Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fire on the Mountain

Last night we went down to see Farmer Todd's newborn kid goat. After a while the kids (human) all ran off to play, and minutes later they came running back to tell us about the big fire. Sure enough there was a big billowing fire up at one of the gas drilling rigs we can see from the house. Apparently when they get done drilling a well they have to burn off some of the gas for some reason. They call it flaring.

Farmer Todd and I walked over there this morning and here is what we saw. The drilling rig in the foreground of the top photo is from a different well than the one that is being flared.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pounding the Pavement

As I mentioned about a year ago, we are in the midst of a natural gas rush here in NE Pa. We now have two drilling rigs within sight (and earshot) and a third well pad that is only about 3/4 of a mile from us that we have an unobstructed view of(above photo).

In the past two weeks we have had a lot of seismic testing taking place which involves the running of miles and miles of cable along the road, and a convoy of four thumper trucks that lift themselves off of the ground with some sort of pad that sends seismic shock waves down through the road. I guess that they are measuring the thickness of the Marcellus shale layer that contains the natural gas. The thumper trucks went by here today. It looked like they were doing the Conga. "How thick is the Mar-cel-lus,.. how thick is the Mar-cel-lus".

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Maple syrup season started about three weeks back. I decided this year to put out about 25 taps which should in theory get us the 5 or 6 gallons of syrup that we seem to consume every year (kids eat lots of waffles). I had 5 tap and bucket sets from last year, and I added the other 20 in the form of white plastic food buckets (mostly blueberry pie filling) connected to the trees with sap tubing and tubing spiles that I got from the neighbors at Loch's Maple. This is the first time I have used sap tubing for it's intended use. I mostly use it for watering livestock. Big maple producers like the Lochs run the sap from many trees down into a central collection tank, but I opted to just drop 2 or 3 taps from one tree into a bucket.

I have my evaporator setup up at Sap House Bill's sugar shack, under the assumption that two guys hanging around feeding fires together would be better than two guy's doing the same separately. My evaporator is built out of a heating oil tank that I cut part of the top off of so that an evaporator pan that I traded a half of a pig for would sit on it. It has a door for feeding the fire and a stovepipe connected in the back. So far after 2 firings I have about two and a half gallons of syrup, and we haven't quite got into a heavy sap flow yet.