Spring is in the air today and with the fine weather this week we were able to finish tapping. The sap is running a bit but not enough to collect and make syrup. The next step is to turn on the vacuum pumps, check for and repair any leaks in the pipeline system and test the sap transfer pumps.There is still lots of work to do before that taste of fresh made maple syrup. Snow and cold weather are in the forecast for later this week so it will be March before we make our first syrup.
Everyone asks if it will be a good season. That’s a very difficult question. What happens is almost fully dependent on favourable weather. So we would be guessing if we predicted the season. By April 15 we will have a definitive answer. It helps if everyone thinks positively so we are counting on you to do your part.
In my last blog I mentioned that we will be tapping our maple plantation for the first time. This is a picture of the plantation as it looks today.The trees are evenly spaced in straight lines which makes it convenient for tapping but not quite as picturesque as a naturally grown sugar bush. With the large crowns on these trees we expect the sap may have more sugar content than trees in our main sugar bush.
After a wet and dreary January its great to look forward to spring and the taste of fresh maple syrup. We will start tapping around the 17th of February and should be finished by the 25th. According to Wiarton Willy it should be an early spring so we need to be ready.
The big change this year is that for the first time we will be tapping some of the trees in our maple plantation that were planted in 1991. Trees should be 25cm in diameter for tapping and we have measured about 30 that meet this criteria with several more that will be ready in a year or two. There are about 450 trees in the plantation and eventually when all are tapped they will make a nice addition to our sugar bush.
In those dreary days in January there was nothing to do but write some rhymes about making maple syrup. This is a poem about making maple syrup using the more modern equipment.
The snow was gently falling
as we headed to the bush.
It’s warmer in the forecast
so it’s tapping with a rush.
Now tapping is a chore,
each tree must have its tap
connected to its pipeline
to collect the flowing sap.
Snowshoes are mighty handy
when deep snow is on the ground,
but not so good in bushes
when you have to turn around.
There is a lot of equipment
that has to work just right,
when things don’t go as planned
means working half the night.
Finally it’s over!
The trees are all tapped in.
The equipment all is humming
and we’re ready to begin.
To make our syrup the modern way
we flick a switch or two
and watch the golden nectar
come flowing out to you.
The taste of fresh made syrup,
that flavour can’t be beat,
s’worth all the fuss and bother
to get that special treat.
When all the syrup’s in the can
we’ve still got much to do.
There’s all the washing up
and cleaning through and through.
We’ve toiled away for hours
and our energy is spent.
We’ve had a bumper season,
but I’m awfully glad it’s “went”.
It’s time to close up the camp for another year. We will be open Sunday, April 28 then after that by chance or by appointment. With the rain and snow showers today it felt like maple syrup season all over again. Sunshine and warmer weather are in the forecast so maybe spring will finally arrive. To mark the end of the blog for this season here is a closing poem.
Another year has come and gone
A bumper one for sure
I’m very glad that it is done
It was all we could endure.
Sometimes the sap ran all day
Sometimes it ran all night
Sometimes it ran and ran
When we didn’t think it might.
So we boiled and boiled all day
We boiled again at night
Sometimes we still were boiling
When came the first daylight.
We packed the syrup in bottles
We packed the syrup in drums
We counted all our produce
And did our yearly sums.
We’ve syrup enough for orders
For candy and for tarts
And lots to offer clients
Or ship to foreign parts.
We thank you for your patronage
We hope you’ll come next year
When once again we’re open
Cause we’re planning to be here.
Click to enlarge image
We are now busy washing all our equipment for storage until next year. Also we need to back-flush the pipelines and tubing. The spiles are removed from the tree and the taphole immediately begins to heal and will sealed with new wood as the tree grows.Its a big job washing 6 miles of pipelines and 20 miles of tubing. It’s always a rush getting done before the black fly season.
The wild leeks are now poking through the leaf litter as well as the dog tooth violets.The leatherwood shrub will be one of the first to burst into flower. It has a small yellow flower that only lasts for two days. It’s called leather wood because the branches are of flexible and can be tied in knots without breaking. The bark was stripped by the natives and woven into strong rope. Also soon to appear will be the hepaticas and the small mayflowers.
Here is an interesting picture of a tree trunk being pecked to pieces by pileated woodpeckers. Obviously we’ll have to do some line repair when they cut through the trunk.
The camp will be open daily all this week and through the weekend. We will be closing the camp except by appointment starting April 29.
The season has ended. It has been our most productive season to date. One never knows from year to year what will happen. It is almost fully dependent on the weather. This year the sap ran through the night more than usual. This seems to occur when the temperature hovers around the freezing point and the atmospheric low pressure is below normal.It’s always a pleasant surprise to find our tanks full of sap in the morning.
The Kettle Boys and Shanty Men have of course shut down for the season. The snow has gone from the trails but there are wet spots and good waterproof footwear is essential.
The rain has stopped this morning and the birds are singing. Our resident male bluebird has returned and has claimed the bird house. There may be a shower or two later today but much more pleasant than the heavy rain yesterday. Sunday and Monday look very pleasant.
We are open as usual from 10 t0 5 all weekend.
We have enjoyed two very pleasant spring days. The sap continued to run but at a much reduced rate. With no frost at night and rain in the forecast we think the season will be over this week.The syrup has been Dark but still good flavour with no buddy taste. The season is shaping up as one of our best.
We will be open all weekend as usual.
Once again I am catching up on the blog after a busy weekend. The sap continued to run slowly but steadily all weekend and it ran again last night. The atmospheric pressure dropped to a very low level during the rain storm last night and is continuing to stay low today. The low pressure along with our vacuum system is stimulating the sap flow. We are very pleased to obtain this sap as we are now making Very Dark syrup with the strong flavour preferred by some people and which is also good for cooking.
We think the season is winding down due to the warm weather. But this year it is so unpredictable we may get another run of sap after a cool night or if the atmospheric pressure stays at a low level.In any case the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men are finished for this season. The trails are almost clear of snow except in our big gully which is still snowy and partly flooded. We expect this trail to be clear by the weekend.
With the production of Very Dark syrup yesterday, we now have all the grades of syrup available and we are busy putting all our orders together.If you are wondering about your order phone or email for an update. We are also phoning or emailing as we have time. Best for pickup midweek if that is convenient for you. As usual we are open 10 to 5.
Finally, I am getting a chance to catch up on the blog. The sap has run continuously since Thursday morning and is still running this evening but at a reduced flow rate. Our storage tanks were full this morning with about 6000 gallons of sap. It also ran very hard on Wednesday so we have had long hours of boiling this week. There is still sap in our tanks so we will be boiling again tomorrow. With the warm weather and no significant frost in the forecast the sap may stop flowing and the season could be winding down. The snow in the sugar bush has disappeared on the some hillsides but is still about a foot deep in most areas. The trees will not begin to bud until the snow is gone and the roots warm up. When the tree comes to life again, the sap, if any, that runs no longer makes good syrup. It has what we call a buddy taste which is unpleasant.
We have been restocking our shelves this week with maple products ready for the weekend. We do not have Very Dark syrup but we have all the other grades available. Maple tarts and maple fudge are favourites and will be available.
The Kettle Boys and Shanty Men started operating today and will be ready to go again in the morning. The forecast is for warm sunny weather so it should be an enjoyable weekend at the sugar bush. We will be open as usual from 10 to 5.
As predicted in my last blog when the sun came out today and it warmed up above freezing the sap burst from the trees. Another big sap run expected tomorrow so it’s turning out to be another bumper crop.We now have dark syrup and are busy filling our orders.
With yesterdays fresh snow on top of the crust animal tracks were very visible. Along with the usual deer and turkey tracks,fisher tracks were also visible. We also see bear tracks from time to time but none so far this year. There is nothing for them to eat until the fresh grass appears.One year a bear found our outdoor garbage bag and then tried to break into the camp for a taste of maple syrup. His or her paw prints were eight feet high on our back door.
A nice day in the forecast for Thursday, so a good opportunity to visit the sugar bush and see the sap gushing into our holding tanks.
What can one possibly say
Winter has returned today
With rain and sleet and lots of snow
And winds that swirl around and blow
But sugar makers are a not so sad
In fact we’re feeling rather glad
When once again we see the sun
The sap will run and run and run
We are busy today boiling the sap that ran yesterday and in the evening. No more sap expected until it warms up again. This cold weather will recharge the trees and we expect another good sap run when it warms up later this week.
The camp is open today as we are busy boiling and will welcome any visitors that make it through this nasty weather.