Its a Wrap! 2021 Maple Season is Done
March 27, 2021, 10:48 am
Filed under: March 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

March 27, 2021

Our maple season came to an end last Monday. We gathered the last of the sap and “untapped” the trees as we went. It took a little longer to gather the sap that way, but at the end of the day we were all done with both jobs. Last Tuesday, I boiled maple sap the entire day. I was feeding the fire, changing filters and drawing off syrup for almost 14 hours. Thank goodness my dear wife was there to help me! It was an unseasonably warm day in the mid-seventies. The inside of the sugarhouse was very warm. I, dressed in my long sleeved flannel shirt, heavy jeans, leather apron, leather gloves and a hat, clothes all needed to allow me to push the fire as hard as possible, made me one very hot man! I drank water like a steel mill worker and kept the fire burning hot and the steam rolling out of the syrup.

Our season lasted three weeks this year. We boiled just over 10,000 gallons of sap that yielded 167.5 gallons of maple syrup. Our ratio was 60:1, due mostly to the soft maples in our woodland maple mix. The syrup stayed light most of the year and has our distinctive “buttery” taste. We had friends and family help us with the process and quite a few visitors. It is a wonderful time of year for me, but I have to say, I am glad that it is over…until next year!

I had an idea this year to try and collect condensate water from the boiling steam. I made a sort of plate that sat above the boiling sap. I thought water would condense on the plate and I could collect it to use for a source of hot water in the sugarhouse. My idea did work, but it didn’t collect enough water to be a stand alone system. I took water back each day and filled a stainless steel tank. The condensate water added to this amount, that helped quite a bit. I will need to improve on this idea, because there is promise in my efforts.

The plate and stainless steel eave trough that leads to the holding tank. It will all work out one day…I mean hey! the Wright Brothers started at Kitty Hawk and look where we are now.

March Madness!
March 15, 2021, 8:26 pm
Filed under: March 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

March 15, 2021

We have been busy in the sugarhouse making maple syrup. It is a sweet time of year, but very busy too. The maple takes up many days, but the rest of the farm work must be done too. Our weather has been unseasonably dry for us. The temperature has been above average many days, but thankfully the nights have been cold, so the sap keeps running.

We also hosted the 2021 A-Tech senior class Horticulture students for a sap gathering farm field day last week. The horses were ambassadors who worked very hard. The kids all had a great time and I think they may have even learned a little.

We benefited from some willing workers as the class learned about forestry, small farming and all things maple!

So March Madness isn’t just found on basketball courts…it can be found in most any maple woods in spring. Here on this farm the “sap” runs… He also does animal chores, farm planning and other jobs around the farm!

Spring plowing will be underway soon, but first the maple madness continues…oh yeah…a baby horse should make the blog soon (about 30 days)…mama is starting to waddle a little when she walks.

Sap Weather Returns 2021
March 4, 2021, 11:37 am
Filed under: March 2021 | Tags: , , , ,

March 4, 2021

Today is the date that tells us what to do…March fourth! We are in maple season full swing. It is a favorite time of year for me. This picture was taken on March second. The air was crisp with an east breeze. The steam stayed a bit close to the ground, but made for a pretty picture. This was our first run of the year. It went well.

This photo shows the new sap rig in use. The horses pulled it easily even when loaded. It rolled along and travelled well on the muddy and bumpy sap roads.

We got the pans “sweet” as we boiled and condensed the sap. It takes awhile to get the sweet liquid to the density needed for syrup. Occasionally, we don’t even get any maple syrup from our first boil. We make a lot of steam and reduce the sap but run out of sap before it yields the yummy maple syrup. This year we had an ample supply of sap (1450 gallons) so we managed to make some syrup. From here on out, we will get syrup every time we boil.

This process is a lot of work. It is truly a labor of love. We make it the old-fashioned way. We gather the sap from tree to tree, using horses to pull the sap sled. We boil the sap over a wood fire, without the benefit of reverse osmosis. This takes longer, but allows for the flavor molecules to develop. I follow in the footsteps of my grandparents in this time honored vocation. I make syrup. I make memories and I get to relive my childhood just a bit. For me, this is a sweet deal!