Saturday, February 15, 2014

Maple Tree Tapping

We got another 4 inches of snow last night, and our yard looks especially beautiful today.  Naturally, with more snow I started to think about food production!  So I started some seeds in the playroom (arrugula, broccoli, brussel sprouts and spinach), and then I got everyone on board for our latest project:

Maple Syrup Making!
Nathaniel tapped the trees and the sap should flow into the jugs/buckets.  Elijah helped us, while the younger two played in the snow.  All together, we tapped 5 trees.  We may tap a few more later.  Most of our maple trees are just barely big enough to tap, since you are supposed to have a 12" diameter tree.  

By the time we were done tapping, we could see sap flowing from 2 of the 5 spiles, so that is good news.  For maple syrup production, you want warm, above-freezing days with below-freezing nights.  Today was borderline on the temperature, as it was right around freezing, but tomorrow should be a better day for sap flow.  We hope to collect enough to start boiling in a few days.

In other food news, Nathaniel had to cull 2 hens today.  They had developed an issue with pecking at the other hens and eating their feathers.  In short, they had gone cannibal.  We wanted to act fast to make sure the problem would not extend to more hens, so now there are two hens in my fridge waiting to become chicken enchiladas.  The kids were ok with culling one, but they were very upset when we told the boys that we had to cull 2.  We never eat the hens, just roosters, so it was sad for them, but they understand that we can't have cannibal chickens.  And we still have 13 hens, so it's not like we have a shortage.  We actually didn't mention that we culled 2 to Lydia.  She knew we were killing one, and she can't really count the chickens anyway (they move too much, and she has trouble counting between 13-16).  She was mainly concerned that we didn't kill her favorite barred rock, "Fatty", and after I assured her that Fatty was not on the chopping block, she was happy.  Honestly, we had 3 or 4 fat barred rocks, so none of us is entirely sure which one is "Fatty", but that includes Lydia, so as long as there is still a fat one, she'll be happy.
Current chicken totals:
1 rooster (barred rock)
Crest (our white hen)
5 barred rocks
7 reds (Rhode Island red crossed with something else)

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