Maple Syrup: Nature's Spring Tonic. -- Since 1918

Category: 2008: Season 91 Page 1 of 3

The 90th Season is in the Books

Final counts:
3070 gallons of sap
293 quarts of finished syrup
73 gallons and 1 quart of finished syrup
42 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of finished syrup (42:1)
27 days to the season from first tapping to buckets off

We had just about ideal conditions for the 2008 season. The Fall was not too dry so the trees could store the starch the need to make sap. The Winter was cold and snowy. We had a snow cover of 15” – 20” in the woods. Even in early March it was still getting down to 0 at night. As March progressed we got the alternating freezing nights and warm sunny days that stimulate sap flow. We fought ice only once on Easter Sunday when the trees started to run well. The week of March 23rd was busy with the heaviest sap runs. That 660 gallons of sap on March 26 ranks as one of the largest we ever collected at once. We had no snow or rain storms. We didn’t even have much mud as the snow melted slowly enough that the thawing ground could absorb it. About three times we were out cooking until 1:30 am or so, but that’s part of the romance of making maple syrup…”Long pleasant hours, few spent in bed.”

All in all we are thankful for the crop and pleased with the results.

The woods enters its prettiest time of year during the next few weeks as the wild flowers come out. May Flowers. Trilliums. Dog Tooth Violet. Jack-in-the-Pulpit. And many others all provide a colorful reminder of nature’s beauty.

We hope over the next year to rebuild our steam roof. We want to put hinges on the panels so we don’t have to climb onto the roof each year to open and close it. Climbing on the roof is probably the most dangerous part of the season. And we have to fill the wood shed again. Its quite bare.

In October is the annual maple syrup producers meeting. This year it will be in Springfield, MA.

And we plan to be back here in late February or early March of 2009 for season 91.

All Buckets Back in the Building

Today was sunny and warm, about 60. We got all the buckets, covers and spouts collected up and back in the building. They are stored until January or February of 2009 when they will be washed and readied for next season. There is still about 20 gallons of sap to boil down and finish. The flue pan of the evaporator is filled with water now so it can be cleaned. The storage tanks are washed out and clean for next season too. Those tanks are stainless steel so they wash up real easy. A bucket of water. Once over with a mop and they are clean. It will be day or two until the last of sap is finished and bottled. And a few more days until everything is cleaned up. But most the big work is done. Which is good because we are all getting tired.

We will write closing remarks about the season in a few days.

Today’s count
400 buckets, covers and spouts down and stored back in the building
3 visitors

Winding Down

Today was sunny and up to about 50. The weather forecast shows we loose the freezing nights and it gets too warm during the days. So this is the end. The spouts were wet. Some would have dripped good. But our pails are already off the hook and on the ground to dry. About half the buckets, covers and spouts are completely off. We expect to finish getting all buckets, covers and spouts in tomorrow. The storage tanks are empty. The last of the sap is in the evaporator. We bottled in the morning, 11 quarts. Finishing the last of the sap always seems to take a long time as we can’t fire much. At some point we transfer to the gas burner were it takes longer because we can’t get as much heat as the wood evaporator.

Today’s count
11 quarts bottled
273 quarts for the season

Last Collection

Today started sunny. Got up to 48. This afternoon turned cloudy. At 9:15 am we headed out with the tractor and collecting tank to pick up whatever sap was there. As we emptied the pail we took it off the tree and turned it upside down to drain and dry out. We ended up collecting 350 gallons of sap. That makes 3070 gallons of sap for the season. We started boiling at 2:30 pm. By 11:30 pm we had 200 gallons processed. And then we bottled 21 quarts yet tonight.

Today’s count
350 gallons of sap
3070 total gallons of sap for the season
21 quarts of syrup bottled today
262 quarts of syrup so far for the season
3 visitors

Quiet Day

It was down to 20 last night. Today was sunny and up to 45. The trees did drip. Not enough to collect yet, but we should be able to collect tomorrow. And that may be our last collecting as we start to bring the season to a close. Several reasons.

 

1.) We already have over 60 gallons (241 quarts) of syrup which is our “normal.”
2.) We are running out of firewood. Our wood shed is kind’a bare.
3.) We are running out of time. We have other commitments we need to get to next week so we have to wrap this up.

We started washing bottles off today. When we fill the bottles they always get sticky. Some syrup always seems to spill over. Before we put our labels on we have to wash them off. And we are having a special sticker label made up saying “1918-2008 90 Years.”

Today’s count
2 visitors

Will There be More Sap?

Today started cold,windy and cloudy. We didn’t t get into the woods until about 9:00 am. Started the fire under the evaporator. Our goal was to empty our storage tanks. We had about 150 gallons of sap. By Noon we had a batch of syrup ready. By the time we had that all filtered, finished and bottled it was 3:00 pm and our tanks were almost empty. By 4:30 pm we were in back in the house.

The question now is will there be more sap? We have had a good run. Tomorrow and Thursday will tell the tale. Its forecast to be sunny and in the 40s. If we don’t get sap we are done.

Today’s count
11 quarts of syrup bottled
241 quarts of syrup total
2 visitors
A dusting of snow

We Beat the Rain

Today started cloudy. Rain was forecast starting around Noon. Since it wasn’t raining in the morning we went out to collect. We expected some sap but were surprised to pickup 230 gallons. We finished collecting about 1:00 pm just as the rain started. Our timing was perfect. It would not have been fun collecting in the rain. Its better to collect in snow than rain. We had to make a water run in the rain which was unpleasant. But the rain is making the last of the snow disappear fast. Only large piles remain.

We bottled more. The syrup is getting darker. The season may be ending. We will see what Wednesday and Thursday bring. Its forecast for sunny days and freezing nights. There may be a sap run. If not, we are finished.

Today’s count
230 gallons of sap
18 quarts bottled
230 total quarts bottled
1/2” rain

Woodshed Looking Bare

Today was cloudy and cool. It did warm up to 37 or so, but without the sun, no new sap. We spent the day boiling down yesterday’s collection. Our tanks are empty now. When everything is finished we should have around 60 gallons of finished syrup now, which is a normal year. There may be a few runs yet, but we think the biggest runs are past. Its been a busy week. Our woodshed is looking bare. We have burned a lot of wood.

Today’s count
21 quarts of syrup bottled
212 total quarts of syrup

More Sap

The day was sunny and warm, but with a east wind. It was cold overnight, 20, so it took a while for the trees to warm up. We went to visit another maple syrup producer. They tap 2500. They said they were having a good year too. When we got back we went out to collect. To our surprise we collected 450 gallons of sap. We did not think there was that much sap, but it must have dripped pretty good after warming up. We bottled more too. A still lots of sugar sand. If we run through the filter press twice we get clear syrup. Its more work, but worth it. We boiled until about 1:00 am.

Today’s count
450 gallons of sap
17 quarts of syrup bottled
190 total quarts of syrup

Gloves

The day stated sunny, but cold. It was down to 22 overnight. About 1:00 pm the wind stopped and it warmed. The trees dripped some, but not enough to collect. Maybe tomorrow. Its forecast to be similar to today.

We did get caught up with bottling. Bottled three times. About 49 quarts. And we emptied the storage tanks. We are ready for more sap.

About gloves. We wear gloves often. We need them when bringing in wood, firing the evaporator or handling the hot syrup. But we also have to take them off often to wash things, read the hydrometer or handle more delicate things. Often we take off the gloves to do something, but when we need them again a few minutes later we can’t find them. We spend a lot of time walking around looking for our gloves. Its a small building and you would think we would remember, but when you are busy its hard to remember where the gloves are. We often laugh at ourselves for running around looking for our gloves.

Today’s count
0 gallons new sap
173 quarts total syrup bottled

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