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CompostBinsI wrote a few weeks ago about how farming seemed to be about 40% fencing. If you have animals, I think an additional 40% is about poo management. Today, if you haven’t guessed, I cleaned out the chicken coop, changed out the shredded paper under the rabbit cages, and chipped out the area in the duck pen where they spend most of their time at night. All of this was deposited, with a LOT of water, in the compost pile, using a shovel and a wheelbarrow. After all, the bedding is supposed to be absorbent, so it takes a lot of water to get it wet enough to get the composting process started. Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s the evaporator in action. I built it next to a fence so I could tie a tarp over the set-up to keep the rain out, which worked pretty well. You know how you can sit and watch a fire for hours? When boiling down sap, you get to do this and be productive at the same time! Note the slightly wonky block placement. Things moved around a bit with the heat from the fire. Keep an eye on your bricks and your pans or bad things could happen!

If you’ve been following along, then you know that the big new experiment this March has been to make syrup out of boxelder tree sap. You can store your sap in food grade containers for a few days until you are ready to boil, as long as you keep it cool. Fresh sap is like fresh milk. You want to treat it the same way. I happened to have a few 6 and 7 gallon water containers and a root cellar that is currently at 40 degrees, so it was easy to hold the sap for a few days. A food grade 55 gallon drum with a lid and a spigot would be ideal.  Read the rest of this entry »

Here’s what I needed for my set up. Taps, tubing, hammer to place taps (they don’t look like they will fit, but the tree is flexible and they do) and 5/16 drill bit (which I happened to already have).

Sometime last fall, I ran across a reference to making a tree syrup (ala Maple Syrup) from the sap of Boxelder trees. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at making maple syrup. I love the idea of a readily available free sweetener, just out there in nature waiting for me to come along.  However, I figured it was a bucket list item that was going to go unkicked, as Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), the tree from which maple syrup is made, does not grow much west of eastern Kansas.  So when I heard about boxelder syrup, I was stoked. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Kleffner

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