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Ben's blog

  • Bees no more

    Unfortunately, the bees yet again did not make it through the Winter. we have yet to carry a hive through one… With this in mind, we have decided that we will not do bees until we have a way to shield them better from the cold. We combined the green house and the well recently, the vision is to create a small oasis for all things which do not desire freezing. A heated green house / well house / bee shed maybe? We’re not sure what this looks like yet but I’m done killing bees. In the meantime we don’t want to let all this honey go to waste.

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  • Learning the great art of building culverts

    Mud season is making evident a whole lot of wet spots on the land, and the paths they drain through. This one path has been and issue for a while and now it’s all nice, flat & quaint :)

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  • We made a big hole in the house

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    Fitting went like a charm thanks to advanced planning from 2 years ago.IMG_5098Our house is finally starting to look like a real house. One of my favorite time when building a house is discovering a view. This one is not only the biggest, is also the one turned towards our land. It was something to discover it. We now get to admire nature, the result of our hard work, and our kid playing, all in one view.IMG_5102

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  • An addition to the family

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    Nicole & I struggled with the idea of a tractor for a while. In only 3 years we’d had such an impact on the land with barely any power tools, and a tractor will greatly augment our ability to affect it further.land_01 land_02 land_03 We believe a few things will keep us in check from expanding too much. At the end of the day, the winning argument was that our projects were going to happen, regardless of how much I suffer through them. A tractor will certainly take care of a lot of heavy lifting.

  • April snow

  • Boiling day

    More mistakes made this year, due to scheduling & weather constraints we let ~100 gallons of sap freeze in the tanks. Because I filled them too much, a thaw actually pushed a lot of concentrated sap out the top… lessons learned…

    The stuff dripping out the top of the tank tastes quite sweet, and it’s fertilizing the lawn.

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    Fortunately we are also avoided a lot of mistakes we learned about last year. Boiling is much smoother a process now.

    Helping?

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    Totally safe, no problem

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    The smell…

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    Finishing on the stove

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    Not captured in pictures, carrying 8 gallons of boiling liquid back home at night, on snow and ice, with a thrown back. Having a shed and proper snow handling equipment will make an amazing difference in the years to come.

  • Feature feature feature draw feature feature

    Since the success of the Mandala maker, I’ve been pumping out a ton of features, improvements and bug fixes. They are too numerous to list but a few stand out.

    • Collaborative editing using websockets for drawing mandalas with multiple people on the same session.
    • Drawing without mandalas, there are only so many Mandalas one can collaboratively draw and so I created http://draw.akrin.com which leverages all the Mandalagaba goodness for drawing and removes the mandala specific layer.
    • Read only mode guided by artists who like to livestream their drawing, I created a read-only mode to the collaboration. This way, people can watch but not participate.
    • An iOS app was born
    • High resolution renders are possible for $2, the charge helps with server costs and makes it a bit fairer if one was going to make money using the tool.
    • Not visible but noteworthy nonetheless, an intricate server strategy was put in place to alleviate future waves, load balancing had to be built from scratch because of the collaboration layer.
    • many, many, many other little things :)

     

    In terms of use, while the initial tsunami is dead, the project was picked up by artists and educators. I can’t post all all the pictures for privacy but I can’t tell you how awesome it feels to receive pictures like these:

    Kids enjoying a Mandala making lab somewhere in China

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    Artist Peter Draws created more amazing work:

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    The mandala maker was deployed on big touch screens which turned it into a more social activity much like arcade games.

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    Here’s draw.akrin.com: Click to pop out.

  • No sap production for weeks, getting the bucket ready for better weather ahead.

    The porcupine started exploring new paths, probably prompted by the warmer few days we had when we did the first round of sugaring. IMG_8282

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  • Tough sugaring so far

    Very tough sugaring so far, the weather isn’t cooperating. The conditions on the ground are horrible with ice and melting snow, you never know what will happen on the next step you take. Then you need to handle utensils in these conditions, next to a raging evaporator, glasses covered with steam, at night, by yourself. The potential is real for a freak accident that involves boiling, burning, impalement and maple syrup. We also had a wind storm which blew everything away but the cover on the evaporator thank god; a building around the evaporator will be very nice.

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    The sap wagon
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    Got stuck… had to shovel snow out from underneath the sap wagonIMG_8211

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    Hello fogginess my old friendIMG_8215IMG_8220

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    The reward: 1.5 gallons of unadulterated maple sweetnessIMG_8230