The 2019 Season

We are having a traditional Canadian winter this year. With 3 feet (76 cm) of snow in the sugar bush snowshoes will be necessary for tapping which will begin next week.  Based on the long term forecast we do not expect the first sap run until the second week of March, also the traditional start date for this area.

 

This year we have had some squirrel damage to our tubing system. For some reason, in one section of the sugar bush, the squirrels clipped the spile adapter from the end of the drop line as well as the pin on which it is connected to seal the tubing system between seasons.The photo on the left shows the damaged drop line missing the adapter and pin. Also shown is a drop line without damage and the drop line pinned for storage.Somewhere the squirrels have stored these pieces of plastic and will be disappointed when they try to salvage them for a lunch this winter. About 100 drop lines were damaged and they have been replaced. There is always something new and interesting in the sugar bush but it also adds to our annual work load

 

 

As usual at this time of year we are in the process of getting ready for another season. This will be our 46th year of making maple syrup and there have been many changes in the sugar bush and in the production process over that period. Many of our older trees have died in part due to damage from the ice storm but are quickly being replaced by younger trees. We are fortunate that our two sugar bushes have a good understory of younger trees ready to grow rapidly when there is a break in the canopy.We have kept up with the evolving production techniques which have improved our efficiency and reduced the amount of fuel required and the green house gas emissions.Some things never change which is joy of working in the sugar bush and the taste of fresh maple syrup.

When you visit our camp this year you will find a much enlarged parking lot. Wolf Grove Road was repaved this year and it was convenient to have the road crew widen our parking lot at the same time.

Sunshine for the Weekend

It was nice to see the sun today. Not much sap as it was too cool but enough for the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men to operate today and tomorrow.Sunshine in the forecast for Sunday morning so drop by and pick up some fresh syrup for pancakes and sausages for lunch. Or stop at Union Hall, 1894 Wolf Grove Road, from 8.00am to 12.00pm on the way to the farm for a pancake meal. We will have a bonfire at the lunch tables if you wish to bring your own food. The trails are a bit snowy but open and many people made the trip around the loop today. No dark syrup yet but the lighter syrup we have made does have a very good flavour.

Biggest Storm of the Winter

We received about 15 cm of snow overnight and a bit more today. Due to the snow our camp is closed today. It will take us most of the day to clear the snow and we plan to open as usual tomorrow. The snow is actually welcome as it adds to the moisture for our trees and will also keep the sugar bush cooler when the warm weather finally arrives.

A Taste of Spring in the Forecast

After a snowy week a warm spell is in the forecast. We are not tapped yet so we will miss this run of sap. The first run of sap is usually very low in sugar content as the trees take a prolonged spell of warm weather to thaw and bring fresh sap up from the roots. There is almost two feet or 50 cm of snow on the ground so snowshoes will be necessary as we start tapping this weekend.We will have three teams of two people and we should be able to put in 3000 t0 4000 taps. It will be slow going in the deep snow.

 

Easter Monday

Yesterday was a beautiful day at the sugar bush. Over the years Easter Sunday, regardless whether early or late, has always been a day when the sap runs very hard. And yesterday was no exception as our tanks are full of sap.It seems to be related to the  phase of the moon as there is always a full moon just before Easter.Or maybe its a coincidence but if so it is very regular occurrence.

There is rain in the forecast for tomorrow but we are open as usual 10 to 5 and the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men will be here unless it rains too hard. We will also be boiling with our large evaporator.

 

 

A Beautiful Easter Morning

A beautiful morning with the promise of lots of sunshine and warmer weather. The red shoulder hawk has returned right on schedule and all the regular winter birds are starting to sing and become much more active. So spring has finally arrived. Our parking lot and the path to the Shanty Men and Kettle Boys have been scraped so there is no problem visiting our operation.We expect the sap will start to run again later this morning as the trees have been recharged after the recent cold weather.

The Colorado Low

The weather forecast was fairly accurate with about 2 inches of snow covered with a sheet of ice. Its warming up quickly so the ice should soften and make walking much less treacherous. Our camp is open and our parking lot has been scraped so the camp is easily accessible. However the trails are slippery and the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men are not operating until tomorrow.

Snowy Morning

We have about 5 cm of fresh wet snow this morning. This is often referred to as sugar snow as the sap usually runs quite well during this type of weather. I think this is due primarily to the lower atmospheric pressure. The sap did run all night and we will be busy making syrup today. The next two days may be rather stormy so if you are coming to the camp this week today would be the best day to come.

Sunny Weekend

Lots of frost last night which we needed to recharge the trees.It is sunny and bright and a nice day for a visit to the sugar bush.
It may be too cold for sap today but the Kettle Boys and Shanty Men have a backlog of sap and will be boiling as usual. We now have our first batch of maple fudge for the season as well as maple tarts and all our maple products.

The Importance of a Vacuum System

When we think about ideal sap weather – it’s warm sunny days followed by frosty nights. True enough, sap runs well when we have traditional ideal conditions – but sometimes it also runs when we think it shouldn’t. We have had no frost since Sunday March 13th as rain, fog and dreary weather have settled in, however, we have had a terrific, continuous run of sap. What is going on? Well, the sap has been running day and night thanks to our vacuum pumping system. During this period, we have not collected a single drop of sap in our buckets. (Note that vacuum pumps have been a best practise in the maple industry for over 3o years and all the research has proven that it causes no adverse effects on our trees.) For vacuum pumps to draw sap, the pipeline system must be airtight – which is a tall order considering that we have about 46 kilometres of pipelines throughout our farms. Maintaining these systems requires hours of walking and fixing leaks on a daily basis. Much of this is done on snowshoes without trails! It is work, but one of the most enjoyable aspects of sugar making for those of us that like to be in the woods.
While we may not be sure that a tree makes a noise when it falls in the forest – we do know that it will likely fall on as many pipelines as it can reach!
Since the sap has been running day and night – we are too – happily I will add. We have plenty of wonderful light and medium grade syrup on hand now.