3/16/13

Busy, busy, busy... In the last month there has been maple sugaring, goat milking, (buck kid was born 3/3) willow coppicing and layering, rocket stove (and other) experimentation for boiling sap, lots of work in the shop, and planning for spring plantings. 

There are 27 taps on the maples behind the house.  Ross has been busy carrying a 5 gallon bucket from the spiles to the stove.  Boiling in the house has some serious drawbacks, and it obviously turns the house into something like a sauna.  However, it is a perfect time for a little spring cleaning.  Those flyspots you thought were never coming off?  One wipe.  Gone.  Hauling buckets can be a bit of a chore, too.  But the syrup sure is sweet.

The goat known as Twitch gave birth to one young buck dubbed simply by Cyril as "Billy the Kid."  He had been warned about the hazards of bestowing a buck with something resembling a proper title, so this is what he came up with instead.  Billy is a fine Alpinish looking mutt -brown with black and white who came from 2 all-white parents.  Twitch is part Saanen and a good milker.  When Ross beats Billy to the teat in the crisp morning, occasionally she gives about a quart of milk.  That's not bad for not being separated at all.  Starting April 7, they'll be separated at night, with Billy sleeping in a little kid pen.  There are more kids to be born, and we're staying tuned!

As for the willow coppicing and propagation, there's numerous reasons for this.  No one here has worked with willow much; Ross made most of a basket about 12 years ago, and that was about it.  Tiffany reports making something like birds nests as a child, so yeah, we're not experienced.  Ross has woven some wattle curbing using Morrow's honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii) however and the sandbar (Salix exigua) and black willows should work nicely for that and also provide a yield from a creekbed stabilization project that's underway.  Propagation has included layering and just pounding finger or bigger sized sticks into the ground cut about this time of year.  Some of the layering has worked -much really hasn't.  Driving sticks into the ground has worked much better.

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 a hastily constructed boiler that worked albeit a bit slowly.

a hastily constructed boiler that worked albeit a bit slowly.