Monday, 25 April 2011


The other project I'm working on is making a chicken coop. So far I've only cleared the area for it and grabbed some scrap 2x4's from the dump.

There's an old dog run on the property that we are using, but we'll have to re-make the fence to make it predator proof. I might turn Niska's house into a portable coop for the layers next year and keep the meat birds in the one we build this year.

Spring means bird migrations. Smithers lies on the flyway for sandhill cranes. Our place gets constant flybys during this time. Flocks of hundreds pass every few hours for about a week. Here's some catching photos near our yard.

Sugar Shack

I haven't posted yet. However, now that the semester is over, I'm hoping to have more time to do fun things on the computer. Here's some things that I have been up to lately. I'm not sure if it fits the motif, but trees are plants and they have shoots... right?

I miss fresh maple syrup. I found a few small stands of Douglas maple (Acer glabrum) while on the way back from a snowshoe up our local mountain (Literally. 3 minute drive to trailhead).

Here's the set up.I only tapped 5 trees, but only 4 really produced. 9/16'' drill bit with 1/2'' tubing running to milk jugs. There's some leakage, so I will likely get proper spiles next year to make things more efficient.

Douglas maple is way less efficient than sugar maple, but much better than birch. The ratios are something like 18:1 for sugar maple, 35:1 for Douglas maple and 100:1 for birch. Keep in mind birch produces much more sap than the rest. At any rate, you need to collect a lot of sap to make this worthwhile.

To date I've collected roughly 31 L of sap. Almost enough to make 1L of syrup. I started boiling this down yesterday. I started on the gas burner on the BBQ, but elected to use a fire. It's pretty smoky, but the temperatures are a lot higher.

This was what remained of the first 19L after about11hrs of heating. Still some ways to go, but it went much faster over the fire.

You need need to boil until the sap reaches 4 degrees above boiling temperature (about 102 C) for Smithers.

Here's the final product.

A few things I would change.

- I need a better filter than cheesecloth. There's some impurities that I couldn't get out, but they ended up in the smaller jar.

- A much larger fire. I was using junk wood from around the property. I would probably use the pine we use for the woodstove next time. It's a much hotter fire.

- Spiles to limit leakage.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sunday, 3 April 2011