Clothes Pins on Line

Line Drying Clothes in Winter

It’s amazing the things you learn out of necessity. Our dryer hasn’t been working the best lately, which means I never seem to get caught up on our laundry. Oh, did I mention we have a six-month-old baby? While I’m ahead, I might as well make things even more exciting and add that we use cloth diapers. You better believe laundry is a big deal around here.

Clothes Drying on the Line

Yesterday was in the mid-to-high fifties, so I decided to put our cloth diapers on the clothesline. The sun was shining and there was a nice breeze, so I figured even if they only partially dried at least my dryer wouldn’t have such a hard time trying to get all the inserts dry. I wasn’t able to get outside until two o’clock, but when I brought them inside at six I was amazed at how dry they felt. There were only a couple that still needed to go back into the dryer.

Today was supposed to be colder with a high of 42 degrees. Well, my curiosity got the best of me and I did a quick google search to find out if I could “line dry clothes outside in winter.” I was amazed to discover it was indeed possible! Not only was I able to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, but I may finally be able to get caught up on all our dirty laundry. Plus, the sight of our clothes (or diapers) flapping in the wind on a sunny day fills me with a certain kind of contentment I don’t typically get when I’m using our dryer.

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Homemade Maple Syrup

In late winter, 2011, we attended a small festival called Maple Syrup Time at a little park in Lake County in northwest Indiana. We were living in Crown Point at the time and emerging from a long winter in our tiny apartment. It was a pleasant, sunny day. We were just looking for a fun afternoon, not a new hobby, but that is exactly what we found. It turns out, tapping trees and making maple syrup is a pretty simple task!

The process starts with maple trees. Lucky for us, we have four large silver maple trees in our front yard at Novel Farm. A tree needs to be at least 10 inches in diameter before tapping. If the tree is over 18 inches in diameter, it can hold 2 taps, and a tree measuring about 28 inches or larger can manage 3 taps. Try spacing out your taps evenly. In our experience, taps on the south side of the tree collect the most syrup.

The next thing you need is cooperative weather. The temperature needs to reach about 40℉ during the day, and drop below 32℉ at night. Where we are in Indiana, this typically occurs in February and early March. However, the past few years have been as stubborn as an old mule. Regardless, November and December are good times to start collecting gallon milk jugs, if that is what you are going to use to collect your sap. You can buy a bit fancier supplies, but we are frugal in our maple syrup endeavors and honestly don’t notice much of a difference.

Maple Syrup Tutorial

When you are prepared and the weather is right, use a 7/16” drill bit and drill at least 1.5” into the tree at a slight upward angle. Then lightly tap a ½” steel pipe nipple (you can buy these from any hardware store), into the tree with a hammer. If you are worried about the pipe nipple being too large for the 7/16” hole, I can assure you it works. The smaller hole guarantees a tight fit for the pipe nipple. Sap can leak out below the pipe nipple if the fit is not tight enough. If you are still worried, just widen the hole a bit at the entry point. Continue reading