Archive for Gardening

Differences between the Northerners and the Southerners…

I have a good friend in Maine who decided this year she was going to make her own maple syrup. She was really excited about it, sent me a very knowledgeable article about how to go about it and I was really impressed with her ambition to tackle this project. We make our own cane syrup and that’s a job in itself, so I had a pretty good idea of what she was going to take on all by herself. Here’s a picture of one of the trees on her first day of tapping the syrup…

Cat's Maple Tree Tapping


Interesting, huh?  Looks cold and looks like a lot of work, but wow, how cool, I thought to myself.  I saved this picture to my screensaver.  Today she sends me this picture.  Now keep in mind, our weather here today in Florida is just beautiful, the sun is finally out and the wind is blowing a gale, and I can’t wait to get out in it…)

The Cars in the Yard Today


I looked at this picture and thought, “Wow, what an April Fools Day they are having!”  Then I noticed that odd shape sticking out of the front of the truck.  Emailed her about that…she said “They stand the wipers up so they won’t freeze to the windshields…better than trying to dig them out to warm up the car…”

Well, duh, now that I see that, it makes perfect sense.  Glad we don’t have to do that here in good old sunny Florida…

I proceed to ask her how her maple syrup making is going and  she tells me this and I quote…

“Well, let’s see, my maple syrup experience…where do I begin…We put out 15 taps in maple trees out to camp and in a week I had 35 gallons of sap.  My next part was boiling it down…where we have too much snow this year I couldn’t get to the fireplace.  So with my real smart intelligence that I have I set up two gas cookers in the shed out to camp (the ones used for deep frying a turkey).  I had one going real low to keep the sap hot and the other one boiling like hell, getting the water out of the sap…then I’d add the hot over to the boiling.  Do you know how long it takes to boil down 35 gallons of sap??? I DO!!!  I started at 1:30 p.m. and was still at it at 3:30 a.m., 13 frigging hours…and it was now down to only one gallon left…so I took it in camp and finished it off.  Took about another two hours to get it to 219 degrees…had my jars all ready to put it in.  By then I was so freaking tired…out of 35 gallons of sap I ended up with the grand sum of  5 DAM PINTS of syrup!! I call it liquid gold!!  Everyone has asked me for some…I tell them, “Are you for real!”

15 taps with hoses…$30.00

Trip to camp everyday…gas for car…$30.00

Propane gas to run 2 cookers 13 hours…$35.00

Candy thermometer – $5.00

Cheese cloth for straining…$4.00

Learning experience….PRICELESS!!!

I learned I’ll never do it again!!  So basically that is my maple syrup experience in a nutshell!!”

I had a really good laugh over this and just had to write it down.  Gee…I wonder…should I ask her if she’ll send me a pint of that liquid gold?  By Fedex?  I’d better not…I don’t really like maple syrup THAT much, I’m hooked on the cane syrup.


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Grandkids and Gourds


Little Ghosties

This past summer Tim grew gourds in the backyard.  When he planted the seeds he thought they were the types of gourds that are used for Purple Martin housing.  But they turned into the bottleneck gourds so we are just making bird houses out of them.  They grew in abundance and covered the back fence and were pretty in a messy kind of way.   

The grandkids came over this past weekend  – we’d been planning this for several weeks.  It’s been so darned cold or nasty outside that we only had a few ready.  Once you get them dried enough to hear the seeds shaking around like crazy, they need to be cleaned up.  Then you drill the hole in them and clean the insides.  Then each one must soak for 20 minutes in copper sulfate to kill bacteria, etc.  So we only had a few ready and I sure wish we’d had more because they were anxious to paint!! 

It was a perfect day for this because it was cloudy and rainy outside.  At least it was warm so between coats of paint we did go out and mess around.   They painted them and I hung them by their little strings in the laundry room on clothes hangers to dry.  Brightly colored gourds all lined up on the clothes rod dangling and swinging, bumping into each other, making funny noises, swapping paint spots.    Little ghosties. 

What’s funny about that is one weekend before Christmas I was painting up a bunch of them for gifts and hanging them in there to dry.  I didn’t notice that Rocksey wasn’t going in there at all.  That is where her food and water and bed are when we leave for work and she gets penned up for the day.  By Sunday afternoon I noticed she kept jumping up on the side of the tub and looking longingly (THAT should have been my FIRST clue) into the tub.  I walked by her later and saw her standing at the laundry room door staring at those gourds then eyeballing her water bowl.  She looked like she could use a drink.  (I recognized that look.) 

Then it hit me.  She’s scared to go in there!  I had about 8 lined up drying and to her I think they looked like little ghosties!  I picked her up and showed them to her and went “OOOOOOOO” and she about came unglued.  She had been fine while I was holding them to paint but she didn’t like them swaying around in her “room.”  So I moved them and the second I did, that poor little dog went in there and drank and drank and drank her water.  God, didn’t I feel bad.  Tim said he’d seen her standing in the doorway too looking in but didn’t know what to make of her. 

The kids worked on their gourds off and on all weekend, adding finishing touches and on Sunday Tim made a wooden stand to hang several of them on and took it to their house and put it in their backyard.  It turned out very pretty and the kids seemed very proud of themselves.  I know we were proud of them!  

I can’t wait to get more gourds ready for them to paint.  I want to hang them all over the yard and hope the birds use them for homes. 

 We’re also going to find out if birds like the color RED. 

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