Tomorrow morning we collect the sap and start boiling.”
“That’s it? I thought it would be more involved than that.”
“Well, that’s really just the first step. Once we collect a couple of gallons, and before boiling, we filter the clear sap to get any debris or bugs out of it; then it goes into a pot on the stove. When it cooks down, we add more, and keep adding until it’s condensed to a dark golden color,” I explained further. “It will take about fifty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.” He raised his eyebrows at me. “But it’s worth it, trust me.”
As we were setting the six taps, two to a tree, I told him a funny story about a local: “Bob couldn’t figure out why everyone else was having a great sap run and his was very little. He had done it all right: measured up two feet and set the taps on the south side of the tree. It wasn’t until melt down that he found out his error: when had to get a step ladder to pull the taps that were six feet up from the ground; he had measured two feet up, from the snow. We all had a good chuckle, and try not to remind him of that spring.” I showed John where I had set taps before, that were now plugged with a branch from that tree, and sprayed with pruning seal. “These old tapping spots are well healed, so we can drill as near them as we want, otherwise we’d have to move over a few inches.”
“How do you know they’re healed?” he asked. It was a good question.
“They must be; I haven’t tapped in four years,” I admitted.
“One of the tapping traditions I like the best is the morning coffee made from fresh sap!” I smiled at the thought of tomorrow morning. “It gives the coffee an interesting and pleasant taste. You’ll like it.” I assured him.
2 thoughts on “March 14”
What a nice up-beat post! Almost makes me feel like spring is in the air – instead of the next winter storm!
Morning coffee.. made from fresh maple tree sap.. can’t say I have ever heard of that, let alone tried it! If I ever get up that way in the future, maybe you would perk some for me? LOL!!!