How to know when it is time to tap maple trees

I recently met up with my buddy, Yannick, owner and head maple guy over at Erabliere des Anges, to catch up over coffee and discuss the upcoming sugaring off season.

He’s been running a small, family-based, organic sugarbush a few hours North of here for the past 2 years; we tapped 5 trees last year. This is all-consuming for him at this time of the year; we lose access to our stovetop in the evening for a few weeks. We both have day jobs to pay the bills. He knows much, much more about maple syrup than I ever will.

I mentioned that we think we missed much of the season last year because we tapped our trees too late, and so we began discussing (more like him teaching) about the ideal time to tap, and what to look for. [Read more…]

Homestead Winters

If you heed the advice in the adage, “you need to make hay while the sun shines”, you had better make sure that your tractor is up to the task during the wintertime.

The truth is, that unless you have a greenhouse or indoor garden, there isn’t a lot that you can do on the homestead in the winter other than to plan ahead for the next year and make sure that your equipment is running in tip-top shape.  Here is what we are planning for in these cold, dark days of winter. [Read more…]

Favourite fall photos to conclude the season

It’s all going to be snow and shortbread from here on in, so I thought I’d share a glimpse of our fall around the homestead in a few favourite photos.

Besides, most of you are deep in kitchen prep for Thanksgiving. Rather than cram in one more recipe or entertaining tip, these images will be here if you need a short break from the stove.

You got this, right? The turkey tutorial. The tip for leftovers. The stuffing. The sprouts. The best pumpkin pie ever. Good. Now get in there and cook!

[Read more…]

Long weekend projects and garden shed plans

It’s the start of a long weekend here in Canada, and that means 2 things: visiting (eating) with family and getting yard projects crossed off the list. Yay!

Previous projects have included a fire pit, a chicken coop, compost bins, our raised beds and installing rain barrels. Removing a wind-fallen tree was not a planned project, but we got it crossed off the list nonetheless.

It seems like we’ve gotten all the easy tasks out of the way, and so the next ones are going to require a little more planning: a new back deck or a garden shed.  This weekend, we’re probably going to tackle the planning of the garden shed. [Read more…]

5 things I won’t do in my garden again

I‘m not sure if I’ll ever consider myself to be a gardener, but each spring I can be found hunched over a pile of dirt, dropping spinach seeds into a shallow trench, and daydreaming of an early salad crop.

If I was a real gardener, I probably would have dug the remaining carrots last fall and stashed them in my cold storage. Instead the boys uprooted them yesterday, and set aside half a bucket of rubbery orange specimens to offer the hens for snack.

I like to think that back in autumn I would have made the effort to turn the compost one last time, or put away the wire trellises, or at the very least, rolled the hose. Alas, the last of the snow melted this weekend, leaving behind the evidence of a very distracted -and hardly dedicated- gardener.

[Read more…]