Tuesday, March 18, 2008

 
I’ve been spending a lot of my time lately at the house playing garbage man. The subcontractors generate huge amounts of trash, everything from sawdust dunes to piles of cardboard boxes and cartons. And none of that seems to bother them. They don’t mind slogging through trash underfoot, or tossing something away only to start a cascade from the overloaded trash barrels all over the floor.

When I was running scenery construction shops, the common practice was to do a big end-of-day cleanup: sweeping the floors, putting all tools away, storing materials in their proper places, and taking the trash out to the dumpster. The construction and paint floors were left clear and clean for the start of the next workday. I wasn’t comfortable if every time I moved one of my feet something went crunch.

I’m also dividing all the scrap wood between the shorter bits to be used as kindling in the wood stoves and for boiling down the maple sap, and the longer lengths that I can salvage to build the workbenches in my studio. I should have just enough for the studio job; there’s probably about three years worth of kindling coming off that hill.

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I left a comment on Alex’s blog The Great Cock Hunt last Friday and got this as the verification code: vkrak. It seemed appropriate somehow.

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The kitchen counters were being installed this morning. They’re Silestone, very attractive in a rich, warm, creamy brown with crushed bits of granite and other stone captured in resin. However only half got put in because the general contractor had neglected to do the final work of leveling the area around the soapstone sink, and hadn’t constructed a strong enough support for the counter over the area in which the dishwasher is to be installed.

So, another delay, although a short one I think. Otherwise more finish carpentry is being done and hardware is going onto doors. It’s getting closer and closer.

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Fritz and I are processing maple sap as fast as we can. This is a bumper crop year. I think we’ve taken 150 to 160 gallons from the trees and they’re not slowing down.

Last night we got out two very big stock pot/spaghetti boiling pots and drained the evaporator of several gallons of proto-syrup. It has to be reduced further on the kitchen stove, then strained and put into jars. We couldn’t keep reducing it in the evaporator because we had another 65 or so gallons ready to start boiling down and no place to put what was coming relentlessly from the trees.

I’m hauling fallen branches and trees out of the woods to cut and feed into the boiler. If you try to make a business out of it, maple syrup isn’t a good one. It’s very labor-intensive and the cost of wood by the cord in today’s market would cut steeply into any profits. Fortunately we have piles of 2x4, x6, x8, x10 and x12 scrap from the house construction to feed the fire and as much hard wood as we can pull out of the woods. I have no idea yet of our total production, but four gallons wouldn’t surprise me—maybe more.

Comments:
Thanks for sharing your maple syrup making experiences. Wish I could join in. Now that you have moved part of the operations indoors will your kitchen wallpater survive?
 
Four gallons sounds like a whole lotta maple syrup to me, but I've heard that a gallon of it disappears every time you have a bunch of guys over for a party. And yet, no pancakes, waffles, or French toast is served. One wonders what it gets poured over.
 
Making your own syrup is so wonderfully New England. It sounds fabulous, and I'm sure my other half would be into it in a big way if we lived in your neck of the woods.

Down here on Long Island, he spends more time on things like making strawberry preserves from berries we get out east.
 
Labor intensive? Pour pail into vat and start fire. Sounds pretty simple to me ; )
 
you two never cease to amaze me in all that you do! It is fun to read about them/you. I spend my time trying to catch up and work, so I envy you.
Keep up the activities!
 
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