Well I screwed up the onions, and my pea plants may be growing a little too quickly for the amount of snow we have piled up outside! Anyhow, since I last planted my onions I have learned that you really want to plant onions in a flat so that they grow almost tight together like grass. When you are read to transplant you then pull each little onion start out of the flat. Its painstaking work but supposedly good. We will see and I may have to get some sets as well, just incase. My older seeds of parsley and pansy’s never germinated, so I emptied those pots and figured I would replant something else in them.
So above you can see that I have all these tiny little onion plants, basically one offs in each peat pot. They have lots of room to grow I guess.
I made it out to the store yesterday and picked up a couple more seed trays and some green plastic pots so I can plant the next round of plants. On tap for tonight we planted a new seed packet of pansy’s, lupine, black eyed Susan’s, Echinacea, some cabbage, and some slow bolting cilantro. We will have to see how my next round of seedling starts take off. Due to the polar vortex and deep snow pack I pushed all my seedling start times off a week. Let’s see if it helps! The next round of seedlings.
Well the photo above kind of sums up this past week of sugaring! Nothing has ran since last Sunday February 23rd, 2014. We have been in the freezing tundra of New Hampshire or caught in some kind of polar vortex. Despite the last couple years of unpredictable warm-ups, it is looking like this year will be more of a typical winter and sugaring season. So, I sit here wondering yet again for the 3rd season in a row if we may have tapped our trees to early? Only time will tell, but the reality is tapping last weekend made so much sense, given the warm weather and timing. It’s always easier to put the taps in on the weekend then during the week. We will just have to wait and see, but the freeze up provided for some pretty good photos as we walked the sugar bush this afternoon.
The 10 day, puts any worthwhile sugaring another week away with the first glimpse of sugaring weather occurring on Friday March 7th! It will probably take at least a couple days to thaw us out too!
The sap is frozen like water in the lines and in the buckets. I would estimate 15 or so gallons frozen in the buckets with more in the tubing.
All of the tees are iced up solid from each drop line…
To each end line ring where the tubing terminates into a 5 gallon bucket.
And a drip frozen in time, just before it hits the pool of frozen sap in the bottom of the bucket. Truly wild!
Well we got started on our maple sugaring season yesterday, with 40+ degree weather yesterday, it was time to get the taps in. Thankfully I had lots of energetic help. The boys rounded up the buckets and helped blaze trails through the snowpack!
On our way to tap the first tree with the kids, notice that I no longer need to carry any tools, just an iced coffee for me this year.
Our first tree required a little shoveling of the driveway snow banks before we could reach it, but the warm weather made for easy shoveling.
As you can see the snow got a little deep once you stepped off the well packed down trail to the tree. Lucky for me, I was just the supervisor and all my assistants had the tools we needed to tap this maple tree.
My oldest got to drill his first tap into this maple tree. It’s a little challenging when you have two people driving, but we managed to get it done.
Not to be outdone, it was no time for the younger son, to hammer in the plastic tap. Watch the fingers!
After attaching the tubing to the tap, this red maple is now on the lateral line and dripping sap. Only 40 plus taps left to go…
Sugaring season wouldn’t be complete with out my oldest looking to taste the sap as it flows out of the trees. He is always amazed by how it runs out of the trees and how it tastes. This boy loves the sweet taste of the maple sap, but not pure maple syrup, go figure.
This year we had so much snow it was fun watching the kids try and navigate the deep snowpack. I found myself just watching them trying to walk around and it was hard not to giggle a bit when they got stuck. It was a good day yesterday, and hopefully today we can dig out the evaporator and finish up the last couple taps that will be on buckets this year.
This year with the deep snow, I found it helpful to have one of these bins to haul around in the woods that contained everything we needed to tap our trees.
I went with a slightly different drawer box assembly technique on this set of drawers. Not sure of the exact name of this joint it’s a combination of a dado in the side of the drawers and a rabbet in the front. This joint will provide more glue surface area and should hopefully be stronger than a rabbet joint alone with glue and nails that I used on the Miter Saw Stand. I was using up some scrap 1/2” plywood for these boxes so I had some variations that made perfect set-up of the dado and rabbet a little challenging so I opted to get close knowing that I may need to knock down the sides that protrude beyond the fronts with a sander and some 60-grit paper. The drawers have the same 1/4” dado in the bottom to accept some 1/4” hardboard for the drawer bottoms.
The technique for installing drawer slides is straight forward. The slides were installed in the cabinets in my earlier post using a piece of 1/2” plywood as a spacer. Now that I am ready to install the drawers, I switched over to a 1/4” thick piece of hardboard. This will space the drawer perfectly when I go to attach the drawer to the slides. A quick pencil mark to account for the added thickness of the solid wood edging and I was ready to attach the slides to the drawer slides.
Repeat the process four times and the drawers are installed. If I can sneak it in, I will try and finish the drawer fronts and cabinets doors, but I may be switching gears for sugaring, soon.
Saturday I tackled some solid wood edging on the base cabinets and today focused on getting some counter tops on the cabinets. I wanted some smooth, that was replaceable if damaged, and cheap. Now this counter is pretty impractical in its use of materials, but I was looking to add height and use up some materials.
I started with a 2×4 frame, this would give some thickness I needed as well as stiffen up the cabinets. No frills here, just some biscuits, glue and clamping.
The completed frame below really stiffened up the cabinets after it was screwed down to them.
I had some left over 3/4” particleboard that I used as the sub top. I really wanted something to add some wait to this assembly and 3/4” thick particleboard was the answer. I installed the first piece flush to the outside edge and overhang the front and the left side on purpose. I came along after and the particle board was screwed down and hit it with a flush trimming router bit.
Below is a good shot of the counter top assembly showing the 2×4 frame, the 3/4” particle board, and the 1/4” hardboard top. Once again, I screwed down the hardboard leaving it to overhang the particle board so I could come along after with my flush cut bit in my router.
Now my garage floor was so out of level in this area that I ended up shimming the cabinets a lot more than I would have thought to get my cabinets level. as a result I needed a little more height on my chop saw. I insert a couple of plywood strips and fine tuned the adjustment with these handy metal shims I picked up at Harbor Freight Last year when I was leveling my evaporator.
This was probably the best $5-$10 bucks I have spent at Harbor Freight and I probably got 20% off too! I have used these quite a bit since I found them.
The whole assembly leveled and in place, next up some drawer boxes for the cabinets, followed by some finished poplar drawer fronts and doors.
Step 1 – Have lots of snow!
Step 2 – Pile all of your snow in the same spot to create a snow bank that is at least 4’-0” higher than the surrounding areas. Don’t forget to shape the snow bank into a gradual ramp.
Step 3 – Have a long driveway on a hill where you can create bumpers for the kids, so they won’t end up in the “willy-wacks”!
Step 4 – Lose the battle with mother nature, resulting in a crusty mess of a driveway perfect for sledding. (Don’t forget to teach the kids how to bail out, by the last red maple tree we tap on the right…)
Step 5 – Insert two young children with energy to burn, who are tired of being cooped up inside due to winter weather.
Step 6 – Have no fear and smile!
Now that is some serious downhill sledding!
Today was one of those days… I had to spend some time on clean-up duty, last Thursday’s snowstorm changed overnight to a slushy, wet, mix of precipitation, and it was just cold enough to freeze it all into a solid, crusty mess. My driveway which I struggled so hard all winter to keep black with pavement was now a mess! I had to hit the dump for some sand and salt to try and help break-up the crusty mess, especially with another storm forecasted to hit us this afternoon into the evening hours. Even though I was disappointed with the condition of the driveway, the boys were loving it. They were able to sled for quite a ways before turning the sled into the snow banks lining the drive way.
After my morning chores were complete I had some free time to do a little woodworking. In the last installment, I was contemplating how to edge band the base cabinets and whether I was going to use some birch veneer edge banding I had on hand, or whether I was going to use some solid wood edge banding.
As you can see below, I ended up agreeing with Homestead Dad, who commented on the post, and chose solid wood edge banding. While I was out picking up sand and salt at the dump I had picked up a 1×6 poplar board that matched the color of the cabinets that I had built pretty well. I decided to rip the strips to 3/8” depth, because I would be gluing and nailing these to the edge of the cabinets. I was nervous that if I went to thin, I would split the narrow strips with the 3/4” long brads I was using to attached the edging to the cabinets.
I ripped enough strips so I would have enough left for the drawers and doors that I will eventually be doing as well. Installation was straight forward, I would would apply glue on the back of each piece of edging, clamp it in place, and attached it with 18 gauge, 3/4” long brads. The solid wood edging was a little bit wider than the thickness of the plywood, so I lined the edging up flush with the inside face of the cabinet. I figured if I needed to knock down and edge with a sander it would be easier to do it outside of the cabinet rather than inside of each cabinet.
This was a last minute change so I may need to accommodate for this added thickness when I attached the drawer slides to the drawers. I figure it will be easier to do that than to unscrew and re attach the drawer slides to the cabinets, but we will see.
Hard to tell from the photo below, but I think it really cleans up that outside plywood edge and I am glad I went with the solid wood edging. Hopefully I will be able to spend some time on the counter top tomorrow after the snow storm clean-up.
Last Saturday we made our yearly pilgrimage to Bascom’s Maple Farm in Alstead, NH for some minor supplies. This is a 3-hour round trip for us and kills a Saturday morning but I think it’s a neat adventure for the kids.
We buy all of our glass here and in this years maple catalog there were these awesome new mason jar mugs for less than $9.00/dozen. I was thinking that these would make really good beverage glasses, so we picked up a dozen for the house and and dozen for some future syrup! These glasses are the perfect size for an iced tea!
Our goal this year is to submit some of our syrup to the local fair’s for judging. Our hope is that we will get crystal clear syrup with our new filter press and figured we should be capable of competing! Most of the contests here in New Hampshire require submitting your syrup in a 1lb Honey jar. Don’t ask me why, but we discovered this last year at the last minute and could not get our hands on one of these nifty items. This year we are prepared!
I am not sure if I will get to it prior to the sap starting to flow this year, but I have some plans to join some of my tubing together so I can put 10-15 taps on a run instead of the 5 taps that I am currently running per line. The snow, and cold temperatures may make this a project after the season is over.
In addition to all the sugaring stuff for dad, they also had some coloring books for the kids. I am hoping this could provide a temporary distraction from the dullness of weekend boiling outside.
It’s hard to feel like Spring and Sugaring Season is upon us, with today’s Nor’easter blowing through. We had a good 6-8” on the ground before a break in the snow bands and there is another 3-6” forecasted to fall later tonight. Hopefully all of this late snow will help prolong the Sugaring Season, but we will have to wait and see. The extend forecast shows a warming trend starting Tuesday, so I think the plan will be to get tapped in this weekend. Let’s hope the weekend weather is sunny and mild!
This is my first foray into making base cabinets. It’s also some good prep for a project the wife has on my woodworking to do list. So the back wall of my garage stall, I mean woodworking shop, has a 7’-0” section of drywall that I will be re-purposing for some cabinets. This will also be the place where I can wedge my mobile miter saw cabinet that is currently under construction. The goal is to have storage for some tools, additional counter top / assembly space that can also double as supports for long boards that I will be cutting on the chop saw. As always I rough something out in sketch form on paper to get a rough idea of sizes and large cut pieces. I am not a cabinet guy, but have seen enough pre-built cabs to take a stab at building my own.
The boxes will be relatively simple plywood boxes with two drawers at the top and a pair of doors below the drawers. The cabinets will have 2×4 pressure treated bases that I will eventually cover up with a 4” vinyl base to clean up the look. I started with the PT bases. I made them slightly less than the width of the cabinets, and 3-1/2” shorter than the depth of the cabinets to create a toe kick.
After the bases were complete I rough cut the sides, bases, and some rails out of the 3/4” poplar plywood I had previously purchased. I rough cut the 8’ sheets of plywood on my saw horses with a 4’ straight edge. I would end up with sheets of plywood that are 25”-30” in length by 48” in width which are much easier to handle by yourself on the table saw. I then cut all the sheets to final dimension on my table saw. With everything sized, I turned my attention on the rabbets that I planned to make on the sides. If you refer to the sketch above I have a rabbet on the bottom of each side and on the back of each side.
I set the saw up wit a stacked dado head set, and clamped a sacrificial fence on my saw’s fence and we were ready to rabbet. The rabbets where all 3/8” deep by 3/4” wide. to receive the plywood.
With the rabbets cut it was time for some assembly. For times sake I chose to glue and nail the boxes with brads. I stood the sides of the cabinets up on what would be the front edge of the cabinet, stood the bottom of the cabinet up in the rabbets and laid the rails across the back of the cabinets, and fastened everything together after gluing and clamping. I attached the 2×4 bases and had to do a quick mock-up.
The back of these cabinets will be about 6-7” off of the face of the drywall wall. This is to allow for a future dust collection system to be piped in the back. Additionally lets me use the miter saw while the front of the miter saw cabinets is flush with the face of the new base cabinets. Eventually the Miter Saw Cabinet will get poplar doors and drawer fronts to match the base cabinets.
After playing around with dimensions, I decided on the depth of the drawers and glued and nailed the front rails and divider for the two drawers, because of the huge pain it was to install the drawer slides after the fact on the Miter Saw Cabinet, I decided to install the slides now before the top rail and the counter tops are installed.
The slides were a piece of cake. I use a 1/2” thick piece of plywood laid front to back to use as a spacer for the slides. When I am ready to install the drawers in the future I will use a 1/4” thick spacer. The slides are set about a 1/16” back from the front edge of the cabinets and attached to the sides with three screws.
With the drawer slides installed on both cabinets I nailed the top rails in place and was ready to level and install the base cabinets in their final location.
I had to remove my adjustable shelving that was on this wall and install some ladder frames to space the cabinets 7”+/- off the back wall. Eventually there will be some removable filler panels on the sides and the front middle area where my miter saw will go. All the cabinets were shimmed, leveled, and fastened in space. In my next window of free time, I will probably focus on either the counter top or the cabinet drawers and doors. I am still on the fence on whether I should edge band the plywood with veneer tape or some solid wood edging…
As part of my attempt at seed starting again, much to my wife’s chagrin, I did a fair amount of research to determine when to start each type of seed for successful transplant based on our Agricultural Zone. I took the time and marked up a calendar so I know exactly when to start plants as seedlings, and when they should be transplanted. I have had unsuccessful attempts in the past and I am horrible at remembering when to plant, so I am following the calendar I made up to the letter this year.
I have upgraded my flimsy seed starting rack with this surprisingly sturdy plastic shelving unit from a box store. It cost just under $40, but I needed something sturdy and with a decent footprint. I re-used lights and a timer that I had from previous attempts but replaced the bulbs. Each fixture has one 2900k and one 6500k lamp. I remember reading somewhere that the plants benefit from the different temperature (color) lights.
The holes in the shelving unit were located perfectly for hanging two lights side by side and you can see that the 4’-0” lights overhang each side of the shelving system by 6”. The 48” wide shelving unit had a much bigger depth and was just too big for what I need. Plus if this doesn’t work this can be used in the basement for storage!
I was using up some leftover planting stuff so I took a seed starting tray filled it some seed starting mix and was ready to go. I pre-wet the peat pots, and moistened the seed starting mix with warm water prior to filling the pots. I
My calendar calls for onions, parsley, and pansies. So I don’t forget three pots of Pansies on the right and three pots of parsley on the left. That leaves fifteen pots of onions in the middle. Below is the first tray of seeds in the middle of the rack, eventually I will rotate and add more flats. Fingers crossed!