About Me

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I am an artist working in Water Color, Oils, Glass and wood in North Central Indiana. I enjoy Plein Aire work the most but often find myself in the studio during the winter when the weather is less than desirable for working on location. I have always been an artist, memories of drawing are some of my oldest. My early influence came from looking at old magazine covers done by Norman Rockwell. Later I discovered the photography of Edward Curtis as he had struggled to capture the American Indians of the Southwest before that culture completely disappeared. then I found Andrew Wyeth and knew what I wanted to paint. The Egg Tempera and Water Color Paintings of Andrew Wyeth were simply wonderful and I was forever committed to painting the rural landscape and those that live there. It was then I realized I would never again see the land as I had before I painted it. Soon after it was Winslow Homer and his Water Colors that kept feeding my interest in this medium and a traditional approach to my art. While I left the life as a professional artist for a time I find my return to it at this point in my life refreshing. Life is a journey and I am turning towards home. Mike Yazel

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Syrup Season!

  Okay this is not art but it is neat and a good excuse to be in the woods where I do get ideas for more art so see it all ties together! I put out about 250 taps in the spring just as it begins to warm up trying to catch the best window of cold nights and warm days before the trees shut down the tap holes. Once the nights warm up and stay that way the temperature between the roots and the tree equalize and the run is over and spring is here. Warm ups and cold spell during the sugar season can both shut the trees down but they will start back up when the conditions are right again until things warmup for good and the tree is ready to push leaves out. Here are some pictures from today.

This is my mini truck I use around the place hauling firewood and sap. It is 4 wheel drive which is a must this time of year in the woods! You can see some tube and one of the bins I catch the sap in. 

Another shot of the truck, you can see the tanks in the back and the pump line in the tub here. I collect by myself and this system is pretty efficient for me. On a good day I might bring in over 300 gallons of sap so anything that makes it easier helps. You can see the mini has ATV tires on it and if you notice the water and ice in the background you understand the reason for the tires. 

Here is a shot of a tub with some ice from the cold night still in the tank. I try to get out in the morning before the frost melts off so the ground is still stiff from the cold over night. When things pick up the tubs are full in the morning and I have to get it back to the holding tank and through the evaporator. Sap spoils just like milk so it is important to cook it as soon as you can. About every 1000 gallons of sap will use a cord of wood to cook off into syrup on my setup. My evaporator is a 2x6 foot with a steam hood to preheat the incoming sap. On a good day it will do over 30 gallons of sap an hour which is still a lot of cooking when you have to burn off 40 gallons of water to make a gallon of syrup! I will post some shots of the sugarhouse later. 

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