Last night's wind made the night feel even colder, and kept the stoves going to keep us comfortable. Today I decided to help warm up the house by canning.
So that was today's project. I ended up with 13 quarts of cider and 7 quarts of beans. And a warm and toasty house. Free gas makes canning my own beans feasible but I am not sure it would be a saving if I had to pay for the utilities to do it.
A conversation on the Storytell listserve the other day made me think about my early days on this farm, and my first winter here when I decided to tap the maple trees. Here is a copy of the story I posted about that:
I remember my early years on this farm when I wanted to try making maple syrup (this would have been 1976-1977-1978). We had some maples around us, not many, but I thought I might be able to get enough sap to make a little syrup. I had read that red maples and other kinds could also be tapped, so I decided to try them too--25 trees in all. I used an old auger to drill the trees, and cut elderberry branches and removed the soft pith in the center to make my spiles. Every day I hiked up and down steep snow-covered hills collecting my sap, and I cooked it down on my wood cook stove.
In the end, for all my efforts I got about a pint, and it wasn't very good. I think I started too late, and the sap from the other maples just didn't have the sugar of the sugar maple.I tried for ywo years before giving it up as a bad idea. It is still a good memory, though. Those hours in the woods alone, watching the animals and birds, and seeing the slow coming of spring remain as one of the best times in my life. Maybe not the sweetest syrup, but a very sweet memory.
Here is a photo a friend posted on Facebook of my house when we first moved here. This must have been taken the winter of 1977-1978 (thanks, Laurel!).
There is a strange tale I sometimes tell that I found in a 1906 history book of my county, about some young people who were at a sugar camp when they were caught by a sudden storm. The creek came up so quickly that by the time they reached it, it was impassable. Two sisters grabbed switches from a nearby willow, whispered something to the sticks, and the sticks turned into a large white horse, big enough to carry all 4 of the young people across the creek--where the horse promptly turned back into willow switches.
Has to be true--it was in a history book.
Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.