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a day about maples

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Saturday was wonderful.  Cold.  But wonderful.  Every year, only 30 minutes from our homestead is a sugar bush (a forest of sugar maple trees that are tapped to make maple syrup) and they have a festival to celebrate.  We went two years ago when we first got here (do you remember this post?) and learned a few things.  1.  It is a mudfest.  We lost a few pairs of shoes the last time and the boys boots were so caked in mud that I nearly tossed them, so rubber boots for everyone!  2. Arrive early or you will have to park in the way back which is pure mud so you will have to get pulled out by the tractor.  3.  Don’t bother feeding the kids breakfast, this festival has a great pancake breakfast which fills bellies.

The sun, the creek and rushing water.  It was all so therapeutic.  Just what this momma needed and we all do love this festival.  Part of living simple is doing things a bit the hard way sometimes.  Its always a good reminder that the “hard” way is nothing compared to what those who went before us had to do daily to survive.  My arms were a bit sore yesterday from the log sawing and I was glad to let Nick take over halfway knowing that I still had lots of work waiting for me at home.  We are in the middle of our own tapping season and have 20 trees tapped but more on that after we get it all boiled down.  Mateo did not mind the mud one bit and I did my best to keep that little boy out of it and clean.  He spent most of the day on my back which truly I treasure every minute.  He is getting to the point of no more baby wearing and it hurts me to think about it.  Luckily, he loves it as much as I do.

So much to do all day,  there was ax throwing, hay mazes, old fashioned maple syrup demonstrations and so much to see.  We got to learn how to make maple sugar from syrup and were able to try it which made my little ones very excited.  The little boys favorite part was the hay ride to the festival from the parking lot and the hayride back to the car.  I was beyond relieved that unlike last time, I did not get our huge van stuck in the mud but of course the little boys had all hoped we would need to be pulled out again…perspective.

We rounded out the day by returning home and checking all the taps in our woods and collecting it all as we do everyday right now.  On average we are getting about 12 quarts of sap per day.  I did tap very late in the season so we did miss the best time for sap but we have been happy to get what we have and boiling day is almost upon us.

Having this blog is such a blessing to me and I hope to you also.  Today I got to read the post from the last time we went to this festival and seeing how much smaller my kids were then was just so bittersweet and so special.

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on the first day of fall

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IMG_7543 IMG_7554 IMG_7568 IMG_7569 IMG_7580 IMG_7582 IMG_7587 IMG_7589 IMG_7595 IMG_7611 IMG_7615 IMG_7629 IMG_7630 IMG_7648 IMG_7649 IMG_7656Yesterday I woke up early.  The birds, I am sure, were still in their nests.  I sat up and realized that Poppa had already gone to work and then the feeling that I should get up since he was up and out in the world hit me.  I had about 2 hours until my early risers would be awake.  What should I do to make today awesome.

Then I remembered it was the day I have been longing for all summer, the first day of fall.  At that moment, I banished all notion of school work and began to put a plan together.  A plan to wake everyone up with the news that we would spend the day together outdoors celebrating this new season.  We are blessed to have many places to spend today but picking pumpkins, I reasoned would be best.

A quick internet search pulled up one of our favorite farms and I then surveyed a few things.  The pantry to see if we had enough food we could take with us to eat there, the pile of laundry to see if I could afford a day away from it and my calendar, in case I was meant to be somewhere else.  When all the possibilities seemed perfect I woke everyone up.  We made quick food, (a yummy lime cilantro dip for raw veggies, sliced cheeses and crackers, a few sandwiches and some cookies and fruit)  filled the water jugs and headed out.  An hours drive with 15 minutes going straight up a steep mountain and we were there.

Mateo has lately developed a love of anything that has wheels, cars, trucks, buses but tractors seem to be really cool right now.  He was so excited to get to ride the hay wagon pulled by a green tractor and it was a little bit of a challenge to get him to sit when he thought he could run around on the back of the wagon.  A few words of love from his favorite sister and we were off to the pumpkin fields.

Everyone picked  a pumpkin and we voted on the best 3 for our porch, table and a pie of course.  Once halloween is over we will put the other pumpkins to use ( I will let you know in a future post our method to preserving the pumpkins so that we can still eat them the day after Halloween.   It makes me sad to see food go to waste so we carve our pumpkins morning of Halloween and then we eat them the next day).  Once inside the farm store we found a few other things like a banana butter which was surprisingly good and I must try to replicate at home.  Everyone got a honey stick and we all planned to go outside to eat and feed the ducks in the pond.  On the way to the door a huge fishtank caught Mateo’s eye and we spent the next 20 minutes glued to the fishtank.  I think I might entertain the idea of getting our own at home because seriously, he could have spent all day there and has not stopped talking about the fishies.

The rest of the afternoon was spent climbing up into haylofts and sliding down big tunnels.  So much fun and I wonder where I could add something like this at home.  That great big tunnel would be so awesome heading down from our upper outdoor deck and purposely pointed towards the steepest side of our house so it could be really far down… I wonder if Poppa would think I’m crazy.  Back to the pumpkin farm.   My farm boys were of course attracted to anything high or made of straw and with a little team work the little boys figured out the fastest way to the top of the rolls of hay.  (Note to self:  these boys needs haircuts)

They all kept to the business of being children, small ones, big ones and really big ones while I kept to my duties as momma of watching and listening and with each passing moment, taking all of this beauty in.  The beauty that comes from this little world of love and partnership we have somehow created or rather been gifted with.  I hope to always remember all that we did on this first day of fall.

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