Spring is Slowly Making an Appearance

The recent long spell of cool cloudy weather has been good for sap production. The cool weather helped keep the sap cool and as a result the syrup has been Golden or light Amber in colour and taste. We expect these conditions to continue until Friday evening when cold weather returns just in time for the weekend. We are not sure why every weekend brings cold or stormy weather, but that seems to be the rule. We will be open in any case.

Migratory birds are now returning to this area. A migratory robin was singing in our yard yesterday morning proclaiming his territory for the coming season. The red shouldered hawks are back right on schedule and once again planning to nest in our woods. Sand hill cranes and geese are flying over looking for open water. A neighbour reported blue birds checking out his boxes. The crows are busy making their usual cawing racket and the chickadees are signing their spring song. Lots of bird activity to keep us entertained!

The snow continues to disappear and is now only 2 or 3 inches deep in the woods and sheltered areas. We may get some fresh snow on Sunday which will be good for the sugar bush and trees.

Not too busy at the camp so its a good time to visit and pick up your syrup. Call ahead to 613 256 5216 to check on your order.

Warm weather on the way

Warm weather is coming this weekend. If there is no frost tonight, we expect the sap to run all night and provide an ample supply for syrup making tomorrow. So far sap runs have been modest but the sweetness is steadily increasing from 1.4% to close to 3%. This makes a big difference to the production of syrup, as the amount of water that needs to be removed from the sap is substantially decreased.

Plans are underway to once again open our camp and trails to visitors with some Covid-19 protocols in place. The Shanty Men and the Kettle Boys will be operating, as well as the main camp. Lots of snow still on the trails so suitable footwear is essential.

A big pileated woodpecker created this hole in one of our maple trees at the road while searching for ants. If you see this illusive bird maybe you can snap a picture!

 A fresh pileated woodpecker hole

Washing the Lines Finally Complete

In spite of cold and rainy weather we have finished washing all the lines and the bush is buttoned up until next spring. There is always the job of regular maintenance and the risk of serious damage from a high winds or an ice storm.So we are never idle.

I mentioned that the wild flowers are starting to appear in the woods.They haven’t progressed very far  since last week.The picture is of the blossom on a leatherwood bush.They are not very large about 1/2 an inch or so and last only a day or two. The picture was taken by Jim Robertson  a family friend from Ottawa and very accomplished photographer. He had to time his visit just right to get this exquisite shot. Leatherwood is a small bush that grows under the closed canopy of a mature maple woodlot. It prefers a moist, protected site and may grow to seven feet in height.

Our camp is open daily from 12 to 1 for syrup pick up. Best to phone the camp at 613 256 5216 to check before making the trip.

Leatherwood blossom

The Washing up Begins

Today we started the long process of washing our equipment, dismantling and storing the RO machine and back-flushing the lines. It’s the same amount of work regardless of the production. Fortunately we had another bumper crop, similar to 2019, so the cleaning up doesn’t seem quite so onerous.

The pick up of syrup outside the camp is working well. We plan to stay open  for nowon a  day to day basis but only from 12 to 1. It would be much appreciated if you would send an email confirming your order and when you plan to come. That way we can have your order ready for pickup.

Should the virus situation worsen we may have to close until the danger passes.

The Sap Keeps Running

The weather, while not ideal for sap production, is favourable and the sap keeps flowing. It is turning our to be a bumper crop but there is some uncertainty in the industry about the market. We continue to stockpile in the hope that Coved-19 will run its course and things will get back to normal.So far the syrup has all been of the lighter grades with very good flavour. Some sunshine and warmer weather should bring on darker syrup.

The  pick up of syrup outside the camp is working well and safe distancing can be maintained.  If  you are planning to do this call ahead to 613 256 5216 so your oder will be ready.

One of our clients called my attention to  an interesting article in the North Grenville Times about the earliest recorded information about maple syrup. Evidently there are records of the native people offering early explorers “a sweet and very pleasant liquor”. There is no mention of maple sugar as experiments have shown that it would have been almost impossible to raise the boiling sap to sugar temperatures in birch bark or clay vessels. It must have been a spring drink as there would have been no way to store the syrup without it going moldy. Later on when iron pots came into use there are reports of the production of large quantities of maple sugar, which can be stored. That still leaves the question in my mind as to how the natives cut enough wood to make all this sugar. Anyone who has made even a small quantity of maple syrup or  sugar on an open kettle cam attest to the amount of wood required.

Plan for March 17

We plan to be open for syrup pick up on March 17. We want to limit the number of people in the camp at one time some may ask you to wait outside if we are busy. We  want to follow the guidelines on social distance as best we can and we want to stay open as long as it is permitted;

The sap began to run late this afternoon but has now slowed down. A warm front is moving in so the sap  should be running again by midnight.That means we will be boiling tomorrow.

A walk on the trails in the fresh air is a good way to avoid the virus.

The Kettle Boys have closed for the season and the Shanty Men are on open a day to day basis. Our open hours are 10 t0 5 daily until further notice.

A Busy Week

It was nice to have a break on Wednesday with no sap due to the cold weather. It gave us a chance to empty our sap holding tanks and evaporator,  do a bit of cleaning and make some  minor repairs. The sap started running again today about noon  and will probably run all night as there is no frost in the forecast. The syrup this week has been mostly Dark Amber corresponding to the old grade of Medium. So we now have Golden, Light Amber, Dark Amber  as well as a small quantity of Dark from last year’s production available for sale.Tomorrow we will be setting aside syrup to fill back orders and for Golden and Amber syrup.

This weekend the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men will be operating and welcoming visitors with stories and toys and taste of fresh syrup. We will be taking special precautions because of the  virus and since it is an open area environment the risk of infection is minimal.

As usual we are open from 10 t0 5 daily.

A Nice Sap Run

The warm weather and bright sunshine stimulated a good sap run on Sunday, Sunday night and today. However, sap flow has now dropped off and we need a good frost to recharge the trees. Tonight  there will be a super full moon meaning the moon is closer to the earth than usual and maybe this will bring a change in the weather. I always seem to be talking about the weather but our production is dependent on the right weather conditions so that syrup makers sort of live from forecast to forecast.

We are still making Golden and Light Amber syrup. We think the next cycle will bring the darker syrups.Quality so far is excellent with good fresh syrup flavour.

We are now open daily from 10 to 5.

 

Surprising Sap Run

Every year we are surprised when the sap runs. Today, in spite of snow flurries and cool weather, the sap is running well. We are not complaining just surprised.

Yesterday I posted that we were making Golden and Light syrup. I should have said Light Amber. Even syrup makers stumble a bit between the old and new grading systems. Light Amber is more or less equivalent to the old classification of Light. Dark Amber is equivalent to Medium on the old system. We sort out Amber syrup into these two categories as we find the Amber classification covers too wide a spectrum.

Spring is definitely in the air. The birds seem to be more active at the feeder and a chickadee was singing its spring song, fee-bee,for the first time today. The maple trees seem very eager to produce sap so they too are getting ready for a new growing season.

We will be open tomorrow and Sunday at 10 am to provide a taste of fresh made maple syrup.

First Syrup of the Season

We collected enough sap from Tuesday morning to noon today to process our first small batch of syrup. The sap had a sugar content of 2% which is good for early season sap in our sugar bush. There were the usual problems with starting up including one pump that did not work but overall a successful start. Frost is in the forecast tonight and above freezing  tomorrow so there may be more sap. The weather always likes to tease us a bit at this time of year with fits and starts before we have a sustained sap run.

Some of the sap will have come from our new plantation and marks another milestone for our farm.