Sunday, March 4, 2012

It Was A Good Day!

The last week, or so, has been busy.  The girls' dance competition season has started adding to the list of things to do.  For instance, knowing that the competition next weekend will basically eliminate sap boiling.  Ordinarily, my MooseBoots journey tends to slow a bit during these crazy busy times, but today, we found ourselves in an uncommon lull in the frantic pace of life.

With an abundance of free time, a relatively small amount of sap to boil, and a very satisfying boil rate, I took my time getting the fire started.  First, I wandered into the woods to gather wood for the fire.  I greeted the woodpecker who was chirping at me, while I looked for fresh tracks in the snow.  I only walked a short way in because the fresh layer of snow is deep enough to wear me out when carrying my normal loads of wood.  I have finally figured out how to gather the wood in a reasonable sized bundle that I can actually carry back.  So, I made two trips.  I was amazed by the amount of wood that I could gather in this one spot that was not more than 10' (3 meters) across.  I didn't even gather all that was there, just enough for the short burn.

When I returned, I decided to try my hand at the bow drill to start the fire.  I haven't really practiced much with it, and not at all in the last 6 months.  I built the fire under the pans ... the wood was slightly damp from the recent rain after the snow.  Everything went fairly well until I broke the notch in the hearth ... no coal.  At that point, I gave up and used a match.  Note To Self:  play with the bow drill more often!

The burn only lasted about 3 hours to boil the 20 gallons of sap down to about 1 gallon (3.8 liters).  While I was tending the whole thing, an old friend stopped by with some barrels.  Wendy wants to plant more containers this year, in addition to all of the existing garden beds and buckets.  It was very kind, and unexpected, of him to deliver them.  It was nice to get to spend a few minutes chatting with him. 

When the pans got low enough, we brought the sap into the house to finish.  Less than an hour later, we had another beautiful 1.75 quarts (2 liters) of dark amber syrup to add to our stores.

After cleaning up, I went back to check on the Blue Oyster Mushrooms.  Earlier this week, I noticed that they are fruiting.  Today, they were much bigger.  By this time next week, I think I will have harvested the first harvest from the bag.

You may have noticed the cardboard box under the bag in the picture.  I put it there to catch any spore that may fall.  First, I don't want to "seed" the carpet.  Second, I am hoping to catch the spore to start a new batch.  Wendy and I have discussed the idea of innoculating some of the hardwood stumps around the neighborhood.  I don't know if it will work, but like everything we do, we are playing with ideas and techniques, experimenting to see if we can learn what works and what doesn't.  Worse case, we don't succeed and we lose a bit of time.  Best case, we sprout more Blue Oyster Mushrooms than we can possibly eat and we share with all of the neighbors.  Oh, by the way, the two pictures were taken a mere 3 days apart.

I am grateful for days like this ... for the beauty around me, for the abundance the Earth offers, and for the opportunity to share this, my MooseBoots path, with my amazing family and wonderful friends.  May your day be filled with beauty, happiness, joy, and the wisdom to recognize it even in their smallest forms.


  1. Looking good, Eric! That large clump in the photo will be ready to pick by Wednesday, probably! Better get the frying pan ready :D

  2. Julie, that is precisely what we were thinking! We were planning to simply fry them up in butter. Would you recommend anything else?

  3. WOW - 3 days! I didn't realize they would go that quickly once things started going. Great to know! And great tip about the box. I'm hoping that when we move there will be some options for doing a few things around the house or neighborhood along these lines too.

  4. Melonie, I've read that each day they double in size. I'm not sure the box is a tip ... it hasn't worked yet ... I am just playing with concepts.


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