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  • Writer's pictureJane Wheeler

News from the Farm

Here on the farm we have a few things happening! The puppies have arrived! We have 5 lovely, roly, poly little chocolate lab puppies tucked up in the blue kiddie pool in the spare room.

We started out with 6 but one was born with some physical challenges and oh my, he tried to hang in there and we all rooted and prayed for him, but it was not to be. So, we have 5 healthy puppies we intend to keep one but will be selling the rest.

Mocha is a good mom, diligently looking after them but also taking some much needed mom away time now and again, if I can convince the little cuties to hug the hot water bottle instead of her.

I had wondered if she was getting ready to deliver her puppies Friday night, but nothing seemed to be happening except that I felt she was a little “off”. I woke up 6:30am Saturday morning to the sound kind of like a baby crying in Mocha’s kennel. I looked in and low and behold there were 2 little puppies in there. I had let her out at 3:00am and there were no puppies then, so between 3 and 6, she was a busy little momma.

What struck me at first is how noisy they are. Upon making entrance into the world, they promptly started whining. They whine if they cannot touch each other, they whine if they cannot find mom, they whine if they cannot find their food, they whine if they get cold. For animals that cannot see or hear and appear fairly helpless, they get their opinions known and they push their way around the kiddie pool quite easily.

The other thing that struck me is that I am doing a lot of laundry, puppies are what I call, “little pooping machines.”

I sit and watch these little ones and they are quite the characters already. The term “dog pile” is absolutely a great name. These little ones who were all squished together inside of mom, still wish to be touching, climbing on each other or on mom and often hide underneath each other. They literally sleep in a “dog pile”. It keeps them warm, they have company, and they simply need to touch each other.

We bought a couple steers today, and actively looking for some more, so growing the beef is the next step I guess. We are a month behind in grass growth as we were so cold for so long – we have had no grass to feed them. We actually broke 20 degrees today – first time all year and it felt wonderful!

We have 7 fruit trees doubly fenced. We had them in one fence and I came home twice to 1 tree leaning over. It had not been particularly windy those times, so I suspect that a long-necked moose got its head over the fence and pulled at the tree. I did notice a couple missing branches on one of the trees.

Dogs, deer, moose, rabbits, attack grouse, cows and bears – it’s a regular zoo over here.

We have now put up another fence around the tree fence. It is a fence to keep dogs in for when the puppies are old enough to spend some time outdoors and the fact that it makes it harder for other herbivores (tree eaters) to get to them is a bonus!

I want to talk about the past few months and an adventure that God has us on. It was Birch tree season. I had no idea about how wonderful Birch trees are. In my mind all trees are marvelous, but Birch trees, well they are spectacular!

Every part of the Birch tree is medicinal – so much value in one tree!

Because it was so cold for so long, we were granted an extended time to collect Birch sap. Also known as Birch Water – it is the fluid that pushes its way up from the ground in the spring and pushes nutrients into the tree to get it to start growing, you could call it “living water.” It is usually only available for approximately 3 weeks.

We got an extended time because Spring would almost arrive only to be forced into a shut down because winter would come on back.

We tapped our Birch trees and collected Birch sap daily. Birch sap only stays good for 2-3 days in the fridge so keeping it preserved was tricky. We have tried many different methods as this delicious drink was something that we wanted to try to harvest. Birch sap/water has been harvested and drank for centuries by many cultures and northern countries in the world. Scandinavia, Russia, China, Northern Europe and North America.

Many methods of preserving include: pasteurizing and canning it, but you have to heat the sap in this method and some of the vitamin c and other nutrients can be lost. I noticed a lot of commercial Birch water companies use citric acid as a preservative and we tried it but it made the drink bitter. Making the sap into a fermented drink is another method in other cultures and countries, it has a low volume of alcohol. Freezing is the only method that we could find that leaves the birch sap in its natural state. So freezing it is what we have done.

I spent many hours each day working with gallons of sap and freezing it.

Birch water has many advantages – it is really refreshing! Looks and tastes just like water but with a hint of sweet in it. It is really good for you as it contains minerals, nutrients, vitamins, anti oxidants and other wonderful things your body needs. We read that 10 days drinking 1 cup per day is an excellent Spring tonic and purifier. We are selling our limited harvest of Birch water to people who want to give it a try. Private message me if you are interested to learn more. (I guess that is local folks only as shipping frozen sap would be fairly tricky!) **There is a high level of manganese in Birch sap so children can get more than the required FDA approved amount by drinking Birch sap**.

Birch syrup is a real thing…. and I gave it a try. It is not as sweet as Maple, probably only 1/3 of the sweetness, but delicious. Maple syrup has a 40 gallon to 1 ratio. That means for 1 gallon of maple syrup you need 40 gallons of maple sap. Birch syrup has a 100 gallon to 1 ratio. That means for 100 gallons of sap you get 1 gallon of syrup. Plus it takes about 20 hours to slowly cook it down. I would fill my slow cooker to the top and 20 hours later get about 1 cup or less of syrup. It felt defeating to do all that for the little amount you got in return. We do not feel that is where we want to invest our time. So Birch Water it is.

We also been enjoying some elusive and power packed Chaga mushroom, which also grows only on Birch trees, but not every birch tree. You have to hunt it down and find it out in the forest. Perhaps only 1 in 50-60 trees might have a chaga and then you cannot harvest it all, you have to sustainably harvest it to allow it to continue to grow because it is a slow grower and we do not want to use up all the Chaga.

I love foraging the forest for its treasures. Currently I have bottles of Birch bark, Birch bark tincture, Poplar bud tincture and Poplar oil, and my Chaga. I also have from last year, rose hips and dried red clover. I feel like I am reviving my herbal and perhaps BC hippie roots! I have always believed that natural and nature has the best medicine, we simply have to know what to look for and how to use it.

Right now I am on the hunt for Spruce tips…..

This all came about because I heard a lady say that she asked God what she could do to make some money. He told her, “What’s in your hand?” She can bake, so she started her own little bakery and has quite the little business going!

So I asked God, “What’s in my hand?” I did not get an answer for a bit so one day I asked, “What’s in my hand besides all this bush?” It was my Aha moment, because it was then that I started studying our bush to see what is all in it.

I then heard, “take care of the land and the land will take care of you,” and I have been foraging ever since.

This my friends is the news from the Eighth Day Farm.

Link to article about Birch Sap:

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