Closing time

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.

Washing Up Time

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.

End of Season

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.

Busy Weekend

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.

A Busy Two Days

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.

Sap Bursting From the Trees

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.

Winter Returns

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.

A Pleasant Weekend

After three weekends with not so nice weather we are enjoying a pleasant weekend. The sap continues to run although not so hard today as there was no frost last night.

It’s been very nice to welcome many return visitors to our camp each year. In fact, in our main camp we have a Wall of Honour to recognize long time visitors. This is our 46th year of operation and several people have been coming all the time and are now bringing their great grandchildren.  We try to keep our list up to date with three categories – 10 to 14 years, 15 to 24 years and  25 years and over.If you are not on the list or incorrectly listed we would be only to pleased to add your name or family name to the list.

All our activities are in full operation today. The trails are rather soft but passable with a bit of effort. Thje sun may break through this afternoon so it will be an enjoyable day at the sugar bush.

We are open until 5:pm

A Busy Week

The sap continues to flow and our tanks are full of sap again this morning. It is turning out to be a very good production year. After such a late start we were not sure what to expect but the continuing cool temperature  is excellent for maple syrup production.

Things to do at Fortune Farms on Maple Weekend include a visit to the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men. Some time for the kids young and old to play with the toys at the Kettle Boys. Make a souvenir plaque with the branding iron. Stop at the main camp to see the syrup pouring out of the evaporator. Have a maple tart or some taffy on the snow for a taste of maple and if you are full of energy enjoy a hike on our snowy trails.

We will be pleased to explain the syrup making process if this is your first visit to a sugar bush. If you have experience as a syrup maker we enjoy hearing your story including the possibility you boiled maple syrup on the kitchen stove and ended up with a sticky kitchen. Everyone that’s tried making syrup seems to have an interesting story to tell.

Here is Colin Stevenson with some of the toys at the Kettle Boys location. Some of them are quite challenging. They were made by Colin’s brother Tom or Shorty as he is known as a Kettle Boy.

We are open as usual 10:00 t0 5:00 all weekend. Dogs are welcome on a leash if they are well behaved. There may be other dogs here as well.