Please see the bottom of this page for updates, sale prices, and delivery options.
Eggs, rabbits, maple syrup, and more…
February 2017 was a month for the record books. Unseasonably warm days melted away the winter snowfall and a mid-month rainfall caused flooding in many areas. Not your typical February in Minnesota. The last time it was this warm for this long was in 1981, and I was two.
Fortunately for us here at the homestead the warm weather only caused mild excitement. It prematurely caused the maple trees to start dripping sap. It’s the earliest sap run during my short tenure in the sugarbush. Now I find the maple syrup season is already upon us. I am still working on winter projects, but now must divert my attention to springtime tasks.
I tapped half the maple trees on Wednesday the 15th and evaporated the first batch on Monday the 20th. This year I’m using a Brix refractometer for the first time to ensure I don’t over-boil and waste any syrup. Previously I’d been measuring the temperature only and calling it good when the syrup reached 219 ºF. However, with this tool samples were taken at late stages of the evaporation process to ensure a minimum sugar content of 66 Brix. I’m counting on a lot less wasted, over-heated syrup, which has the tendency to crystallize and require the addition of water and reboiling. The sap sacks and sack holders I use can be obtained by following the hyperlinks, although they’re cheaper at a local farm supply store.
For the second year I’m using the evaporator pan I inherited from my father-in-law. Pictured above, it’s been in their family for three generations. My family makes it the fourth generation. My wife’s great grandpa used this pan back before 1953, when that picture was taken, and I’m using it today. The sentiment, “they don’t make things like they used to” rings true with this evaporator. It’s solid, reliable, easy to clean, and a real work of art. It’s a 60 gallon galvanized steel pan that has seen thousands of gallons of sap reduced to delicious syrup over the years. 2016 reserve stock and 2017 quarts of early-season, light amber (Grade A) syrup is for sale now.
The Black Australorp chicks are almost 16 weeks old now. The juvenile hens, which are also known as pullets, have been off the heat lamps for a several weeks. Last weekend I moved them from the heated brooder to the woodshed-turned-coop with a door to the pasture in which they will, snow having melted, explore the landscape for weeds and insects. I expect to see eggs from the hens as early as mid-April and will make them available for sale immediately.
The chick brooder will receive a makeover and will be repurposed as rabbit colony housing for soon to be acquired Champagne d’Argent’s or another similar meat breed. The Cuniculture plan is to start with one buck and two does and grow the herd into a reliable source of protein to offer for sale to restaurants and markets.
Items available from the homestead will vary seasonally and by demand. Look below for current items for sale and contact me here for delivery options in Central Minnesota and the Twin Cities Metro area.
On sale now:
Maple Syrup. Wood-fired, small batch pure maple syrup – $20/qt
Chaga. Wildcrafted beneficial birch tree fungi. Chunks or ground – $3.50/oz
Available beginning mid-April:
Cage Free, no-soy, organic fed chickens eggs – $6.00/doz (discount for prepay)
Rabbit. Pasture raised, organic pellet supplemented fryers – price per lb TBD
Available in late spring – late fall:
Foraged wild mushrooms – priced by variety per weight as items become available
Organic, non-GMO produce – price TBD