Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Joey tapped our trees around February 23 and the sap has been flowing heavily.  After filling a few gallon buckets within the first few days, Joey decided to scrub out our rain barrel to store the sap.  He got 55 gallons of sap to fill the rain barrel.

He then built a make-shift evaporator in our backyard using cement blocks and the metal grill from our charcoal grill.  He filled a granite wear tub with sap and built a hot fire under it, and watched it boil.  All. Day. Long.  By the late evening, the sap had boiled down enough that he could fill 3 soup pots and boil it on the stove top.  This method is not recommended.  It causes the humidity in your house to rise considerably, and is especially not advised if you have wallpaper.  Since we don't have any wallpaper in our house, all the windows formed condensation instead, and our dry skin got a break from dry winter air.

Over two days of boiling we got about 7 pints of maple syrup.  

Trees tapped along the street.

In this new year Joey has learned a new skill: making pancakes.  He has also learned how to make pancakes while I am sleeping and bring them to me in bed.  He makes an awful mess in the kitchen, but it makes the house smell good, and the pancakes are tasty.  For now, I can't sample our maple syrup since it is not pasteurized so I've been covering my pancakes with peanut butter and raspberry jam.  Baby doesn't mind though.  After eating pancakes for dinner the other night, he was kicking and moving as if he appreciates pancakes as much as his papa.

When Joey was little (like two or three), his family went on vacation.  And every day when they ate at a restaurant little Joey ordered pancakes.  After about a week of pancakes, his mom decided he had had enough and ordered him something else instead.  When that meal arrived at the table, Joey looked around quizzically and asked, "Pancakes coming?"  I don't know if he got pancakes that day or his mom made him eat what she ordered, but it's good to know that something as simple as a plateful of pancakes can make my husband happy.  He makes me happy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

From Sheep to Skein

After many, many months of impatiently waiting, our wool has finally come back from the woolen mill!  What was once growing on our funny little sheep's backs, has now been turned into yarn!  Joey got home from work before me and found the giant cardboard box in the mail.  He probably wouldn't want me to tell you this, but he told me later that he actually yelled for joy in the kitchen when he realized what was inside the box.  He had to text me a picture right away with the caption, "Our sheep made this."  Pretty exciting stuff after almost 3 years of being shepherds.

Joey was worried that it would turn into a big tangled mess if we left it as it came in the box, so he started twisting all the skeins that night.

Here they are in the natural color of the sheep's wool.  They will need to be washed again since the spinning process adds a little grease to the wool that has to be removed before we can dye any of the yarn.

Joey's birthday is tomorrow, so I went to the store and bought a bunch of stainless steel stock pots, measuring cups, and slotted spoons so we can start playing with the wool dye that my dad gave me for Christmas.  I'm sure most men would not be thrilled to receive cooking pots to dye wool for their birthdays, but I am glad I am married to a man who thinks producing a beautiful product with your own hands is pretty cool.  He's got to counteract his wool dyeing this weekend with big manly bonfires and boiling down sap into maple syrup.  Plus, he's got a giant beard that sticks up for his manhood when he's playing with yarn. It's the dream of the 1890's.  (Ever watch Portlandia?  Cracks us up.)


I think we will dye about half of the yarn and leave the other half natural and see what sells better.  Some people may want the natural wool or they may want to play around with dyeing it themselves.  Between wool dyeing and sap boiling for maple syrup, it is sure to be a messy weekend.  We are very proud of the wonderful things we are producing from our very own backyard. 

***After washing and dyeing the wool, we will be selling some in a local yarn store and some on our Etsy store.  There is a link to our Etsy store on the right side of the blog page if you would like to check out our yarn.  Also, if you are interested in something specific, leave me a message on the blog!***