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

Category: 2016: Season 99 Page 1 of 5

Radio And Clock In. Check

Completed all the clean up.    Washed the floor and brought the tanks inside.  Then cleaned and stored equipment at the house.  Washed the buckets and milk cans.  Done by 1:45 PM.  The radio and clock are the last things to bring in from the building and the symbolic end.  

Snow flurries most of the day.  We expected more snow but didn’t look like it would snow much.   Then from 2:30 PM to 4:30 PM it did snow harder.  No real accumulation, but everything is white again.   We did not get the 1”-3” forecast.  The wind is blowing around what did fall.

Grilled hamburgers and brats for dinner.  In the snow.

Tomorrow at 5:45 AM we leave for the airport.  We’ll miss Wisconsin.  The trip back was restful and helped restore our sleep pattern which was disrupted by a bad cold in January.  Plan to return in Autumn to paint the building.

Song of the season:  Sound of Silence, Disturbed

R/O Clean. Check

As dawn broke a snow squall moved in.  Covered the ground in white.  Needed the insulated coveralls again because it was cold.  Into the woods by 8:00 AM to rinse the R/O then drain and disconnect hoses before bringing it to the house for storage.  Decided to use SMBS in the storage water for the membrane.  That means we must do a soap wash before using it next season.

Cleaned the bottling and finishing pans.  Cleaned the storage tanks.  Disconnected the propane tank.  Brought most the equipment back to the house.  Tomorrow we sweep and wash the floor then bring in the water storage tank.

The mechanic brought back the H tractor starter.  He rebuilt it.  Said it was bad.  It was still the original starter so over 70 years old.

1”-3” of snow forecast for tomorrow.  The weather forecast for the next 5 days looks favorable for sap.    Sites on vacuum could  harvest sap yet.

Back to the house by 5:30 PM.

Avoided The Rain

Into the woods by 7:15 to start the wash cycles on the R/O.  We have to thoroughly wash the membrane for storage until next year.  The tank heater helps, but it still takes time to circulate the wash water through until it reaches 113 degrees.  And we have to do multiple wash cycles.   It will run until 10:00 or 11:00 PM tonight.   Fortunately it has temperature sensors and will shut it self off when it reaches 113 degrees.

A snow squall last night starting around 8:00 PM and lasting about two hours left us with white snow cover.   By morning the temperature rose and snow turned to rain and everything melted.  It rained through the morning.   But we avoided the rain this year: cleaned the evaporator yesterday and R/O cleaning takes place in doors.

Two days to complete everything.

Two Of Three Completed

15 overnight.  Where was this weather in March?  Sunny but cold wind today.    Needed the insulated coveralls again.  Made it up to 40.

Into the woods by 8:00 AM to clean the evaporator.    There was ice on it as the cleaning water froze overnight.   It cleaned up easily.  And we were not cleaning it in the rain this year!  As is custom, the bottom that faces the fire is as clean as the inside.  You would eat off the bottom; its that clean.

Buckets and covers in.  Check
Evaporator clean.  Check
R/O clean.  Pending

Two of the three big tasks are completed.  Back to the house by 3:00 PM.

59 Gallons

That’s the total crop for the season.  Below average.  70 gallons would be average.  The two weeks of warm weather was the difference.  Now we are getting the freeze/thaw cycles we need but the taps are not fresh enough to harvest the sap.  It was 25 last night again. But only about 34 today with a cold North wind.  Snow flurries again too.    But the sun appeared after 3:00 PM.

Into the woods by 10:30 AM to get syrup on the finishing pan.   It was ready by 12:30 PM.  We bottled 14 quarts, 1 pint and 6 250 ml.

The mechanic came to look at the tractor.  Had it running quickly.   Its the starter.  A gear is jamming.  He took the starter to rebuild it.

While the syrup was on the finishing pan we took the cart to start picking up the buckets and covers.   After bottling we resumed bucket pickup.  They are all in.   Evaporator and R/O to clean yet.

Tonight in the 20s again.  Back to the  house by 6:00 PM.

A Lot Of Waiting

Into the woods by 8:00 AM to cook the sap from the evaporator.  It was only 25 gallons but took about 7 hours.  The front syrup pan does not boil as much as the flue pan.    It was frustrating waiting for it to cook.   We slowly tapered off the heat so we could empty the pan with just about no fire under it.  The final batch will be 20-24 quarts.  More then we expected.  Back to the house by 6:00 PM.

Started the day by taking off the flue pan to rise out the big stuff.  The evaporator is actually not that bad.   The R/O removes a lot of the sugar sand so it does not accumulate.

Got the tractor to get a tank of water.   After the tank was full, the tractor did not start.   Used a smaller cart to get the tank to the woods.   The ground was frozen because it was 20 last night otherwise that cart couldn’t pull it.  The tractor is still outside in  the yard.  Tried the battery charger too.  No success.  It doesn’t even turn over.   Same as the problem from February 27.  We’ll call the mechanic in the morning.   

The outside faucet we use to fill the tank was frozen.    Used our new paint striper to melt the ice in the pipe.

Green sprouts are starting to push up in the woods.  Spring is coming and plants are retuning to life.  But it was cold this morning.  About 25 with a cold wind when we went into the woods..  Everything was white from yesterday.  Put on the insulated coveralls.    Snow squalls most of the day again.  By the end of the day the sun briefly appeared.   It did reach 42 but tonight it drops to 25 again.

All Buckets Down

Into the woods by 8:00 AM get syrup on the finishing pan.    While it heated we returned to the buckets.   Finished taking down all the buckets and spouts by 3:00 PM however there was a break of several hours for bottling.   The buckets and covers are still in the woods up side down to dry.  We’re hoping for a window of dry weather the next few days so we can get them all in and stored for next season.

Syrup was ready by 10:30.  Bottled 17 quarts and  1 pint.    Its darker but sill looks nice. 

We had snow squalls all day.  A few minutes of intense snow then sunshine again.    Nothing accumulated.  But right now it snowing hard with ¼ to ½ inch accumulation.  Everything is white again.  Won’t last.

Once all the buckets were down we turned out attention to the evaporator.   Took out about 15 gallons of sap.  Expecting 2-3 gallons of syrup from it.   Tomorrow we get a tank of water and start the fire to clean the pan while we finishing the remaining sap.

Back to house by 4:30 PM.

Taking Down Buckets

Started taking down buckets and pulling spouts today.  25% to 30% are down already.  We’ll see what the weather is like tomorrow before continuing.  Snow is forecast and we may not want to take down buckets with snow on the ground because the buckets won’t dry out.

Bottled a milk can of syrup:  27 quarts.  Into the woods by 11:30 AM to get the syrup on the finishing pan.  Then started taking down buckets.  Syrup was ready by 2:30 PM for bottling.  Back to the house by 3:30 PM.

Avoiding the Rain

The past two years we got caught in the rain during cleanup.   We hope to avoid the rain this year.  We should have a few more days for cleanup so we can plan around rainy days.

It rained today.  Over the weekend we may get snow again as a colder weather pattern returns. 

Made some calls to find out the best way to wash the membrane for storage.  It should get two soap wash cycles.  Still have to decide if we want to use SMBS.  It would help keep the membrane clean and bacteria free but it would require a soap wash to start the season next year.  The challenge with a soap wash is we would not have R/O water that is mineral free.  We would have to use well water.  Our well water is pretty good but not as pure as R/O water.

All Quiet In The Woods

Cloudy all day.  Light showers this afternoon, but didn’t amount to anything.  Did not freeze overnight.     Trees not producing any sap that we can harvest. 

We have to get into clean up mode next.

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