March Prep Every Day Check-In Thread

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    Cinnamon Grammy

    Greetings, All

    I appreciate the people on this site very much. I asked a question on another closed site and the people could not even understand the question. I never did get an answer. The people on this site pay attention. Prep Club Members ask the questioner for more information so help can be offered; plus, you all don’t judge – just offer alternatives for you to think about.

    Thank you, everyone.

    Little Sister: Best wishes with your “daughter” and her issues. It is wise to know when to help and when to not.

    Sewing Thread: Thank you all for the information about thread, Columbia River. I had not really thought about it. I have some thread that is polyester over a core that just does not work in my machine; it unravels. I use it for hand sewing buttons and sewing marks. I have some cotton thread from my mother that is cotton; it is fragile and breaks. I did know that. She kept the spools in ancient Alka Seltzer Glass Tube-like jars in her sewing cabinet. I have them on a shelf. I will not use them; they are now a decoration with memories from my childhood.

    Question! We may have trouble this Spring. We live on a relatively short hill, one-half mile from the county road. We are surrounded by our woods and neighbor’s fields. There is a lot of wildlife. This winter under the bird feeders, besides the normal birds, we have had: Turkey, Hawks, White-tail Deer, Rabbit, Opossum, Raccoon, and Skunk – two skunks. We smelled the skunk a couple times before we saw it under the feeder. Hubby scared it away and it went onto our porch where it was hanging out on the “welcome” mat in front of our back door. There were <u>TWO Skunks.</u> They were circling each other, one with its tail raised. If they do not care about our scent on our porch, I am concerned that they may be living underneath the porch or under the granary (neither of which we can close off), or in the shed. I have only seen one in the eight years we have been here, and that was in the summer. I have no experience with skunks. How do we avoid them?

    We have not been to the grocery for two weeks. In fact, we have not left the property for two weeks. With the record deep snow from Feb., more snow, then rain turning to ice, then melting, then flooding basement and sheer ice on the drive, Hubby imposed a travel ban. No problems. The only thing we are running out of is potato chips. We were well prepared to handle being isolated for two weeks. I am very glad that we had electricity, plus satellite internet and phone connections, to keep us in touch with loved ones. Without that I would have been very unhappy and “antsy” not knowing what was happening in the world. That is an issue I don’t think we can surmount in a SHTF scenario.

    There is still not much on our grocery list. I had better check the big freezer to see what needs to be cooked up, canned and put on shelves.

    Scholarship: I was wrong about the source of the scholarship for my grandson. It is not a Ntl. Merit Scholarship, but from the school. Either way, I don’t think he understands how lucky he is.

    Syrup Time: The Box Elder Trees have been tapped. I wish we had Sugar Maples, too. The sugar concentrate in Box Elder Trees is not as high, but when boiled down, it is just as tasty. A few trees are flowing. What other trees do you tap? I think someone mentioned Walnut, is that true? We have walnut trees.

    Today, I am trying to coordinate my recipes. I probably copied thousands to my computer. I am trying to take what we consider our favorites and make sure I have added instructions for canning-if it can be canned. Then make an alias, Command L on a Mac, and put the alias in the canning folder; then I will print them, soon I hope. I am trying to make a list of the recipes we Can can and get them into a physical notebook for ease of use in the kitchen. Plus a list to organize the shelves, so when I send Hubby to find the jar, he will know where it is. This project will take many weeks.

    Today is my first grandson’s 18<sup>th</sup> birthday. His brother’s 16<sup>th</sup> is two days later. Then their parent’s wedding anniversary, then birthdays for granddaughter, Hubby and daughter. In there somewhere is a wedding – out of town. This is an expensive month! I wonder if they would like some canned foods.

    Spring is just around the corner…Breathe.


    Columbia River

    Reader board at a store in town “No End of Winter Sale”

    sign at another store “Stay Calm, Spring is Coming”

    for those of you who haven’t experienced our long late winter, that pretty much says it all.


    Columbia River

    Cinnamon Grammy – DH says birch trees have a lot of sap. He hasn’t heard about walnuts.



    Birch has sap at 100 to one of syrup. It has a spearmint taste, great for cooking flavours not so good at pancakes or waffles.  A brand called Boylan makes a birch beer soda if you want to try it.


    If doing bulk birch use a reverse osmosis water treating system, keep the waste water to condense the drinkable water side is just that water lol faster than boiling off 100 l to get one. It also can’t be kept in partial state like maple which is a 25 to one ratio. Birch goes bad after 2 days turn whiteish with floaties.


    The splyes  (taps) get stain less ones you can reuse instead of plastic. Birch need to be over 12 inched diameter and can only be tapped 2 years then needs a rest or it can die. You can not tap any birch with a fungal infection, the sply holes are sources for contaminations.  On plus side it can grow chaga or a strop mushroom for blade shaping,  but it kills the tree.







    Columbia River

    Cinnamon Grammy. One other thought. It’s an ongoing expense, but a satellite phone would let you do brief call to or from a family member or anyone.

    They are not cheap but if you have concerns about communication they can be priceless.  You basically pay a monthly or annual fee and then when you go over your minutes (staring at 10 minutes a month – this is not your typical cell phone bill) you pay per minute – like $1.50 – $13 per minute.

    They are not for those on a tight budget but I have family that are frequently a long way from cell phones or any type of civilization and have them and if you’ve been somewhere and needed one, then there is no price too high.  Depends on what the circumstances are


    Columbia River

    Namelus. Thanks for that info.

    We have birch but I think I’m not ready to be that self- reliant yet. There’s a limit to what I can do in a day and I’m pushing it right now.  Even though the bone is pretty much healed, just dealing with exercises and the muscle pain and trying to find a comfortable place to sleep is sapping energy from me. And I’m not even at work 8 hours a day yet.  I’m getting close to full time but I’m tired out.

    Maybe next year Cinnamon Grammy and I can put it on our long term prepping plans. 🙂


    Amy Dixon

    Mama Cando – You’re welcome!  Sorry my answer was so L-o-o-o-ng though, lol.

    Cinnamon Grammy – Here’s a great list from SoulyRested dot com of 22 types of trees that can be tapped to make syrup:  ‘Maple Varieties – Sugar maple – This is the holy grail of maples because its sap is more concentrated than any other maple, meaning you can make more syrup with less sap.  Black maple – These rival sugar maples in sap volume and they even resemble them as well.  Red maple – While they also produce high yields of sap, rep maples bud the earliest of the other maples in the spring, so their tapping season is shorter. I’m told their sap produces a yummy, slightly tart syrup.  Silver maple – While these trees produce spring buds very early, therefore have a rather short tapping season, they make fine syrup. Corey Kanable, of Wisconsin, makes his syrup from a mixture of sugar and silver maple sap every year. Scott Cherek is also in Wisconsin and taps solely silver maples. Norway maple These maples don’t make syrup as sweet as sugar maples, but Roland Jordan, in Rhode Island, taps 30 Norway maples every year and says his syrup has “a nice buttery flavor.”  Gorosoe – The gorosoe is the most popular tapping tree in Korea, where its name means “the tree that is good for the bones.” But the sap is enjoyed as a refreshing, healthy drink, not boiled down for syrup.  Boxelder – This very hardy tree frequently grows in abandoned areas, along railroad tracks, and in ditches, this may be a sugarmaking tree that you can easily find in the wild and forage sap from. But boxelders may yield only half the syrup of typical sugar maples.  Bigleaf maple – Native Americans have tapped these trees for centuries, but current-day sugarmakers tend to not even know about this powerhorse. A group of sugarmakers on Vancouver Island are changing this. Pamela Williams says that bigleaf maples can rival sugar maples in not only sugar content, but also production. Pamela has learned to watch the barometer more than the thermometer to know when to tap. She explains, “Bigleaf sap runs happen after extreme weather events. Barometric swings between the atmosphere and the tree produce sap runs as good as, if not better than, a reliable freeze-and-thaw cycle,” which is important when Vancouver experiences a mild winter.  Canyon maple/big tooth maple – These trees are popular in the Rocky Mountain states and Texas. While their sap has high sugar content, their volume isn’t so great.  Rocky Mountain maple The Plateau Native Americans made syrup from these trees, found in western North America.  WALNUT varieties – Butternut/white walnut – The butternut aligns closely with the sugar maple for sugar content and volume of sap.  Black walnut – The black walnut tree is a valuable timber species, as well as a good source for sap, with a long tapping season. I hear it is a truly delicious syrup, with a nutty undertone. Chrystal Smallwood, in northeast Pennsylvania, makes black walnut syrup. She says it’s a rich, dark color and has a unique flavor, which is just a little bitter.  Dalton Westerbeck, a backyard sugarmaker in Cinncinnati, says that black walnut syrup is by far his favorite of any variety he’s made or tasted. Although he says it’s not as sweet as maple syrup, it’s “definitely sweet enough.” In addition, Dalton finds the sap-to-syrup ratio is pretty comparative to maple, about 40-50 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup. Even so, many feel black walnuts are more valuable for lumber than syrup, since their wood earns quite a nice penny. In addition, selling them for lumber means you can rid your property of the huge mess that they cause, dropping tons of nuts that turn to black mush. I have heard that people actually harvest their nuts, but I truly have no idea how anyone can get past the extremely messy, staining black layer between the outer shell and the inner nut.  Heartnut – While heartnuts have a good concentration of sugar in their sap, they produce much less sap than maples.  English walnut These trees produce the walnuts we purchase from the grocery store. They can be tapped, but they need especially cold winter and spring temperatures to be tapped successfully.  BIRCH varieties – Paper birch – While the paper birch requires a lot more boiling time than maples, since it has a very low sugar content (less than 1%), it is the sweetest of the birch trees.  Yellow birch – This birch tree sap has a higher mineral composition and a higher number of antioxidants than sugar maples’ sap, but a lower sugar content.  Black birch – While black birch, native to eastern North America, is most most commonly used to make birch beer, it can be tapped for syrup too.  River birch – This birch grows in the southeastern United States and in the Northeast, and it can be successfully tapped.  Gray birch – While this is more of a shrub than a tree, the gray birch can be tapped if it grows large enough.  European white birch – While this tree is grown as an ornamental in United States, European white birch can be tapped for syrup. But I do feel like I should add here that I’ve been told by a gentleman who did actually make white birch syrup that he would never do it again; he personally found the taste “unappealing,” to say it nicely. Still, it has a very nice redeeming quality, if you want to use birch syrup for cooking, I’ve heard it makes a wonderful substitute for vanilla.  OTHER varieties – Sycamore – While the sycamore tree has a lower sugar content than sugar maple, it produces a syrup that some describe as having a touch of butterscotch flavor. Others have told me it has undertones of a honey-like taste. Yet someone else says “like caramel.” Any of those options sound wonderful to me. Of course most people have never heard of tapping Sycamore, so there is a wealth of delicious sycamore sap around the country just waiting to be tapped into. Because of it’s lower sugar content, as well as it’s uniqueness, sugarmakers could charge a pretty penny for the syrup. That of course does come after much hard work. Paul Hovan, a sugarmaker in VT, explains that you are lucky to have 1% sugar content with sycamore, so it takes 100 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup and a vacuum system is a must, in his opinion. He describes his sycamore syrup as having a “molasses” flavor, but explains that boiling down even farther than he typically does offers the delicious butterscotch flavor I’ve heard about.  American hophornbeam – These trees, also called hardhack or ironwood (although I’m told “ironwood” can refer to other trees as well), produce a sap later in the spring, and their sugar content and volume are greatly reduced compared to birch trees, not alone maples.’


    Columbia River

    Amy Dixon you are the syrup information queen!

    Awesome information. Going in my folder along with a list of basic supplies to acquire. Everyone should make syrup at least once. 🙂



    Cinnamon Grammy. Thank you. Though it is my step granddaughter but we raised her the first 12 years of her life. I hate that she is having to deal with my X-husband’s daughter whom is trying to interfere in her stepfather’s affairs. It’s a bad situation. So my step granddaughter is here to put her mother in her place. I can feel for her step-grandfather as I went through that mess with my husband’s daughter also. She had to be put in her place then as well. It was at the time my husband had a stroke and she tried to take over his care right down to telling me she was going to have a ramp put on my house. So I just told her that unless she was paying for it, it better not happen. I got cussed out from one end to the other, but I won. Funeral is tomorrow, so my granddaughter will walk away from her mother and her uncle when it is over with. It is ashame that mother and daughter can’t get along but in this case the daughter is right. This is the part I really don’t want to get into on a forum. It is that bad.

    On a better note. Both my step granddaughter and her new husband came over this afternoon.  First time we got to meet her husband. He is really nice. They make a cute couple. Sad part is they live 3000 miles away from us in CA. That is a trip we were unable to make for the wedding. We really had a great time looking at old pictures of her when she was little. And she as been doing the ancestry thing on her grandfather and we pulled out some very old pictures of hubby’s family. It was fun to match up what she found out on with the pictures we had. It went back about 4 generations so far. She’s going to do my family as well if it can be done as my father was adopted and the home he was adopted from has sealed the papers. But she found out that because he has been gone from here now 44 years that they should be able to open them now. Though may have to get a death cert. Not sure on that, but it would be fun to know about him.

    So only thing I got done today was to repair a jacket for my husband and do a little cleaning. Hoping tomorrow I can start getting things going again. Though grandson comes over a lot now that he is working just up the street. He said he wants to start going to church with us again. I was glad to hear that.



    Amy Dixon

    Coumbia River – Aw shucks <grin> thank you, but I was just passing along information I found through Michelle Visser’s website: SoulyRested dot com.  There’s a lot of great free info. available there about making your own Maple Syrup and related food items.  If you sign up for her free e-newsletter, she will send you a password so you can access all her helpful articles 🙂


    Amy Dixon

    Columbia River – Oops!  Meant to type “Columbia” River of course, lol.


    OldMt Woman

    Thanks, Woodsrunner…..but I think I’ll have to give up.  I just tried to post the final ‘third’ of the Storm Saga…..and yes it did …bounced me back to page one and did not post here.  It’s not that long. 

    AmyD….you copy/pasted that very long piece on sap trees.  [thank you much, btw.  I copied it for future reference.  I hadn’t heard of all of those.  ]  But did you have any trouble posting????

    Cinnamon Grammy…..self-reliant for 2 wks…good for you! Tricky weather this winter.  ….skunk always makes me remember why I had to get rabies shots in childhood.  28 in the stomach!  But skunk bit cat and cat scratched/bit us.  I consider them dangerous enough to SHOOT!  But not while they’re near the house.

    We’re now getting in and out…down and up.  Still a lot of snow but so much has melted.  So thankful that the frost came out of the ground VERY early this year…. it’s melting in; not running downhill to make ice.  I’m mostly resting to recover.  Get up and do things in spurts and then back down to computer or reading.  It works.

    OldMtWoman   G’nite all      ….{will this post or bounce???}


    Cinnamon Grammy

    Greetings, All

    Amy Dixon, what a list! Thank you all for the ideas of which other trees to tap! We tap Box Elder and Silver Maple. We have no birch at all, but there are some large walnuts. I am working on Hubby to add a few spiles there. The Walnut trees are on a hillside with a thorny underbrush of wild currant and black raspberries. We can never beat the squirrels to the nuts. It would be better to clear an area with just a low groundcover of grasses so we can actually find the nuts before the squirrels.

    Thank you for the idea, Namelus: I have no idea how to do reverse osmosis, but always willing to learn. We use metal spiles and plastic “IV” tubes (purchased for this purpose) which run from the spiles into a vinegar bottle (which hangs from the spiles) and this system keeps the sap clean. All items are washed and bleached first. He only installs about six spiles, and from those mature trees he can make enough syrup to last a year for the two of us. It does take a lot of boiling down, but, that is easy outside on our Camp Chef propane stove.

    It sounds as if we need to get 100 birch trees if we want birch sap. I want to get birch trees for other herbal reasons, too, and it would be great to get sugar maples and other nut trees. I want to make this a homesteader and permaculture oasis. He keeps saying that we will not benefit because of our age. I keep telling him that it is for the future. Plan ahead. Perhaps one of the grandchildren will inherit the place.

    Little Sister: I am sure that your step-granddaughter appreciates you just being there for her. Sometimes it is just the presence of a loving and understanding person, who does not judge and who is not too nosey, that creates a safe place. Asking, “How are YOU,” and leaving it at that.

    I am glad you are seeing your grandson. The connections are priceless.

    18<sup>th</sup> Birthday: We were able to leave the house and safely drive down the hill to get to the big city for the birthday. Drive was a bit slippery still. We met at an Old Country Buffet. Since we got there first, I asked for balloons for the birthday boy and we put the children’s coloring placemats on the table with crayons. The teenagers, all four, enjoyed playing with the balloons.

    I took a picture with my three grandsons standing in the same positions they did 10 years ago in another picture. All you can see is my head. Funny. The little ones grow up and we are proud of them.

    The 18-year-old may have a job at a camp that is about 12 miles from us. He asked if he could spend time with us on his random ½ days or overnights when he is off. Bear in mind that his family is only 40 minutes from the camp. I was impressed that he asked, because he knows that he is welcome at any time for any reason for any length of time. Whenever I see him, I just get this loving smile and a huge hug that lasts until someone else demands our attention.

    The three brothers, all appreciate my husband, their step-grandpa, and he gets great hugs, too. He has been around since before they were born so they are close. Last night we sat across the table from my Ex-husband. The two “husbands” are good friends and they talk to each other and help each other quite a bit. Family is what you make it. We are fortunate to have put our problems behind us and have a solid family unit. Next weekend we are going to a wedding that is three hours away and all staying in a rental house together. It is his niece, our God-daughter, the ex’s and mine, that is getting married. I am lucky to still be accepted as a member of his family. Very blessed.

    Oh, a dear family friend brought some Alpaca wool from Peru. It is beautiful. Before I realized why she had it, I asked her what I could make for her. It turns out she brought it for me! Still, I will make her a lovely lacey scarf and a cap. (She should have married my son, but he died before they were engaged. I consider her my D-I-L.) Yesterday, my Ex asked her to the lake for Memorial Weekend. Yup, she should have been family. She IS family; family of the heart if not legally.

    Columbia River: I have heard of satellite phones. Sounds expensive to use, but worth it if they were needed. At the moment we are 40 and 60 minutes away from family. Both families know to come here if there was a real problem. It would be the not knowing how they are doing that would drive me nuts.

    The other option would be ham radio. The problem there is if there is an EMP of any kind, our radio, antenna, and the local repeater would be down. Communication is one of the issues I am concerned about, only because we do not live near the family. (And as the mother/grandmother, I am the caretaker and I worry.) It would take three days of walking to get here if SHTF.

    OldMtWoman: Never give up. Write your story out, and perhaps you will find a way link it with Daisy’s help.

    I’m glad I don’t live on your hillside. We noticed that in the cities they were pretty much free of snow. I felt out of place wearing my snowboots while my daughter is wearing fancy leather dress boots. Ha ha. We still have snow, and a lot of melt water, but you take the cake after that snowy bomb. Hopefully you can see out of your windows soon.

    Time to do some shopping. Grocery and pharmacy. Hubby did use his reserved pills this past week. I wish he would save back a few more than a week’s worth. (Perhaps I will need to be sneaky.) Then perhaps I can get in a quick trip to JoAnn Fabrics and find some flannel so his new pajamas can have sleeves.

    It is SPRING! Rejoice. It was an interesting winter; hopefully, the rest of the year will be not quite as much. It will be mild. Summer will be normal. Crops will flourish. Just the right amount of water…Positive thinking.

    Later, Folks.



    Mama cando

    Amy Dixon, Nah it wasn’t  long. Great information I needed  My posts tend to be books til I start editing them, LOL.

    Well went to the market today (organic, Non-GMO) and scored. They had the bone broth I buy on sale, Since it’s just the two of us and I haven’t had the nerve(yet) to get out the honking pressure canner and do my own, the small containers are enough. It comes frozen and has a pretty good “shelf” life. I just added to the “pantry” this week. Store I usually go to is having a BOGO on TP and Paper towel this Friday, I will be heading there to stock up (plus I have COUPONS YEAH!!)

    DH, bless his pointed head, bought me a 20.5 qt pressure canner (IT WAS ON SALE). I had asked for the American 10.5 qt one for Christmas since it is just the two of us and I could use it on my flat top stove. I’ve had to go out and get a propane camp stove to use it because I can’t use it on the flat top.  I’ve been a bit scared to use it.  But that may not be a problem soon, the old stove is on it’s last legs and DH is talking getting a gas stove this time, we have the hook up but changed to electric because that is what we had when we moved in here 18 years ago. Other than that it’s been fairly slow around here.


    Amy Dixon

    Cinnamon Grammy – You’re welcome 🙂

    OldMt Woman – The first time I clicked on the “Submit” box, it didn’t post.  So I waited about 10 seconds and clicked the “Submit” box again, and then long post went through properly.  I scrolled up the webpage to make sure I saw the post in the proper place in the forum before I left that webpage.

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