Today was the latest round of boiling. I lit the fire at about 0800. Before that, I made a quick run in the woods to find standing deadwood. The fire built, it was time to boil. I did things a little different today ... I have been concerned that we are nearing the end of the season in my area. It had not fallen beloew freezing for almost a week. This morning, though, the rabbit water bottles were frozen solid. I am hoping the season holds a bit longer ... we've only boiled down 6 quarts of syrup; we need 12 to make it through the year. Notice that the middle bottles are dark ... I think that this, too, is an indication that the season is nearing the end.
While boiling, I tried my hand, not so successfully, at rock boiling. Perhaps, I had too much sap in the pan and not enough rock. Or, I didn't let the rocks heat enough. Or, I had the pan resting on the damp wet ground. I don't know ... I did get it to steam a bit. This will take more experimentation. I tried a few rocks ... one became very brittle and fell apart in sheets in the sap (I may now have some blanks for stone tools), the other two did not break in the same way, but did crack after a while. Better luck next time!
As I worked, I tried to make a set of thongs by carving the belly of a stick and bending the wood over. I carved too deep ... the stick broke instead of bending. So, next time, I will not carve so deep and I will steam the wood before trying to bend it. Additionally, I cut a few pieces of grapevine to play with basket weaving ... another skill I have no experience with. These seem a little too brittle too ... perhaps they need to be soaked in boiling water or steamed.
I believe that it is wonderful to learn. I also believe that unapplied knowledge is useless and that the best way to learn something is to do it. I tend to learn more from my mistakes so I am not too disappointed overall.