April 7, 2013
There are spring beginnings all around us here at Pot Hole Farm. The daffodils are in bloom and we noticed small buds forming on tree branches. The bluebird is checking out the bird house and our annual Phoebe is rebuilding her nest on the gutter downspout. A few days ago Sonny was able to plow the garden and today we planted two rows of kale and a row of mixed lettuce greens.
We finally built the turkeys a house and pen last week and not a minute too soon. Our turkey girl made herself a nest in the soft hay and laid her first egg. Its not much bigger than a chicken egg, but give the girl a break its her first.
Turkey egg is the white egg.
Well we bit the bullet and invested in an outdoor wood furnace to heat the house. We finally got tired of the smoke the indoor wood stove liked puff out every time we tried to reload it with wood. Both of us grew up with wood stoves and a little puff of smoke is normal, but these new EPA regulated stoves are horrible. We are not the first to have this problem and have read complaints on other blogs. This outside wood furnace should do the trick. I know some of you are curious to know how this furnace works so Sonny will do an update later and will be able to answer any questions you may have. You would only be confused if I attempted to explain it.
Outdoor wood furnace is only set in place. There is much more that needs to be done.
March 24, 2013
The date on the calendar may say its spring time, but we are already getting prepared for next winter. Our first year making maple syrup taught us that the evaporator is an insatiable beast when it comes to its favorite fuel. Wood. The furnace consumes the wood logs in the same manner a dog scarfs a chunk of steak and then looks for more.
We hope to get about ten cords of wood stored and set aside for the evaporator. Our house is heated by a wood stove too, so we will need to cut another three to four cords for it.
There is a stand of trees in our east pasture that we have wanted to clear out, so that is where we have begun our wood harvest. Sonny fell one tree yesterday and then another today. We cut the trunks up into rounds and have temporarily stacked them on the wood racks. Later we will use the log splitter to split them and then replace them in the racks to dry over the summer. They should be ready to use by next winter.
Wood rounds waiting to be split.
The weather is still cool and perfect for wood cutting. Better to get the majority of it done now before the temps rise. Its no fun cutting wood when its sweltering and the last thing you want to think about is fire. Thats homestead life. You are always preparing for the season ahead.
March 4, 2013
Thanks to everyone who has already purchased their syrup so far. We have had a few days here where it has been too cold for sap to run so we were able to orders sent out. Now is the time to order. I think we will have another sap run this Saturday.
February 28, 2013
Well we are still at it around the farm. I was in the sugar shack until nearly 1a.m. last night. Last night it got down to freezing so that will be good for the Maple trees. It is snowing here this morning and I’m not sure when it will warm up again to allow the trees to start the sap flowing again.
Before the sun went down
We are going to try to head into town this morning. The county has been working on the 6 mile dirt road that we live on for the last 2 weeks. There has been some soft side areas in places and they are working to reenforce the edges to keep if from moving down the hill.
February 19, 2013
We just finished up bottling our last couple runs of pure Maple Syrup. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to mail them out to you. The cost is $12.95 per Pint plus mail costs. PayPal works best or Our-WV webpage. Get it while it lasts.
Note: We intend to ship on Wednesdays of each week.
February 6, 2013
How do you like our new Pot Hole Farm logo.
January 22, 2013
Sonny and I are always looking for ways to repurpose old or worn out things. He had a pair of muck shoes that were still in good shape except that the sole had cracked at the bend of the shoe. Every time he stepped in water or mud his sock would get wet. So we bought him a new pair, but what to do with the old pair. It seemed a shame to just throw them in the trash. There must be some job they could fulfill.
People are always using old boots as planters or bird houses, why not use an old pair of muck shoes as a bird feeder? Sonny nailed the shoes on the side of the tree stump and then filled them with birdseed. The birds love it! Especially the little nut hatches. I’d say its a job well done.
The shoe feeder
January 21, 2013
Maple syrup may be the top event going on here at Pot Hole Farm, but its not the only one. We still have daily chores to attend to that include gathering firewood, taking care of the guineas, chickens, turkeys and cats and dogs. Because we have had few days of sunshine the generator needs to be fed as well and that means going down to the Country Store to fill up gas cans. Gray cloudy days do not make enough energy for the solar panels to charge the batteries.
January is also the month we start to plan for spring projects and one of those projects is the garden. Today we took a trip over to John and Carols where a nice pile of composting donkey manure was waiting behind the barn. John used the bucket of his dependable 1970′s Ford tractor to dump four large scoops of manure into the bed of our old farm truck.
We were almost home when it began to snow. Large fluffy flakes floated on the wind and landed on the frozen ground. We used pitch forks to spread the manure over about a third of the garden while snow flakes swirled around us creating a scene fit for a snow globe. The manure was black and rich with pink earthworms playing hide and seek in the clumps. It will lay atop the garden for the rest of winter where it will continue to decompose and feed the soil. We still need to get three or four more loads to finish covering the garden.
The snow is continuing to come down and the temperature is dropping. Time to curl up with a cup of coffee and a seed catalog.
January 17, 2013
The Ancient One
She’s not pretty and appears to be as old as Methuselah with her bent and twisted limbs. She is frightening to most when they see her lightening strike scared bark and she could be the star of any horror film with a group of black crows resting upon her craggy branches. The sapling youth of this Sugar Maple is long passed, but the sweet sap of life still courses through her veins.
She’s a hard worker this one, producing the sweetest and largest quantity of sap than any of our other trees. Hopefully the old girl will continue to work for us for many more syrup seasons. She has stood strong for these last hundred or so years, through many a violent storm, but I fear her time is coming. Each year the storms tear a little more of her away.
So think on this the next time you open your bottle of sweet Maple syrup. Remember that a scary ancient tree gave you the best syrup you ever tasted. And we all know that would be Pot Hole Farm Maple syrup. So get your taste buds ready. Its Maple Syrup time.
January 10, 2013
Friday morning we will have just enough Maple Sap to start our early boil. The last 3 days or so had been pretty good weather for a sap run. Typically you need temps like 20′s at night and 40′ during the days for the flow to start. Unfortunately it looks like the next several days it will be too warm for any sap. The 120 gallons collected is just barely enough to fill the evaporator but it is still new so what the heck.
So far most of our 120 gallons has come from the east side of the farm, that area receives some the first sun of the day. The Maple trees on the west side never get much and really warm up and received only a small amount of sun late in the afternoon. It may pick up later in the season as the sun starts to stay out a little longer.
Collecting sap from one of five tanks on the farm.
If it turns out that the west side is a low producer I will concentrate on the east trees for next years expansion. I guess time will tell. The picture above shows how I use a D.C. powered pump to suck the sap from the collection tanks through out the farm.
Transferring sap to the indoor holding tank.
The above picture shows how I transfer the sap from the 65 gallon transport tank in the back of the Kubota into the 100 gallon tank in the Sugar Shack. This process so far beats carrying 5 gallon buckets and pouring them.
100 gallon storage tank in the Shack.
Here is the 100 gallon holding tank that is sitting on a 6 foot platform. It feeds the sap into the evaporator via the float control. Notice the sight gauge on the side. it seems to work good but I still climb up on the ladder to see the level in the tank. That may get old in a year or so.