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Posts tagged ‘family’

Adding to the family

Around three weeks ago we adopted a border collie. This year old was found wandering the streets and was picked up. He was passed along from a vet office to a few homes. We adopted him from the Circle of Friends rescue organization.

Aiden is a wonderful dog and full of energy. I think he has medium herding instincts that have made living with cats an experience. It has taken him about two weeks to be able to come up to our oldest cat, Leon, and give him sniffs and kisses. The other two cats have not been as successful but I have every hope that they will be come tolerant.

I had forgotten how much work and how much a of a schedule a border collie requires. Since Seamus, was with us for fifteen years and for the last five he had slowed down immensely he did not require as much attention as far as walking, etc.. Seamus also never really had very strong herding instincts.

Aiden likes to go for long walks but he is not completely leash trained so I have purchased a leader collar. (this has helped a whole lot.) He also likes to fetch his discs and push around a soccer ball. I hope to eventually to work with him to get him to really start doing tricks and long throws with discs.

The best story so far was when we were bringing him home. (It also reminded me that just like kids when dogs are very quite, they might very well be into something they should not…!) As Aiden was riding in the back seat he was going from window to window. We had been at our small group gathering and had received a small container of candy. (We unfortunately, didn’t know that the candy had spilled over. ) Aiden had been very noisy for about fifteen minutes and then was quite. I had assumed that he had tired himself out and had laid down to rest.  A few minutes later, Paul said do you smell peppermint? I did but I couldn’t figure out where the smell was coming from inside the truck. A few minutes later, I heard Aiden munching on something. I unbuckled my seat belt and twisted around until I could reach him. I discovered that he had a root beer candy in his mouth. We can only assume that he had eaten a peppermint earlier.

I can’t wait to see what other stories I will be sharing over the many years we will have with Aiden. I knew that getting another border collie was going to be a lot of work but there will be so many rewards. A side benefit is that I’m getting a lot of exercise. Stay tuned for more stories….

The Maple Syrup Experiment

My husband has always been interested in how they make maple syrup. Over the last few months, he has studied how they do it up north and the type of maple trees that can be used.

During the hunting season, he identified several trees that could be tapped to gather the maple sap.  The type of trees that he discovered that grow here in Georgia was a cousin of the northern sugar maple. The tree’s name is Florida Maple aka Acer barbatum. It grows naturally in Georgia.

For Christmas all he wanted was the equipment to gather and make maple syrup. He was able to find a place up in Wisconsin that sells used taps and buckets. The taps are what are driven into the trunk of the tree to extract the sap. This can only be done when the high temperatures are in the 4o’s and the lows are 32 or below.

Two weeks ago the conditions were just right to gather the sap so he went down to the woods and inserted the taps into the trees and attached the metal buckets to collect the sap. He was expecting that it would take several weeks to gather enough sap to make it worthwhile to boil down and make syrup. To his surprise within less than a week he had over 12 gallons of sap ready to be processed. (This meant that we had maple sap in our freezer, refrigerator and our spare refrigerator.) Since he worked most of the week, he had to go down into the woods in the dark to check his maple buckets. He said it was hard work carrying 5 gallon buckets out of the woods in the dark with only a flashlight.

Last Sunday, he decided he had enough to begin the boiling down process. He had bought lids to go on pint glass jars that I had bought years ago thinking I would can. He also bought a kit to help him in the canning process. He began the slow processes by using my turkey roasting pan on the grill and slowly adding sap to the pan as it evaporated the water from the sap. He was at this all day on Sunday for about eight hours. He still had more sap to boil down which he did on Monday.

It took longer than usual to boil down the contents on Monday because of a snow/ice storm that hit the Atlanta area. As the quantity began to get reduced he started to boil some of the sap inside the house on the stove. The one problem was that it build steam up into the house so he had to open up the doors and windows to let the steam out. The positive out of this process was that the whole house smelled like maple syrup, mmm…

Finally, around four o’clock that afternoon, he was ready to add the syrup into the hot Ball jars to store them for future use. (You have to boil the jars to sterilize them and get the ready to seal the lids.) The final product yielded a little less than three-quarters of a quart. The sap is mostly water so it takes approximately 40 times the amount of sap to produce syrup.

Was this experiment a success? I think so for several reasons. My husband was able to actually make syrup. It was a little thinner than what you can buy in the store but that could have been because we should have let it boil down a little longer. It was good tasting syrup. It was another thing that you can say that I made myself like they used to do back in the days of old.

It was not a success if we were looking to save money. The time it took to gather the sap, boil it down and bottle it took probably a total of almost two days of time.  The yield was not very great. When many people heard what my husband was doing they asked if they could have some. There really wasn’t much to share on what was the final product. The verdict is still out if this will be something he will do next year. For this year, he is going to try one more time and see if he can make it any easier on himself. Time will only tell if this will become a hobby or just an experiment.

Happy New Year

Well it’s New Year’s eve and I have been reminiscing a lot over the last few weeks. Growing up, we had a few traditions that really took hold of my heart. In reflection today, I noticed that all of these traditions had to deal with food and having patience. My sister and I were not allowed to drink soda/coke /pop (depending where you live) that often nor were we allowed to eat junk food.  We always thought our parents were unfair when all of our friends were allowed these goodies.

Instead, we were only allowed these drinks or foods on very specially occasions. We were given cokes on Christmas eve when we had chili with our dinners. (I think these stemmed from when our paternal grandparents would share Christmas with us. The only other time we were allowed a coke or soda was when we had to go and stay at my mom’s office. My mother was a professor at Emory and occasionally either because we were sick or there was no one to watch us we were taken to her office to sit while she taught class and given a coke in a glass bottle.

We were given junk food especially chips and dip only on New Year’s eve. My family would eat a New Year’s eve dinner and then after 9:00 p.m. the junk food would be placed on the coffee table in front of the college football game that was on the t.v.

Though out the year, I would crave chips, dip and cokes but knew that I could not partake until that special occasion. What this taught me was patience and the enjoyment of waiting and anticipating something that was oh, so good. I would not trade that experience for the world since it kept me healthy and made those occasions truly special to me. Why else would I long for those days and think of the occasions when partaking those special foods and drink today? I hope your New Year is a happy and blessed one. I also hope that you have childhood traditions that you can pass down to someone else or share with a sibling like I can.

Keeping the tradition alive

I have been hearing a lot of dialogue about the decline of hunting in America. There are those that really don’t care that there are fewer people out there hunting. What they don’t understand is that it is the hunter and fisherman who through their buying gear and licenses they support conservation. In fact, they are probably provide the greatest funding to conservation in America today. The Atlanta Journal Constitution covered an article addressing this issue.

As being a female hunter, I am one of the groups that is a fast growing segment in this old tradition. I think women hunt for different reasons than men. Most often we hunt to share an experience with the men in our lives. This year, I was able to see many daughters and wives get their first deer. As I have written before, I hunt for the experience of being outside and the variety of things that I can observe. Harvesting a deer is a side benefit that I get which feeds my family and friends. Many people I know are always asking me for some venison.

This year, I was able to see my first pair of bucks sparing in the woods. They were young bucks but it was fun to watch them for twenty minutes or so. I was also lucky enough to see woodpeckers mate. I have never seen that before and it was very interesting to see.

Finally, I was able to harvest a nice six point buck. I was very proud to take this buck because I had wanted to place a stand in this part of the woods where I have seen deer move through over the years. I hunted for a little over a week before seeing this guy. I did see a bigger deer a week or so before but could not get a shot. The deer came right up the hill in front of my stand and was watching me. The six pointer walked to the right of my stand and walked down the hill. I had a split second to decide to harvest him and after missing him the first time was able to take him the second time I tried.  There are few weeks left in the season but I don’t have any hope in getting anything else. I will have to wait eleven months until I can’t get back into the woods to sit in the cool weather. I hope I can see more women out there next year.

A Family

The boys- minus Boots

Well our family has grown by two.  We have two new cats, Boodle (Kitten Kaboodle) and Boots.  These two have been hanging around our property for the past four months but it wasn’t until about a month ago that they came close to the house.  I was calling Leon, our Bombay cat, when Boots came bounding up to the back door. It was obvious that he was not getting anything to eat other than what he could catch. It was also obvious that he was at just about a year old.  A few days later, his litter mate, Boodle began to come close to the back door. Boodle would disappear for a few days and then show back up. Paul and I suspected that someone had taken him in so we were cautious of feeding him. After a few weeks it became obvious to us that they were not being taken care of by anyone so we began to talk about adopting them.

Now most people will tell you that dogs and cats do not get along. This is especially said about Border Collies. Seamus, as I have posted before, is sixteen years old and has become crotchety.  I was hesitant about adopting two cats but I had hopes that he would accept them. It was rough the first few days because the cats especially Boodle loved to go up and greet Seamus.  They have come to an agreement about space issues. When Seamus goes out Boots and Boodle both go up and say hello to him. They have begun to watch him when he goes out and make sure he doesn’t wander away. It is similar to Leon’s role in Seamus’s life. (See My Brother’s Keeper)

I look forward to many stories and fun times with our new editions.

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