Dribs and Drabs

By , March 22, 2016

My life seems bound by dribs and drabs lately. Much of what occupies me at the moment centers around the flow of liquids, many of which trickle when I wish they would flow.

After our success with birch wine last year, I anticipated using all the available sap this spring to make a whole lot more. In previous years, we’ve had so much sap we gave bottles of it away to neighbors (see “Moonshine”). I expected the same this year, and geared up for a lot of wine and juice making (we like to reconstitute fruit juice in birch sap instead of water for a spring tonic).

So far, the copious flow of sap has not occurred. I tapped the dooryard birch and waited about a week for several inches of sap to accumulate in the bottom of the tap jug. In case that tree had simply tapped out (as it were) I drilled another tree on the property, and set another collection there. It filled slightly faster, but neither shows much progress (see Tap, Tap, Tap...).

This year we’re not getting prime tapping weather. Ideally, we should have nights just below freezing, and days in the 30s or low 40s. Instead, our overnight lows hit the low 40s! A day or so ago, we got a full sunny day. Both taps yielded more sap than before, but only briefly. I’m beginning to wonder if the sap rise has more to do with the amount of daylight? We’ve just passed the Vernal Equinox, both local and “official.” This brings us closer to the normal time of the season I tap. I started a bit early this year because it’s been so warm.

I’m also distilling water these days. We distill our own water to top off our battery bank after equalization. I do this with our juicer on the wood stove. In the past, I’ve performed this chore in winter, when we run the wood stove hot most of the day (see If It’s Chilling, I’m Stilling). I got lax this year, and ran out of water on the last equalization. Now I’m playing catch up.

Unfortunately, it has been warm, as I say. We’re on the shoulder of the heating season right now. We generally have a small fire in the morning, and another in the evening. A few days, we’ve lit no fire at all. The distilled water comes in a trickle from day to day. The task progresses slowly, and inches inevitably toward petering out.

Elsewhere, the steady drip of water through our new water filter, while slow to watch, accumulates quite well, thank you! (See Water, Water Everywhere!)

Finally, I opened the creek diversion to fill the summer water tank. There’s a proper flow! Within a day, the tank had filled to overflowing. There, at least, we have all that we need.

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