Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Spring Jazz from Nippon (Localrootz HiFi Mix)

Fumio Itabashi
Ryo Fukui
Ryo Fukui
Step Right Up to the Bottom
Naosuke Miyamoto Sextet
Dogs Dance
Miyaska +5 (Animal Garden)
Morning Flight
Fukumura Hiroshi Quintet
Scotland Scene
T. Inomata & Sound LTD
Distant Thunder                                   
MabumiYamauchi Quartet

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Early Spring Drippings 2021


So the spring thaw has begun and the snow is sluggishly changing to mud as the chipmunks scatter and dart around the homestead with a fervor that seems even more substantial than last years abundance. I am foreseeing some gardening challenges in the upcoming season with two solid acorn years and a recent unveiling of garlic cloves scattered about the rockwalls. Really, I thought garlic was a rodent deterrent?  Just yesterday I witnessed a few crows chasing off a hawk in the blue sky above, but the promise of early morning owl calls and abundant fox tracks by the shed gave me some hope that nature will put herself in balance in due time.  

The first real physical work with the exception of the occasional winter shoveling is bucking up blow downs to fuel the maple sap boiling. Our land always has plenty to choose from. The more seasons of this I get under my belt the more deliberate and conscious I have become about factors that help the process. Such factors are using gravity and chilly mornings to my advantage. Having a fairly steep ridge along the northwest side of our property I've found it helpful to start along the top or the ridge and roll the chops down. Someday I may get a heavy duty sled to help this process but haven't wanted to spend the money just yet. I will also say waiting for a chilly morning and then moving the bucked up wood up the side hill around to the fire pit is a must. If that side hill starts thawing then its quite the sideshow of slipping sliding and worrying about a wheelbarrow load of wood rolling back on top of yourself. Lessons learned in prior years, some you will never ever forget. I also have become better with chainsaw maintenance and think after a few years learning the ropes with my entry level echo 16" bar that Im ready for a 20"+ saw. 

Another facet of maple season that I feel I am handling better along with wood selection is placement of the grate along with learning the rhythm of keeping the fire burning at an optimum temp while steadily supplying wood to maintain the rolling boil... I remember years past taking 10-15 hours to boil 20-30gallons of sap. This year I tore through 25 gallons in just about 6 hours. In all we have done two boils of just about 45 gallon of sap thus far with a yield of just under 100oz of syrup. Yesterday was a big drip day though as I collected just under 10 gallons after dinner so I forsee at least one more 20+ gallon boil this week before I wash out the buckets and call it a season and concentrate more on the garden and landscaping projects.

Getting good at hitting the target by mouthfeel but always a good idea to check your work with a proper hydrometer.

I like the idea of the glass bottles for showcasing the glowing color of the syrup and also enjoy the artisan feel of a proper cork seal on the bottles. However some smaller "gift" bottles were prepared that wouldn't accept the cork size so I adapted and hit those with classic bottlecaps.

Im still happy with the original label I designed for our first maple season back in 2016.
Just need to find that template and send it to the printers!

Along with a productive couple of weeks of sugaring I have also taken that inspiration into the Rootcellar Studio and have been working on this Sap Season painting that is slowly progressing!

Even Hazel has been getting in on the Maple Sap drawing, she also made one of her smiling while tasting a spoonful of syrup, and told me she had to draw it because until she tried it again this year she almost forgot how much she loves it!

Spending time in the studio always invigorates me and makes me hungry to create more and more. It also gives me time to thumb through the vinyl collection and after chatting with Oxbow Beer Garden we decided we should get the 2021 deejay season started with a proper Vinyl & Sap session that is happening this coming Sunday, March 28th @ OXBOW BEER GARDEN in OXFORD!

Stop on by for an eclectic set of music and some delicious offerings from my friends at Oxbow Brewing! 

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