Monday, March 14, 2011

Sap Success and Auction Fail

We ventured to Ikea last week. I never lived by an Ikea until we moved to Germany. I had been to one once before my freshman year of college to pick up some basic things but that was it before Germany.  Because we lived close to one in Germany and we needed a lot of 220 lamps and other things to accommodate our home there, we went to Ikea fairly regularly.  I did not realize how strongly I associated Ikea with Germany until I went there last week. First of all, this one seemed a lot smaller and the restaurant was not nearly as nice.  But what I noticed most was that I kept anticipating to hear and read German.  And it almost surprised me every time I heard English.  I guess Ikea will always be German (yes, I know it is Swedish) or European to me and the one in Pittsburgh is not nearly as nice as my "home" Ikea in Wallau.

It has been a busy and exciting week.  Other than our trip to Ikea, we went up to Jacob's parents last week so Jacob could start cooking the Maple sap he has been collecting to make syrup.  He has taps in trees at his parents and at a friends' up the road.  By the time we got up there the taps had been in about 2  weeks and he estimated he had 40 gallons of sap.  There is a reason pure maple syrup costs so much.  You can only tap trees for a few months ( maybe less) of the year and from that 40 gallons of sap, we got about 2 gallons of syrup total.  You can't just do this on your stove for this amount there is so much moisture when boiling it down, it would eventually ruin your drywall. So, Jacob hooked up a stove out side and collected some very large pots and started boiling.

The weather was crappy.  It was raining and very windy.  He started this process on Tuesday night.  He went outside and checked the sap and refilled the pots every few hours.  By Wednesday morning the weather was not getting better so he decided to build a shack around the stove .  I wish I had pictures of this. It was actually quite impressive. He put it together quickly, it withstood the awful wind and yet made it so he could take it down easily and put it back up again. He said he noticed an improvement of the rate of reduction immediately. He continued to monitor and refill pots every couple hours until Thursday morning when it was all reduced perfectly to syrup.

Yup, that's it.  It is pretty good. We are going to do this process again. I'm interested to see how much more we get. 

Oh, pictures of Aurora. Who wants my blog without those. Well I didn't get any pictures of her helping with this but while we were home we did go to the Farm Auction.  This was one of those things I had high expectations for but it turned out to be a fail.  We called to find out the time and were told the animals start at noon but they do random stuff before that around 11am. That is just my kind of thing plus we thought you could walk around and see the animals before hand so we got there about 11am.  Well, area to see the animals was much smaller than 12 years ago, the last time Jacob went. And it was actually a long platform above the animals.  This is the best picture we could get. 
You can kind of see the stalls below, but no animals. I was planning on taking more pictures but someone told us they didn't allow it…. they were worried about PETA.  All that was in this section were cows and a lot of them. Although I had wanted there to be more for Aurora to see, she was pretty thrilled with this.  She loved just watching them.  She and the cows were talking, they were quite vocal.  We went in to sit down about 11:20 thinking something had to start soon.  After trying to get Aurora to be sit for 1.5 hours, finally at 1pm the auction started. We had almost left but held out.  I was still excited for her.  The stuff before the animals turned out to be all farm stuff or crap, but I have heard sometimes they have cool stuff.  Then came the animals, I was still excited for her. Then, it didn't start as we had excepted. Jacob recalled that they started with the small animals first and moved to the big ones.  We knew Aurora would like chickens and baby goats.  Well they started with the horses.  Aurora liked that and there were not too many of them.  Then they moved to the cows… and there were so many of them.  And we knew it because we saw so many.  The auction process went fast but not fast enough for a girl who was past her nap time, made to sit for over 2 hours now and now sick of cows.  She was say "bye cow" or "go cow" every time another one came in.  We were exhausted too.  So unfortunately, we left not seeing as much as we had thought we would.  But we learned a few things about the auction and will try again.  We did get a bonus on the way out. Aurora and I were waiting by the workers entrance for Jacob to get the car, remember it awful weather and raining, and we were looking at a horse when one of the workers said "Come here mom, I have something more her size" and he led us into a baby goat stall.  Just opened the door right up and let us in. Aurora was nervous to touch them at first but she warmed up and gave them a pet.  She was giggling and thrilled. When I turned around Mr. Helpful was gone.  

I promise I'll include more Aurora pictures in the next post. 

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