“We have 4 now”, or how Joe Meatball got his name!

Jo Meatball

My husband, like many husbands, has a way of saying things in less words then I can at any given moment. In this case the text message I would have sent him would have had a few OMG’s and exclamation points, and whatever the text version of squealing with excitement might sound like in a text.  So when my daughter and I were at the kitchen baking granola and received this text it was vintage Dad/Hubby! “We have 4  now” (one isn’t in this picture) was the text and a picture of this little guy with his Mama! Yes a man who is frugal with words…

We finished up our baking and came home to see the cute little guy. When we got this cow, we were told that most likely she was with calf, but clearly there are no guarantees or promises with animals or crops. Fortunately all went well with the birth, thank goodness for instinct. This cow had had 8 uneventful births prior so we hoped that run would continue and to ours and her good luck it did. Hubby had concerns about the little guy being too cold and whether or not he was nursing because he was napping for quite a bit that morning. After a few hours of working on jobs around the paddock area and keeping an eye on the little fellow things starting fitting into place. He was able to encourage the little guy to get up into the barn by his Mama and he seemed to know just what to do in the nursing department. So, lots of worrying but really there were no problems here, nature is beautiful.

My daughter named him Joe, since it fit nicely with the other’s names (Jack and Jill), but then her friend came over and suggested “Meatball” would be a good name. Hubby thought that that was not only a good name but a realistic name, as a friend of mine said after learning the name, “I sense you have a  plan for him”, lol! So in order to keep family peace, this little guy became “Joe Meatball”. My little neighbors thought it was a great name!

snow at the baker's

By the calendar, I know that it is past mid march but it is hard to believe when it just continues to snow and snow. The windchill today is -7, and the first day of Spring is technically tomorrow:)

straining sap

My neighbor and I split up the 4+ gallons of sap that had so far been collected. She was keeping it refrigerated and pooling it each day until it was time to cook it down. Yep it should be cooked over an outdoor wood fire. Yep it should get some of that smokiness into the flavor. Yep it should be stirred constantly. Yep it should not be cooked inside because it creates too much steam. Having said all this, it was zero degrees outside and so I cooked it indoors. Turns out that it does create a lot of steam but I did it in such small batches it wasn’t a problem. It cooked down beautifully and it is the most delicious, sweet, melts on your tongue flavor. The Box Elder syrup is less Maple flavored then Maple syrup, but is definitely Maple tasting. It also has a hard to describe flavor of it’s own as well, it is subtle and tastes like you are eating something very special. I used cheese cloth to strain it and below I show the cooking process and the final beautiful golden syrup.

cooking sap 1

cooking sap 2


Since after a few days of collecting it got quite cold and the sap stopped running, we still have quite a bit more time to collect on the next warm up. I am hoping to get about 16+ ounces. Next year I would like to invest in more then my current 5 buckets/lids and spiles and have about 20 buckets of my own hanging. This was a great learning experiment!

windy snow

The winds today and yesterday have been strong and gusty. Some up to 45 miles an hour, leaving the landscape swirled, and rippled, with patterns in all directions. It’s hard to believe these fruit trees will be full of blossoms and surrounded by beautiful spring green grass in a couple months. My favorite green of all is the color of grass in late Spring/Early Summer. This is usually first seen when out driving in the late Spring. Right along the edges of the barns where the snow has melted away the first blades of bright green grass come up and contrast themselves against the red of the barn. It’s an anticipated moment and a reminder that despite the crusty snow and constant chill that Spring truly is around the corner. Can you tell I’m ready?

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