RicelandMeadows


Time to Tap!
March 8, 2015, 4:35 pm
Filed under: March 2015 | Tags: , , , ,
Here we go!

Here we go!

March 8, 2015

Here we go, the 2015 maple syrup season is off and running! Two days ago it was -9 degrees F. Today it is 40 F. I will get started tomorrow. The horses and equipment are ready to go. We will start tapping hoping to finish by the end of the day on Tuesday. There are lots of things to do, but so starts my favorite time of the year!

The snow has been settling, melting from the bottom up. It is still a little deep in the woods, but melting fast. The frozen trees will soon start waking up. I hope to be all ready when they do. The steam will be rising by the end of the week no doubt.

The weather looks like it will beat us up with sap, but hey…that is what it is all about!



Not This Week!
February 22, 2015, 11:21 am
Filed under: February 2015 | Tags: , , , , , ,
Ready, Willing & Waiting

Ready, Willing & Waiting

February 22, 2015

The cold will continue for the next ten days. I have cancelled my vacation for the upcoming week, choosing instead to take it the end of March. Hopefully I won’t have to move it to April 😮

I tried to take a walk through the woods yesterday afternoon. It didn’t take too long to abandon that idea. The snow is deep, mealy and has a crust several inches down that cracks you on the shins with every step. It is very laborious just trying to walk, tapping trees will take extreme effort, when the time comes.

My friend Paul, in New York state, has a sugarbush with 6500 taps. They often tap wearing snowshoes. I talked with him last week. He said the snow is too soft to hold them up this year. They had spent a whole day wading in waist deep snow to make a repair to his vacuum line. At least I don’t have to do that!!

I will say the snow is beautiful. The trees are all painted white this morning as a winter fog has frozen to all the branches. Jack Frost was busy last night, much to my delight. After all, if we are going to be delayed, we might as well enjoy the view!



Talk About a Tank!

I

reworked sap hauling tank

reworked sap hauling tank

February 12, 2015

What you are looking at, is the result of many drawings, much thought and lots of steel. I wanted to make the tank so it would slide on runners when the woods were soft, yet still roll down the road when needed. I wanted it to be more user friendly, hence the ladder. I wanted it to be safer for my grandchildren, so it has a platform and a safety rail.

A couple of years ago, I made a mess of our trails from using this tank and our tractor to gather sap. We were left with rutted up roads and trails. I am hoping that once the tires start to sink, it will slide on the steel runners. The horses will pull this instead of the sled and tank we normally use…at least I hope it works out that way,  😮

When we used this trailer in the past, we had to jump up on a small step. My jumping up days are pretty much behind me. Even the young guys didn’t like it by the end of the job. I am hoping the ladder and handrail makes this thing much easier to use. It holds 300 gallons of sap, 90 more than the sled and tank.

I will use three horses to pull it I think, not because I need that much horsepower, but because I can’t stand the sound of my third horse whinnying from the barn. It will also get all three horses ready for spring plowing. Work hardened horses ready for spring work, makes me thankful..in fact I will say… “Tanks a lot!”

 Ain't she a beaut?!

Ain’t she a beaut?!



It’s Time!
March 10, 2014, 9:44 pm
Filed under: March 2014 | Tags: ,
It's better after it has been boiled down!

It’s better after it has been boiled down!

March 10, 2014

   It is finally time for us to tap the Maple trees. The sap is running. Today we managed to get about 300 done. Our big day will be tomorrow. We hope to do 900 more 😮  Some folks tapped before now, but very few have made any syrup. It proved to be okay to wait, even though my off-farm job interfered by one day… It is still all good.

   The snow is still deep in parts of the woods. The ground is even frozen quite hard in places. The east facing hillside has thawed enough to be a very slippery mud slide… I slid, but it was not graceful 😮

   We will miss a little sap this run, but will be all set for the next one. I hope to get enough to boil and begin the process. It would be nice to have at least 1000 gallons to start with and we should get that…after all… It’s Time!



Agnoizing and waiting!
February 22, 2014, 9:21 pm
Filed under: February 2014 | Tags: ,
Josh and Rachel, tapping in 2013

Josh and Rachel, tapping in 2013

February 22, 2014

   Last week, the weather looked perfect for maple sap. I jumped at the chance to get ready. I kept an eye on the weather and the current conditions. I decided NOT to tap this past week. I think a few guys couldn’t resist the temptation, but I see another cold snap about to descend upon us with sub-zero temperatures…lasting at least ten more days.

   My woods were deep with snow, over 15 inches. The weather suddenly warmed on the frozen trees. It even rained quite hard. The woods that had been deep snow, became flooded much deeper than my boots. I agonized about tapping, but after talking with some experienced maple producers, I resisted the urge to tap the trees.

   Once a tree is tapped, the tree starts to try to heal that wound. The sap floods the tap. As the days turn into weeks, the hole begins to dry out. If I would have tapped this week, our holes would have been left to dry almost fourteen days before another weather pattern will arrive that may bring sap again. Waiting will give us fresh holes, eager trees and a little more time to be ready. If I missed any sap during this quick warm up, it was a negligible amount.

   We tapped too early last year in a haste to get started. We didn’t even make any syrup that first warm up. All we did was sweeten the pans. We had to battle ice in our bags last year as the trees would dribble during the day and freeze at night. Then we would get a nice warm up, but our bags were already half full of ice…the bags couldn’t hold all the fresh sap. We learned a BIG lesson last year.

   It looks like the deep freeze will return for most of next week. I am glad that I don’t have to worry about my equipment freezing up and breaking or bags filling with ice. The snow has melted to almost nothing now, so walking through the woods to tap will be an easier job too.

   The job of making maple syrup, is much like the job of haying…you can work your ass off, do everything right…but Mother Nature is in charge! She can be a fickle lady…so we will wait for her and Old Man Winter to get done arguing…in the meantime, we are agonizing and waiting 😮