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oprn

Greetings from the Canada!

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It's the wind here that does it. Out in the open fields there would not be much more than 4" to 6" of snow. The wind picks it up and blows it across the country until it finds something to stop it. Trees, fence lines, ditches, roads, cars, machinery and buildings all get piles of snow on the lee side. So it does look like we get a lot of snow if you judge it by our yard but in fact you can almost walk across the open fields in your Sunday shoes. 

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So the snow blows around like dust. Is it true that it's really difficult to make snowballs out of canadian super cold snow?

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In the spring an fall when the temperature is closer to freezing you can make snow balls and snow men but for the most part unless you live in the coastal areas where the winters are mild the snow is too dry. When it comes down without a wind you can open the door and wave a broom at it and it all scatters but after the wind has had a go at it that's a different tale! It becomes very compact. I understand that our northern most native people had 11 different names in thier language for snow depending on it's age, temperature and how compact it is.

This morning as I type this it is -37.8 out there. At this temperature the snow squeaks so loud under the tyres that you can hear the snow for up to a mile before you can hear the engines of vehicles coming. Sound travels a long way in the extreme cold. Traction is actually quite good at the lower temperatures too. It's not greasy like it gets up near freezing. The tyres will feel square and bump - bump - bump for the first few miles. The seats will be hard like park benches too! Power steering pumps growl and complain for a bit, older heater fans tend to squeal.

The air is crisp and clear and everything sparkles with fresh frost in the sun. It actually has it's own special beauty - if you don't have to work in it!  

 

 

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Spring has arrive in a big way this last week. After all the cold weather we are now seeing lots of days above zero with nights still dipping down to -4 or -5. Perfect maple syrup weather! Franklin is doing just fine in spite of muddy roads. Yesterday got up to 14C and we had a bit of a shower overnight with the temperature at 0.5 this morning. I hope it doesn't warm too quickly or the sap will stop running!

 

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Edited by oprn

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You can't plug tubes into trees. That's just plain wrong. You'll be crushing rocks to get beer next! Digging cheese out of the ground? Catching money with nets...

Sorry. Just realised it's all in Canada :)

 

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We are not really in the maple syrup area at all and up until a few years ago I had never heard of it being done in Western Canada. The true sugar maples do not grow here but I remember as a child standing under what we commonly called Manitoba maples (Box Alders) and catching the drops of sap from broken twigs in the spring on my tongue and tasting the faint sweetness it had. I always wondered why it couldn't be one. 

Well, it can and we are not the only ones it turns out that do it. These trees do not produce the volume of sap that true sugar maples do and it is also a slightly different flavor. It takes 5 gallons of sap to produce 1 pint of syrup too. 

As a reward to Franklin for making it through his first Canadian winter we are taking him 3.5 hours to the big city to see the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra!

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Franklin made the trip just fine. Exposed him to a bit of Canadian culture! And yes we had seats in the nose bleed section.

I just love scooting around the city in this car, it fits in places that nobody else does and what a treat in a parking lot - turns on a dime and gets change back! 

 

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Edited by oprn

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First 5 gallons of maple sap off and on the boil.

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Is that how it's concentrated? Same for all maple syrup? 

Surely boiling off the water component will also remove a lot of flavour? Can't you vacuum off the water part, lowering the temp to a cold boil? But i'd guess you still need to pasteurise the syrup somehow...

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Ah! You are perceptive my friend! It does indeed change the flavor. The sap as it comes from the tree is just faintly sweet with a definite woody/barky/earthy overtone. As you boil it down that woody/earthy odor fills the house and when the syrup is done it is absent in the final product. Just the sweetness is left with maybe a hint of a caramel/molasses flavor. Now as the sap boils there forms tiny whitish flakes that they call ash. Several times in the boiling process (we do it each time we change to a smaller pot) it needs to be filtered out. If you leave it in it really doesn't effect the syrup much but later it settles on the bottom of the jar and if you get it on your food it has a definite bitter/baking soda sort of taste.

The North American Natives I understand concentrated it by freezing instead of boiling. Sugar is used in antifreeze and as you know has a lower freezing temperature than water. What they did was to let the sap start to freeze, skim the ice crystals off and repeat until they had the sap concentrated to the flavor they wanted. I have done this with milk but I have not tried it with sap. Time consuming process I'm sure but it would be interesting to compare the results!

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Just to show you we share our hobbies with Franklin, here he is helping out with another batch of sap. This is an old farm yard 1 Km north of us that has a number of Box Alders that I have been tapping for 3 years now. 10 gallons on the boil tonight!

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Maybe you would enjoy seeing a spring sunset to prove that all is not doom and gloom here! This is out the back door just now.

 

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Franklin hit his 1st big milestone today! 

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  • Thanks 1

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Yay! Should've waited 30 seconds. A momentus event. :) I always remember exactly where i was when it happened to each of my cars.

 

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Oh! We got that too!

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Hooray :)

 

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Franklin gave us a bit of attitude on Monday. The Missus was on her way home and he just up and quit running. The oil and alternator light came on and he coasted to a stop. She got out and checked the oil level but it was fine. Got back in and he started back up and has run fine since. I checked the battery terminals and fuses but nothing seems loose, wiggled the ignition key when I was driving but no issue there so... wait and see I guess.

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Hmm, sounds like a power supply to engine cut out thing...

Not sure if the Jap cars have the same setup, but, there's a power relay that provides 12v to the ECU and engine loom when ignition is on. They are known to fail (contacts give up). Vibration (a lot on your roads I'm guessing!), can make things happen faster/sooner. 

It's usually next to/behind the fuse box. Simply unplugs- about US$5 on fleabay. 

But ignition switches/key barrel can cause same symptoms. And they are also a known thing. But then the dash goes blank for a moment, which is the tell-tale.

Edited by mk2

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Same relay in a pd diesel so should be easy enough.

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@oprn , what engine code do you have?

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Not sure about the engine code or where it is located but it is a 1.4 liter 16 valve petrol engine. Hasn't done it again but we will be putting on a lot of miles this weekend so will see. Thanks for the tips on what it could be!

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We had a flat tire to start the day yesterday but five hours of driving and Franklin behaved just fine. We have 9 hours to do today.

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All went well so until it happens again it will remain a mystery.

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Seems it's time for new tyres on Franklin. He came with 175 60 R14s, I see the spare and the owner's manual say 185 55 R14. Our local tire shop found us a set of 175 65 R14s which will be a fair bit taller. Any thoughts? 

Thanks Merv.

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