A Cool Start to the Week

After two days of rainy and snowy weather on the weekend it was a pleasure to see the sun this morning. However, it did not get warn enough to stimulate much sap flow.The rest of the week looks favourable and we are looking forward to a sustained run of sap.

At our Clayton Sugar Bush two red shouldered hawks were screaming at each other. The bush is probably not large enough for two nests so we think they were having a very loud screaming contest for supremacy.They are easy to hear but hard to see as they are very much aware of human presence and stay hidden among the trees.

We are busy setting syrup aside for back orders. You can check the status of your order by phone or email. If it includes Dark syrup it will not be ready as we have yet to make any this season.

Here is picture of our newest Kettle Boy. Nathan has been in training for two years and is now fully proficient in the art of making Kettle Boy syrup. Its great to see a younger person ready to carry on the tradition of the Kettle Boys at Fortune Farms.

This is Maple Weekend coming up so many sugar bushes will be open for visitors. We welcome visitors and will have our usual range of activities.  We are open daily from 10 to 5.

The Clouds are Lifting

After a night of rain and snow the clouds are lifting and it looks like a pleasant afternoon. We are open as

usual and people are dropping in to pick up their syrup.

Here is a picture of the old camp as it appeared last weekend.
Steam is billowing from the cupola and inside the Shanty Men are busy making syrup.

The Kettle boys are also busy and the big evaporator is running to process a small amount of sap.


Typical Spring Weather

Some snowflakes in the air this morning but not too cold and as reported the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men are here and hard at work. We may have enough sap to boil later today.

With the continuing cool weather our syrup is still Amber in colour and one yesterday batch was Golden. No Dark syrup until we get warmer weather.This week was our annual inspection by CFIA, the federal agency for maple syrup regulation. We have been  approved since we applied 1990 and once again we passed inspection. It is quite extensive covering the facility and all our practices as well as the syrup.

On Sunday, March 30 a pancake breakfast is being served at Union Hall located on Wolf Grove Road about a 1 km east of our farm. A good opportunity to enjoy some country hospitality before or after a walk around the farm.

We are open now until 5:00 pm and will be open tomorrow from 9:00 to 5:00.

Season Slowly Progressing

The season is progressing in fits and starts with no long runs of sap. Every week we think things will improve but its warm one day and cold the next. The good news is that the syrup we have made ranges from light to dark amber and is of excellent quality.

When the big evaporator is running and up to speed we make syrup at about 2 litres of syrup a minute.The picture shows  syrup streaming out of the evaporator unto the first filter. Syrup when first boiled contains crystals of what we call sugar sand. It is mostly calcium and some other elements which are natural constituents of tree sap. If it is not removed the syrup would be very gritty and unpleasant. We use a pre-filter as shown to remove most of the sugar sand and a pressure filter to polish the syrup so that it is crystal clear. We often wonder how the native people were able to filter their syrup. Perhaps it wasn’t a priority for them.

The Kettle Boys will be boiling this week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Shanty Men will be boiling on Saturday and Sunday. The trails are still snowy but passable.

We don’t serve pancakes or food other then maple tarts and candy. There is an excellent buffet meal with pancakes and maple syrup at Temple’s Sugar Bush and Restaurant at Ferguson Falls on weekends. Its about 12 kms from our farm.

We will be open as usual 10 to 5.



That Sunshine is Like a Spring Tonic

Two beautiful bright days of sunshine helps to revive one’s spirits after such a long winter. A bit cool for good sap weather but enough ran on Monday to boil. Not so much today but we Looking forward to the remainder of the week with warmer weather.

No new birds to report but the crows are very active and are probably staking out their nesting sites. The snow is slowly sinking and compacting but there is still very about two feet in the sugar bush. The jet stream still has not moved north but some warm air has managed to come our way from western Canada.

There are not as many visitors midweek and we are not so busy so it’s a good time to come for a walk around and visit with the staff. Two of our granddaughters, Melanie and Sarah, are here this week along with great grandson Gus. We expect granddaughter Laura and great grandson Harvey here this weekend. It’s great to have so many family here at this time of year.

A good supply of rich flavour light amber and darker amber syrup is available along with other maple products.

We are open 10 t0 5 daily.

Another Break in the Action

A good sap day yesterday but cold again today and maybe tomorrow before warm weather returns. The good news is that everything is running well and the syrup we have produced so far is of excellent quality.

Sap flow from the trees is dependent on two factors-the temperature and the atmospheric pressure. The temperature needs to be above freezing to warm the trees and if there are any dips in the pipe lines to thaw the lines. Sunshine on the tree tops helps to build up the pressure inside the tree to start sap flow.
The maple tree and some other tree species have open cell structures filled with liquid and carbon dioxide gas. It is the expansion and contraction of this gas with changing temperature that pumps the sap up and down the tree in the spring.The sap will run as long as the pressure inside the tree is greater than the atmospheric pressure. We often get the best sap runs when a low pressure system arrives ahead of a storm.

Snowshoes are still needed for travel in the bush off the trails. However, the snow around the tree trunks is melting allowing moisture and warm air to reach the tree roots. This allows fresh sap to be drawn up from the roots which increases the sap flow and sap sweetness.

This is brief explanation of the key factors in sap flow.However, we continue to be surprised by the vagaries of sap flow so there are still aspects we don’t fully understand.

The red shouldered hawks appeared yesterday right on schedule.They have been returning around this date for as long as we can remember. One year in late april we were thrilled to see their courtship flight.

Bright sunshine this morning and a pleasant day for a walk around the sugar bush,


A Beautiful Day at the Sugar Bush

Lots of sunshine this morning and warming up quickly. It should be quite pleasant later this morning. We are open as usual and the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men will be busy boiling. The trails are snowy but should be firm enough to walk on today.

Here is a picture of the original Kettle Boys – Shorty,Slim and Tubby. They who have been entreating visitors to Fortune Farms for twenty years. They look forward to once again to greeting their many visitors  providing a taste of their Kettle Boy syrup and maple fudge.

Several people have called about bringing dogs. Dogs are welcome as long as they are on a leash and well behaved.They are not allowed in buildings.

Our hours are 10 to 5.


Sunny but Cool Weekend

A busy day yesterday as we had our best run of sap so far this year. The Kettle Boys and Shanty Men are well stocked with sap and will be operating on Saturday and Sunday. A bit cool this morning but should warm up in the bright sunshine by late morning.

We will be open today and tomorrow from 10:00 to 5:00.

Sugar Moon Very Bright

If you were outside last night the light from the sugar moon was exceeding bright. Evidently the moon is closer than usual to the earth. With no clouds the temperature dropped below freezing and the sap stopped running. However we collected enough sap today to produce another small batch of syrup. With snow and rain in the forecast food Friday we may not collect much more sap until Saturday which is now expected to be sunny and above freezing. Both Saturday and Sunday now look like good days to visit the sugar bush.

The jet stream still has a bulge to the South and we continue to be subjected to near winter conditions.There is some indication that the jet stream is moving further north. Lets hope so as I think we all have had enough of winter.

Our camp will be open on the weekend and during the week as well.

First Day of Spring

A beautiful sunny warm day and the sap began to run late morning and is still running this evening. If there is no frost the sap may run all night, particularly if the atmospheric pressure drops a bit.The sugar content in the sap has increased to 2.6% which makes a big difference in our rate of syrup production. So I think we can say the season has finally started.

The Kettle Boys will be setting up tomorrow getting ready to operate their kettles this weekend. The Shanty Men have already boiled a bit and will also be operating this weekend.Saturday ay be a bit cool but Sunday looks like a perfect day for a visit to the sugar bush.