Circle of Life

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Living on a farm it’s very important to teach the kids at the earliest age possible about the circle of life.  We have had many animals that have touched our lives here.  Flash was one of them.  He was a one of a kind rooster for sure and lived a good long life for a bantum chicken.  When he started showing his age last week we made him as comfortable as possible.

His funny personality and antics will be sorely missed, but we are thankful for the 7 years he was a part of our family.

You can see more pictures of our Flashy on my Facebook page here:   Flash

Super Simple Smores Bars

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These are ridiculously easy and so absolutely delicious!  The graham crackers blend perfectly with the chocolate and marshmallows and the brown sugar is almost like a carmel.  Top that with the butter and it is the perfect combination.

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You mix everything together in 1 bowl

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Add the melted butter and break up the graham crackers a bit more while stirring to combine all

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Spread in a well greased (or sprayed) pan and press slightly

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Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes until all is browned and the brown sugar is bubbly

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Let cool or eat warm and enjoy the buttery chocolate gooiness.

After cooled they cut perfectly into bars to store in an air tight container!

Smores Bars

3 cups crushed graham crackers (these do not have to be finely crushed but broken into small pieces)

3 cups miniature marshmallows

3 cups chocolate chips (or you can use half white or butterscotch as well)

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup melted butter

Mix all in a bowl making sure graham crackers are broken up

Spread in a 13X9 greased cake pan

Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes or until the marshmallows and top is slightly browned

Cool and cut into bars. Store in an air tight container

**TIP** you can make these in a 9×9 rectangle pan and they will be thicker

Making Maple Syrup

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We tapped 2 maple trees in our yard this year to collect sap.  This is a super fun project for the kids.  They get off the bus and run to the buckets to see what has dripped in during the day.  This Syrup is the best you will ever have!!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  keep in mind it takes about 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

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In 4 days we collected 6 gallons (after losing a gallon to a bucket falling off the tree because of the wind).

Today I decided to process what we have so we can prepare over the next few days to boil a few more gallons before the season is over.  The best time to collect the sap is when the days are sunny and above freezing temperatures yet the night is below freezing. The season may be short or long.  You will know it’s over when the sap stops dripping from your tree.

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We bring the sap in and pour it through a mesh strainer lined double with cheesecloth.  This filters out the impurities.

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You are left with clear pure sap.  The best way to store it is to keep it in cold temperatures until you are ready to boil it.  I store it in the refrigerator.

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When you have enough to boil, fill the pot and bring it to a rolling boil.  NOTE:  this throws off humidity and will fill the whole house.  I open a few windows and don’t mind the humidity as it feels tropical!

The sap will boil down and each time add more to fill the pot using all the sap you have collected.  I started with 3 gallons in our bucket and boiled 6 gallons over the course of 6 hours.  I also scoop out the foam every once in a while.

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The sap will begin to turn a light amber color.  When you get to this point it’s important to continue boiling until the syrup begins to foam.  That is when you know it’s ready.

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It’s a darker color and will thicken.

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Remove from the heat and strain again through the cheesecloth into your mason jar or container you are using to store it in.

You can cover it tightly after cool and store for up to 6 months in the refrigerator.  You can also can it (I personally have never done that but there are directions all over the internet).

Our 6 gallons yielded 1 pint of syrup but the tween queen had to have a separate container she could eat with a spoon before I could get it all in the jar for a picture!

INSTRUCTIONS:

Collect sap

Strain through cheesecloth and store in the refrigerator

TO MAKE SYRUP:

Fill a large pot with the sap and bring to a boil

When it boils down keep adding the rest of your sap until it’s all in the pot

Continue boiling stirring once in a while and removing the foam when needed

Test to see if it has turned a light amber color after it has boiled down the final time

Continue boiling until the sap is beginning to boil and foam, is darker in color and is slightly thicker

Remove from heat and strain through cheesecloth into the container you are storing it in

Let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months

Winter winds down

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The winter is giving way to spring.  Slowly the snow melts and adds to the little streams which run to the creek.

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The creek is already bursting at the seams and taking over the lowlands of the woods.  Mud on the trails begins to peer through.

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Beautiful old farming equipment is exposed once more still holding onto the secret of how they ended up so far back in the woods and abandoned so many years ago.  These pieces are about 1/2 mile away in an area that is not cleared and is wooded.  I’ve often thought about pulling them out to display at the house but they are a piece of history, our property history, so I leave them to remain in their final resting place and enjoy my walks past them in all seasons.

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Is this the luck of the Irish on display for me today or rather just a gold mylar balloon that somehow passed through the taller trees and ended it’s flight on our trail?

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And on the way back to the house the ice pond is a gentle reminder that Old Man Winter has lost his battle with the newborn spring and is going down slowly.

Let the season begin

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Goodbye relaxing nights and those extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.  You are being replaced with garden “engineering” which includes layout, planning, planting, weeding, working, and non-stop love and care!

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Today’s project was getting some of our late producing vegetables planted.  We did pumpkins, butternut squash, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts and peas.  The kids love to help with this and the tween queen planted a container of Morning Glory, Cosmos and Zinnia.

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And of course there’s always a jokester in the group!!  I knew something was up when the giggling was getting out of control.

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If you saw my garden tip on Facebook, these are the little cups I save throughout the winter to use as planters.  These are lemon ice and yogurt containers.  Poke a few holes in the bottom and they are perfect for starting plants.

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You can store these on a tray with sides and fill with water from the bottom so it hits the roots and nourishes the plant and you don’t have to water each one individually or with a sprayer.  This is a HUGE time saver!

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And now they are gently covered with the sunlight hitting them to begin their growing process.  Fingers crossed they all produce.

Candles

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I always have candles lit in my house.  In the evening with the candles lit all around the house, I feel cozy and the house feels warm and comforting.

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Two years ago I bought my first set of battery operated candles that have a timer on them.  They go on at dusk and shut off after 6 hours. I bought them from a Christmas section in the store for the Holidays.  I have never taken them down.

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I love the soft yellow glow they have all year round.  I replace the batteries about every month or sometimes a little longer.  It’s well worth it to not have to worry about turning them on or off and they look so nice when you drive by the house at night.  It looks like a true country home.

It’s the little things sometimes that mean the most.

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