Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Picking Up Speed

I planted peas today...

...And then, my daughters and I went into the woods to gather wood for what may be the last maple sap boil we do this year.

It's been a very bad sugaring season, and I feel a bit sad for the people who count on the sugaring season for their livelihood. Either they won't make it until the next season, or those who are interested in real maple syrup will be paying a premium for it.

We're looking at our maple syrup right now like it's gold. Word to the wise: if you like maple syrup, buy it now, and buy a lot, because it's going to be in short supply by Christmas.

We did some general cleaning, organizing and rearranging of the yard today, too, and when Deus Ex Machina got home from work, we opened the beehive. The bees did not survive. Deus Ex Machina thinks they froze to death. They definitely didn't starve, as there was a ton of honey. We haven't decided, exactly, what we want to do with it, yet.

A Sacred mead is a possibility - or we may just store it for eating. It has a very dark color and a very interesting aroma. I can't wait to taste it. Looking around my yard and at my neighbor's yards, it looks like they certainly had a very interesting and varied diet. The flavor of the honey will reflect that, I'm sure.

It was sad looking into the hive and seeing the devastation. So sad. We're going to try again with bees that were raised in this area instead of imported from an aviary down south. We're hopeful that they will stand a better chance of surviving winter here.

We might have two pregnant does. We'll know in a couple of weeks. EJ, our buck, is a happy bunny tonight ;).

We've been living this homestading lifestyle for a long time. It's what we do, and I share our adventures freely here on my blog. I talk about other stuff, too, but mostly it's planting this or growing that or raising this other thing.

I read a lot of homesteading blogs, but I read many others as well, and some of my favorite blogs are focused on the slow decline of our economy and our current way-of-life. Most of them are edgy and dark, but mostly the things they have been warning us about for the past six years are, indeed, happening.

James Kunstler is one of those - edgy, and usually right on the money. His usual commentary is full of raw wit and keen observations about the State of our Union and our world. His prose is often biting, no-holds-barred, and when he really gets going, nothing in the political or socio-economic realm is safe from his scathing remarks. I'm not usually offended, but had to take a step back the one time he talked about visiting Maine and had nothing complimentary to say about the people he encountered in my home State.

He usually posts once a week - on Monday - and I look forward to reading what he has to say each week. I was late this week reading his blog and didn't get to it until a day later. Boy, was I surprised!

Instead of his usual political bashing, his post was about his preps - what he's growing, how he's preparing his property for what's-to-come.

All I can say is that it was a little unsettling to read James Howard Kunstler's gardening post, and I'm thinking he must believe things are headed much faster down the slope than he's been predicting. Given his sudden interest in prepping, it seems, perhaps, that he believes the crash is accelerating.

I planted peas today, and tomorrow we're going to boil down all of the sap that we've collected. Deus Ex Machina says he's going to leave the taps in for another few days, but if the sap isn't flowing (and looking at the weather forcast for the next two weeks, it probably won't), he's going to pull them.

We cleaned up the yard, harvested quite a bit of honey, have two potentially pregnant does, and pick-up our first dozen broiler chicks on Friday.

The Johnny Seed order arrived in the mail the other day, and as soon as it warms up a bit more, we'll start planting seeds.

While we were in the woods, we saw a flock of wild turkeys. That was odd, too, as I've often seen their prints, but never the birds themselves. We also saw deer tracks.

I think it's going to be a wild summer, and while we won't step-up our preppig effort any more than usual, we'll certainly be looking to expand our knowledge base.

I'm thinking, I might learn to fish from the beach ... and maybe take advantage of the law in Maine that allows individuals to own a lobster trap for personal use (i.e. non-commercial).

Me, lobstering. Heh. Could be fun.

Edited to add: Lobstering in Maine is a heavily regulated fishery, but lawmakers have expanded the law to allow RESIDENTS to catch lobster non-commercially. It's not as simple as throw a trap, and like all hunting/fishing in Maine requires a license, but if one is looking for food security and one has the time and motivation, it would not be a bad hobby. It still requires a license (and one must take a test), but then a recreational lobster-er can own *UP TO* five traps. The license is $65, and there are requirements for minimum size and gender (can't take egg-bearing or v-notched lobsters, for instance), but it looks like it could be a year-round hobby (unlike hunting, which has a "season"). One lobster per week would more than cover the cost of the license.


  1. I didn't know there was a law in Maine that allows us own one lobster trap for personal use. Hmmm....

    So sorry about your bees. That must be disheartening. I just discovered your blog recently and am looking forward to catching up.

  2. I was also interested to see James Kunstler's post - I've been concerned for awhile that things are moving along faster than expected, and it seems like the confirmations just keep rolling in. Right now it seems to be more motivating than depressing for me, and I'm getting things in motion, but I can't say I'm not hugely concerned all the same.

  3. Just added James Kunstler's site to my favorites list, thanks for the referral.

    I'd just about decided to give up on my veggie growing - drought, higher than normal temps, and bugs, blight and other plant diseases have been taking a major toll on my harvests. Then, yesterday, my husband told me of the TV report of food price increases - so I inventoried my seeds and am planning on more plantings.

    We can only control so much money going out and food is our major expense. This is where we concentrate on saving. We think it's going to get worse before it gets better, if it ever does.

    Oh yes, Florida strawberry farmers have had a bumper crop this year so prices are down - to the point some may not be able to break even and are considering getting out of the business. Hating to take advantage of the situation, but we are going to freeze as much as we have room for.

  4. So, I don't fish and I live on the West coast so excuse the questions... do you need a boat to set the lobster traps? and, can you can lobster meat? SJ in Vancouver Canada

  5. SJ - the law says one needs a "vessel" to set the traps. So, yes, a boat, but not necessarily one with a motor. I've actually heard of one commercial fisherman here who set his traps with a row boat. It's not the way most people would want to do it, but I suppose whatever works, right?

    I have never canned lobster meat. The Maine Cooperative extension gives information about freezing it, but not canning it.

    I think, though, that lobster is one of those dishes that's best fresh. So, I'm not sure it's even something I'd want to try to keep long-term. Besides, if I had a boat and a trap, I would have access to it year-round (although being on the water in January in a rowboat ... brr!), and so there wouldn't, necssarily, be a need for storing it.