knits & plants

aah, the simple life. almost.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The Report from the Bush

If there's anything that can make up for the misery of six weeks of mud season every year, it's maple sugaring. Drive around my town for ten minutes and you're certain to see at least a couple of shanties in various states of disrepair with large tanks and hoses piled around outside. But for a few weeks every spring, they're transformed into hotbeds of activity. The sugar shack becomes the community center. All day long, cars and trucks full of people fight their way through feet of sucking mud to come and go, to observe, to argue technique, to keep company, and of course, to sample maple syrup straight from the arch.

This year will be the second where we're making our own maple syrup. Our friends Creed & Carmelita have the sugar bush on their 30-acre property. Glenn has the sugaring background, and is responsible for building the shack and outfitting it with an arch and all the other stuff you need to boil sap. So it's a joint venture. This year, we're tapping 450 trees with a combination of metal sap buckets and lines that go directly from the tree into the collecting tank in the shack. It's a bit ambitious, as our arch isn't really big enough to keep up with boiling the sap, if we have a good year.

The Sugar Adventure 2006 began this weekend with the completion of tapping the trees. We collected about 150 gallons of sap over the weekend and began boiling Saturday evening. From now until the nights stop dropping below freezing, we'll be collecting sap and boiling it down every night. It's a love-hate thing. It's really exciting and fun, but you can't stop once you've begun, and you have to keep at it until mother nature calls it quits. We'll be home only to sleep for the next couple weeks. The cats will be cranky, and to borrow a term from the Yarn Harlot, the dust buffalo will be roaming the floors.

We're working out some sort of rotation to keep ahead of the game. Yesterday, the girls got to run the arch while the boys went out and collected the day's sap. Firing the arch is addictive. One of the perks of spending so much time in the sugar shack is the fact that it's so very much like a sauna. The steam is incredible. The pores say yay.

Last night, around 8pm, we drew off the first batch of syrup. You boil and boil and boil and boil and then you boil and boil and boil and boil some more. Then you take a sample and measure it for density with the little bobbing-thing. Once it's between two marks on the hydrometer, you've got syrup. We pulled maybe 2 gallons last night. Last year, we make 32 gallons, and we're hoping for double that this year.

Happy birthday to me.


At 5:32 PM, Anonymous JH said...

Indeed, happy birthday to you! I cannot believe you're maple sugaring; I'm wildly impressed. Are you naming your syrup?

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Lizziebell said...

Woww...that's all,


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