Lost Arts studio

A lot of the fiber arts I enjoy are things like tatting, netmaking, chair caning, and even weaving, where people will come up to me when I demonstrate and solemnly tell me, "That's a lost art."

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Location: SW Outer Nowhere, Michigan, United States

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a chicken. (With apologies to Peter Steiner.)



11 March 2006

Spring and Sunshine

I finally got outside with the brace and bit, the spiles, the rubber mallet, a carboy, and so on, and drilled a couple of holes in one of the maples. For scale, the glass carboy is the five-gallon size, and this maple is big enough that my hands don't meet when I put my arms around it. It's one of the smaller maples on our property.

We have five enormous ones along the property line, and since we have SUN! I thought I'd go out and try to get pictures of the really big maples. I'm not going to try to tap them, though, because they are far enough from the house that carrying full sap buckets would be a problem.

After I got the taps in, we took a walk in the sunshine with Truffles the Unphotographable Dog, and I heard sandhill cranes flying over. The sound they make is unique. One of my bird guides describes it as "a long rolling kerrooo". Well, [dubious] that's sort of close. It's a loud, purring, trilling sound, and the fact that you can still hear it when the birds are circling so high in the sky you can barely see them says something about the sheer volume. I could see three groups, and counted over thirty birds before my eyes were watering too much from the sun (did I mention we had sun?!?) to keep counting. Operation Migration has a .WAV file of the Sandhill Crane's flight call in the Audio section. But it sounds pretty small and tinny compared to the real thing!

Last year I put in three taps (not all on one tree) and we got about a gallon and a half of syrup. We had pancakes this morning with some of the last of it. That's one of the things that motivated me to get out there with the drill.

We did not attempt to boil off inside the house. They estimate that it takes about 40 gallons of maple sap to make a gallon of syrup. So if you wanted to simulate the effect of boiling off indoors, take 39 gallons of water and slosh them onto the walls, windows, and ceilings of your kitchen and adjoining rooms. I didn't go for that idea, either. Instead we used a propane burner (like one of those "boiling a turkey in oil" outfits) and a very large enamel canning kettle to boil off outdoors. We finished inside on the kitchen stove when the sap was down to a gallon or less. It came out well enough that we are up for more boiling this year!

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