You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your forefathers, as it is today. If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed.
Deuteronomy 8:17-19

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Whole Sappy Story

Here is a story line of photos that will tell the story of how God's provision of the maple tree is utilized into syrup that is not only yummy but good for you as well.  
First, you choose the trees that are able to be tapped.  Maple trees have a variety of different textures to their bark; it seems like they are like snowflakes being no two exactly alike.
Some trees grow by themselves, and others grow in clumps; such as this one with 6 different trees growing together.  Each tree is tapped (rule of thumb is if it is over 6 inches in diameter) and can be tapped more than once IF you can't touch your fingers while hugging the tree.  (Yes, we are tree huggers!)
Each tree is drilled into (when you know that you have about six weeks of good sapping weather left of the year), and then a plastic spout is placed in the hole.  

This spout is sanitary and attached to a tubed pipeline that runs into the sugar shack during weather that is above freezing.  Many put the taps on the south side where the sun will warm the spout so that it will run better.
This is a picture of the releaser.  Using a vacuum pump on the pipeline, the sap runs into here.
This is a closeup shot of the sap running into the releaser.  From here, it gets dumped into a large stainless steel storage tank. The sugar content at this point is usually 2%.
From this tank, it runs through a reverse osmosis machine, which pulls out about 40% of the water, bringing the sugar content close to 4%.  This will also aid by saving some boiling time.  The water that is taken out of the sap is saved and used to clean the reverse osmosis machine and the different equipment. After coming out of the reverse osmosis, the sap is then shot into another stainless steel tank.
Looking through the steam- you can see the tubes- the sap is taken from the stainless steel tank through this pipe and into the top of the evaporator.
This is a photo of the evaporator.  The sap comes into the evaporator at the top in the back; this area is called a steam away.  Much of the steam from the front of the pan is being used in the steam away to start to bring the incoming sap up to temperature.  After going through the steam away, the sap drops down into the pan below it in the back, called the flue pans, and then finally makes it's way to the front of the evaporator which is called the finish pan.  This is where you see the steam coming up.  The sap moves through the evaporator by float systems or by manual valves.  This evaporator has a float system, but the floats have a hard time keeping up with how much sap moves through, so we use mainly manual valves.
Here is a shot of the firebox that is front of the evaporator.  It is wood fueled and has to be replenished every ten minutes.  The evaporator is VERY hot, and will burn you very easily.  There is also a blower that is attached to make a hotter fire.  
Here is a photo of the sap boiling in the front pan, close to making syrup.  Some people can tell from the bubble formation when the syrup is ready..

We test the sap at the end of the finish pan to find out at what temperature it is syrup.  The temperature can be different every night- and can vary slightly throughout the same night, so we check with each drawing off of the sap.  The sap that we want tested is poured into a hydrometer cup, and a clean and dry hydrometer is placed in to read the sugar content of the hot liquid.  This sample above is slightly heavy- meaning a little bit thicker than syrup(because you can see the red line above the liquid- right at the red line is right at syrup consistency  and if the red line is below your liquid level you don't have syrup yet).
We then set the automatic draw-off to the temperature reading that we decided that syrup was made at that night.  When the temperature of the sap comes to our temperature (which on this night it happened to be 219.3) the valve will automatically open and release the syrup in the finish pan that is at that temp.  Each draw is tested to make sure that it is indeed syrup or if the numbers have to be adjusted.
From the bucket that the sap draws off into, this is then poured through a filter press to filter out any impurities so that you have beautifully crystal clear syrup.

The sap is run through the filter press on the right which has several filtering papers into the canner on the left.    
The syrup in the canner is kept around 185 degrees and then poured into bottles.

The lids are put on tightly.

 The finished bottle is stored upside down for sealing purposes.
Foil is added on the top to make it look more attractive, and is ready for consumption :)

I am so glad that you have listened to my sappy story- it is a very sticky one, and has a lot of labor; however when doing any labor with loving family- it helps us stick together :)

Friday, March 1, 2013


Radiance is a free 6 inch crochet square pattern and devotional about shining our light. I love the radiance that you can visibly see on a person’s face that loves the Lord with their whole being. I want that radiance- and so I wanted to study radiance and where it comes from.

Ecc. 11:7 Truly the light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the sun.
A huge thank you to my fabulous testers and sisters in Christ; Linda Nelson, Kelly Youngblood, Joanne Jones, Bekah Doughty, and Carmen Carpenter.
Yarn: Caron Simply Soft
Hook: I
beg- beginning
dc-double crochet
hdc-half double crochet
lp or lps-loop or loops
rnd- round
sc-single crochet
sl st- slip stitch
sp or sps- space or spaces
st or sts- stitch or stitches
tr- triple/treble crochet
yo- yarn over

Special stitches:
Dtr- Is a double triple/treble.  Working as a tr, wrap your hook with yarn 3 times rather than just 2, and pull through 2 loops 4 times rather than just 3.

Rnd 1-Starting with Color A,  ch 4, sl st to first st to create ring.  Ch 3, (hdc, ch 1) 7 times and join with sl st to 2nd ch from beginning ch3. (8 hdc, 8 ch1 sp)
Rnd 2- Sl st into first ch1 sp.  (Ch3, 2 dc) in same sp.  (Sk next hdc, 3 dc in each ch1 sp) 7 times and join with sl st to top of beginning ch3. (24 dc)
Rnd 3-  (Ch3, sk1, sl st to next st) 12 times. (12 ch3 sp)
Rnd 4- Sl st into ch3 sp. (Sc, dtr, sc) in each ch3 sp.(When doing the dtr- push the stitch which will project outward into a loop to the front before making the sc after it) Join with a sl st to first sc. (24 sc, 12 dtr) Finish off with color A if using more than one color.
Rnd 5- Change to Color B if desired and make 2 sc in between the 2 sc stitches from the previous row, and 2 sc in the st that you see behind the dtr (this is actually the top of the dtr- but is behind because the sc pushes the stitch down into a nupp) shown in photo below, continue around, and join to beg sc with sl st. (48 sc)

Rnd 6- Ch 3 and dc in same st.*  Dc in next st, hdc in next 2 sts, sc in next 4 sts, hdc in next 2 sts, dc in next st, 2 dc in next sts, ch 3,** 2 dc in next st. * Repeat(from *)  3 more times ending at the ** on the final rnd.  Join with a sl st to top of beg ch3. (24 dc, 4 ch3, 16 hdc, 16 sc)
Rnd 7- Dc in each st and (2 dc, ch 2, 2 dc) in each corner ch2 sp. Join with a sl st to beg sc. (72 dc and 4 ch2sp)
© Copyright February 2013 by Cynthia Boylan, all rights reserved. This pattern, in whole or part, may not be reproduced – mechanically, electronically, or by any other means, including photocopying -- without the written permission of Cynthia Boylan. Projects made from this pattern may be gifted, swapped or sold. If you use this pattern to sell items on the internet, kindly credit Cynthia Boylan as the designer.

Psalm 34:5 Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

Have you ever had a solar garden light that you put along a pathway either to the garden- or to the house? I had a set of them leading from front porch to the driveway so that our path would be lit when we had to either leave or return home in the evenings. The solar light charges from the sunlight in order to glow that night- giving off a radiance of light.  When not charged that day, or if the day is overcast and the solar panel cannot be in the sunlight then the light wanes if it shines at all. It needs to be recharged each and every day to be at peak brightness when darkness comes. It is hard to walk in the darkness without our path lit- we end up fumbling around and tripping, bumping into things that are in the way; but when the light shines, we can easily see obstacles, go around them, and be a help to others.
John 8:12b “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
We too have that same radiance- when we spend time with our Light Source, God.  Every time that Moses spent time with the Lord in Exodus, his face shone visibly. We have all seen people who have a glow about them no matter the circumstances.  Their faces light up when they talk of their First Love, their Light Source; their King - undeniably they spend time with the Lord on a regular basis. This is something that we can experience- we charge up by spending time with God, and then shine in the darkness of all that is in the world.  We must continue to charge ourselves up or become a dim bulb and blend into the darkness.  We cannot shine on our own.  We need to be refilled each day with His light, or we won’t have the light to see things clearly and will be fumbling around in the darkness and may even stray from our path.
Charge up! Spend some time with Him today. Start a habit on spending time with Him daily- and you and others will notice a difference not only on your face but in your life.
 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Lord, we just love You so very much- and want to seek You.  Charge us each day so that we can live our lives for Your glory.  We know that “Thy Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path”, and we want this light to see our pathway to You.  We thank You for what You are doing in our lives and for Your love, in Jesus Name we pray.

Is 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.

Some ideas of spending time with Him are reading and studying His Word, praying, and listening to or singing praise songs.  Share some ways that you spend time with Him.

Numbers 6:25  The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee.

For those that would like to download the pdf- here is the link to my ravelry page.