Slow but Steady

For several  days  the temperature has reached just 2 degrees and the sap has run at some of the  trees. It is rather an awkward situation as the trees warm up sooner than our pump lines which often have an ice blockages.  We have bypass dump tanks at the pump stations to hold some sap but its always a toss up to see if the lines open up before the tanks overflow.  This is not a problem when the temperature goes to 3 or 4 degrees with sunshine.  The good news is that we have been able to make a considerable amount of syrup from these small sap flows. It looks like this weather pattern will not change for some time and in fact it may turn colder.We have kind of giving up following the weather forecasts as each channel seems to have a different opinion and they are not very accurate. We are hoping for a warm weekend but right now this does not look very promising.

This year we have initiated a Photo Contest. Please visit our Facebook page for the details. The prize is a luncheon for two at Temple’s Restaurant.

We are open every day from 10:00 to 5:00 and we always have taffy on the snow regardless of the weather.

 

Warm Enough for Sap

The trees really want to produce sap. The temperature hovered around 3 degrees, not normally enough to produce much sap flow but once again we were surprised and collected 2ooo or more gallons of sap. Tomorrow the weather looks very similar to today so we will be boiling on our big evaporator as well as at the kettles and wood fired evaporator. The trails are snowy but passable and it is very interesting to see all the animal tracks in the fresh snow.

All our equipment seems to working well now that we have our pumps fixed. The syrup is Amber (or medium) in colour with a good flavour so the season is progressing  favourably. It’s a good time to visit for a taste of fresh syrup or taffy on the snow.

The Weekend Looks Promising

Lots of fresh snow here and the trees are very pretty with the snow on their branches. The weather is expected to moderate on the weekend — not enough for a big sap run but reasonably pleasant for a visit to the sugar bush. The Kettle Boys and Shanty Men will be in operation as there is some sap available. We have fresh syrup available along with our other maple products and a new batch of maple tarts. The trails are snowy but passable and of course all the paths around the camp are plowed for easy walking.

We are open from 10:00 to 5:00 daily.

Winter Weather Returns.

Like last year it seems we will have two seasons this year. An early season in February and a late season after March 15, the more traditional start date in this area. The weather turned cold on Sunday and may remain cold or cool for at least a week. It gives us a chance to rest and get ready for the next run.  We have made about 25% of our usual production so it was well worthwhile tapping early.

So far the syrup has been light Amber in colour with an excellent flavour. The next run will probably turn darker particularly if the temperature rises about 5 degrees celsius.  There is a surprising amount of snow in  the sugar bush which will help to prolong the season even if it turns very warm.

Later in the week we will confirm our weekend activities. We will of course be open and we hope to have enough sap to supply the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men.

 

A Nice Surprise

The temperature slowly rose from -2 degrees at 8:00 am  to +2 degrees at noon and the sap began to run very hard and is still running at 7:00 pm. Normally the temperature needs to reach  4 or 5 degrees for this volume of sap flow. After 40 years we continue to be surprised at the vagaries of sap flow. This is a nice surprise as we didn’t expect any fresh sap until Monday.

So it will be a busy day tomorrow. The temperature is expected to be lower than today but who knows there may be more sap.

It may be cool tomorrow but all our activities will be in full swing and we will have a warm up fire along the trail for visitors.

A Break in the Action

No sap today so we had a chance to catch up and have a bit of a rest as it has been a busy week.

The sap sugar content in the sap has steadily decreased this week from 2.8% on Monday to 1.7% yesterday. This means a lot more processing as it takes 50 litres of sap for a litre of syrup at this level of sweetness. The nitre that precipitates out of the syrup, which we remove by filtering, has also changed from a very fine clay coloured powder to the more traditional yellow crystal which is commonly called sugar sand. As a result the early syrup which is usually golden in colour is as a light amber. The flavour is good which is what really matters but we need some golden syrup for those that prefer the very delicate flavour of this syrup and also for maple butter and candy. We hope that as the roots of the trees thaw out we will once again get sweeter sap and a chance to make some golden syrup.

The first few days of production each year are often  challenging. This year the pipeline system had fewer leaks that usual due to a lot of preseason maintenance. However, we had some pump problems. One pump turned out to be too small to keep up with the sap flow and we replaced it with our larger spare pump. Another pump ran dry damaging the seal so it had to be replaced. Fortunately we found a new pump at one of the dealers and by rearranging pumps we were once again back in operation at all the pumping stations. Replacing pumps at the remote pumping stations requires a lot of steps and time. The reverse osmosis system and the evaporator are both working well.

The Kettle Boys set up today and will be operating this weekend. The Shanty Men have already made some syrup and will also be in operation. We have amber syrup for sale along with maple butter, maple sugar, maple mustard, maple vinegar and on Sunday maple fudge. There will be taffy on the snow and the usual opportunity to visit all the locations and the trails.

Our open hours are 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and we look forward to greeting  all visitors once again.

The Sap keeps running

It has been almost ideal sap weather since the sap began to run on last Sunday. So far we have only made light colours syrup We thought it would be Golden but on checking it is a very light amber. It has that light early season flavour which is particularly good as a topping and preferred by many people as their syrup of choice.

The weather is forecast to continue on the mild side so we expect more sap. The Kettle Boys are planning to set up for the weekend and the Shanty Men have already made some syrup. There is some snow on the trails but a visitor today walked our longest trail and enjoyed seeing all the animal tracks. The woodpeckers are busy drumming on the trees which is a sure sign of spring.

 

A New Record

We have just made our first syrup of the season this afternoon. This is the earliest we have made syrup and it seems that February is now the new normal for the start of the maple season in this area. That’s about three weeks earlier than the traditional start just 20 years ago. Another sign of global warming.The weather looks promising all week so we will be open this weekend. We will have early season Golden or extra light syrup plus maple butter and maple candy for sale. We also expect the Kettle Boys and Shanty Man to be in operation. Still 4 or 5 inches of snow in the bush so the trails will be slushy,

We’re Ready, Tapping is all Done!

We managed with two teams to install our 7400 taps in five days. We tapped through the wet weather so we would be ready as next week looks like the start of the season. There is still 6 t0 8 inches of snow in the bush. Today the snow was frozen and walking was easy. No snowshoes so it was one of the best tapping days we can remember.

Next task is setting up the evaporator and all the other equipment and of course doing tubing repairs which turn up during tapping. Monday and Tuesday look very promising for the first sap flow.

We can’t wait for that taste of fresh syrup.

Upcoming Events 2018

The maple season is fast approaching. This is family weekend Feb 17 to Feb 19 and the Kettle Boys will be setting up at Winterlude at Confederation Park. They will have their usual assortment of toys and a warm fire under their boiling kettle.

A good place to visit for pancakes and fresh maple syrup is Temple’s Sugar Bush at Ferguson Falls. They are opening for the season on March 1.

The Lanark and District Maple Syrup Producers Association Tapping Out ceremony is being held this year on March 3 at the Horton Homestead Farm near Lansdowne. This will be an official tree tapping to signify the beginning of the season, fun and games and food.

Tapping will begin at our farm next week and we should be ready for that first run of sap by Feb 28.