harvest Feed

Spring Sugaring

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Maple 8Another season of small scale spring sugaring has come to a close.  Today I finished boiling down the sap I have been collecting.e.   This year was not the greatest season I experienced, but bountiful enough to continue the experience and reap the harvest.  We had an early warm spell that accelerated the swell of the buds, when we had a longer stretch of good sap collecting weather (below freezing at night and above freezing during the day), the buds warmed up enough to "pop."   When this happens the sap gets a bit cloudy and it can subtly affect the taste of the syrup.  This too is when the tree needs the sap to form the leaves.    

I did collect about 20 gallons, which equates to about a full 8-10 hours of boiling.   I was happy with my yield this year - and the time commitment was manageable given other things pulling me in different directions this weekend.

I had opportunity to share what I have learned over my years of small scale spring sugaring with a larger audience as well. Check out my post on mothering.com to learn a little more:

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Harvest of Ice

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We spent a gorgeous winter day at our friends' resort harvesting ice, as has been a mid-winter tradition in our neck of the woods.  We got a wonderful dose of sunshine, we all broke a sweat and shed layers.   Today I am happy with sunburned cheeks and a fun and productive day under my belt.   It is fun to get more involved as my role has changed from children-tender and life guard to ice block hauler.  It was fun to see our children get more involved as well - almost all of them made it the mile ski out to the resort on their own power and they all helped out throughout the day as well.  Fun times with good friends, keeping a fun Northwoods tradition alive.


pumpkining in kindergarten

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Here are a few snapshots from short, busy and fun week in kindergarten.  

In the lesson plans were:  pumpkin investigations!

Monday:  Pumpkin seeds (My garden was generous this year I grew 16 pie pumpkins - and I had a couple donations - so each student was able to investigate their own pumpkin.  I brought home one 5 gallon bucket of pumpkin "guts" for the chickens - and two 5 gallon buckets of cut and seeded pumpkins.

Monday night:  The kindergarten teacher (and husband) roasted pumpkin seeds, the kindergarten teacher also bandaged the blisters that she got from slicing and cutting the tops off of 18 pumpkins.

Tuesday:  Roasting pumpkins.   In class we roasted a crockpot full of sliced and seeded pumpkins throughout the day, sharing with the kiddos one way pumpkins can be cooked.

Tuesday night:  Roasting pumpkins - I had two crock pots going at home roasting pumpkins overnight and during the daytime to make the most of our harvest.

Wednesday: Pumpkin puree and pumpkin smoothies.  In class I showed the kids what part of the pumpkin that we make into pumpkin puree and we celebrated our efforts by making (and enjoying) pumpkin smoothies.

Wednesday night:  Before we went out and celebrated our anniversary, I finished up making pumpkin puree from all of the baked pumpkins.  I was able to put up over 26 cups of fresh pumpkin.  (I freeze it in 2 cup servings in quart freezer bags.)

Another successful year of pumpkining at home and school - done!

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Now I just need to make it through a Halloween on a Monday night.

If you are looking for some pumpkin inspired ideas, check out my recent post on mothering.com:

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::apples!

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Apple season is coming to an end.  I made the most of our local fruit tree harvest....

::in kindergarten - visiting some apple trees near our schoolyard and sharing the experience of making apple sauce in a crock pot during the school day.

::at home - making dehydrated apple rings, canned apple sauce, and (not pictured, but devoured) caramel apple cheesecake.  

 

Yum!

 

 


In the Garden & In the Kitchen - Mid August

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Oh August, a month of abundance!  

This month is delivering an abundance of garden (work and harvest), preserving, gatherings with friends and family -and lots of lake time.   We have been so busy, but in a full, rich and wonderful way.   August, has its moments, but overall it is a wonderful time to be.


::farewell blues

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IMG_3887Our wild blueberry season is coming to a close.  Today we hiked up our ridge so see how many more we could gather.  The past few weeks we have come down with at least 2 quarts a picking, but today returned with just over a cup.

It has been a bountiful season and our foraging efforts have paid off.  As we have close to 5 gallons of wild blues in our freezer!

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We are grateful for blueberries - the homemade jam that will accompany our peanut butter sandwiches, the frozen berries that will add flavor and nutrients to our morning smoothies and oatmeal - and of course the memories that accompany sharing these experiences as a family.
 

 


herbs, ketchup, peppers and pizza

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I had a productive afternoon in the garden, kitchen and pantry.   I harvested some herbs to use and to dry.   When I was tidying up and taking inventory in our pantry I found some hiding pickles, salsa and canned tomatoes from last season.   I decided to use up our canned tomatoes to make some ketchup - a family favorite, especially in the summer when we do a little more grilling.   I also ground up the peppers I dried last fall so they are a little easier to use.

 The season of harvesting, preserving - and enjoying the garden's bounty has officially began!

 

 

I spent a good part of a rainy day yesterday in the kitchen and pantry drying herbs, making ketchup from the last of our canned tomatoesI gathered my big first harvest of herbs.  I collected some basil, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano and chives.  After those were washed and drying I decided to go through the pantry, where found our last jars of pickles and four jars of home canned salsa that were overlooked in all


 


::June blues

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I just had a feeling, given the heat and humidity the last couple of days, that I just may find some ripe blues in my backwoods, ridge-top, early ripening berry picking spot.  

And I did!  This afternoon I was able to harvest my first handful of wild blueberries of the season.  It looks to be a good year!  With just a few more hot, sunny days I will be harvesting these berries to make into blueberry muffins, pancakes cakes and jam -and- to save in the freezer to enjoy over the winter in smoothies and on oatmeal.

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the buckets are up

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This morning the boys and I drilled 9 holes and attached 9 buckets to some schoolyard - (and close by the school) maples to collect sap for Spring sugaring.  The sap was not flowing in the morning, but by the end of the day it had started on a couple of the trees - a sure sign of spring!

We are looking forward to another year of sugaring as a family and I am looking forward to sharing this activity in class with my kindergarten students!


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Pumpkins

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Yesterday I bit the bullet and purchased two carving pumpkins for pumpkin shenanigans.  I was tempted just to encourage our kiddos to paint the pie pumpkins and hat we grew in the garden, but decided those pumpkins would be better baked and used for baking goodness.  The compromise however was two pumpkins, rather than four - and some "cooperation" with gutting design and carving.  The experience was not as quiet as projected in the images above.  There were some squabbles and screams, but also smiles, giggles and sibling collaboration.  In the end, we were all happy to have a couple jack-o-lanters to light up our evening - and I am happy to have some of these memories to hang onto of their childhood.