Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Saps a Running

It is April 1st here and everywhere. We’ve had one of the coldest, snowiest winters since we have lived on this farm. Yesterday it snowed, yet again. Everyone around here, including the chickens, sheep, dogs, and cats, are waiting for spring to come and the snow to melt. Waiting and wondering if it will ever arrive. We know it will someday. The spring birds are returning and I am sure they are perplexed by the frequent appearance of more and more snow.

One of the most noticeable rites of spring in these parts is the appearance of galvanized buckets hanging on little hooks from the sides of maple trees. Each spring, farmers drill fresh holes in their maples, hang their buckets, and wait for the sap to flow. Talk around here is about “how the sap is running.” Depending on which farmer you talk to, you will get all kinds of conflicting stories. These buckets are incredibly beautiful weathered by years of wear and tear.


We have been enjoying the sites, sounds, smells, and flavors of our neighbors collecting and boiling this sugaring season. Sunday we walked our road to check on the progress of the harvest.


If you were here, this is what you would see:

Just beginning to drip....


Almost....



The saps drips and pings as it hits the bottom of the bucket.


Lot of the maple sap is now being collected via a pipeline system that gravity feeds into large 250 gallon collection tanks. It’s not nearly as picturesque as the bucket system but as with everything, efficiency counts. In the old days, large families would spend their days collecting and boiling but as the population left the farms and families aren’t as large anymore, pipeline collection systems are easier. Thank goodness our neighbors still hang some buckets.

The sap flows best during the day when the night before was below freezing and the day is well above freezing. The past few years, the sap season was late February and early March but this year it’s much later. From what we hear, it seems like it is going to be an extra long season with lots of syrup being produced. Here's some sap boiling at our neighbor's sugarhouse.


Oh how I love living in New England.

11 comments:

evergreenknits said...

Oh my, how this makes me miss Vermont!!

I moved down to Arizona this year. And while spring is glorious in the southwest, this reminder of the sap run and sugaring is really making me nostalgic...

asakiyume said...

I love-love-love maple tapping. It's such an amazing blessing; I want to hug the trees. Your photos are gorgeous, especially the ones of the sap coming out of the tap.

Lindsay said...

Oh yum! I especially love maple sugar caramels. Double yum!

chickenbetty said...

This past weekend we dismantled our mini-sugaring operation. We've been boiling since March 1st!
http://clandelaney.wordpress.com/2008/02/25/stop-maple-time/
We tripled our output this year over last year. We just can't handle anymore, almost 15 gallons, it will be one sweet Holiday in December :)
Love the grannies with the chocolate border
Toots

Jessica Marie said...

So cool. I watched a demonstration (on TV sadly) at the PA farm show in January in which they explained the whole process.
And your pictures are beautiful!

Deborah Robson said...

Wow, that makes me homesick for New England. We used to tap our trees and cart the sap up to the place in N. Leverett to be boiled down. I like the process of sugaring even better than I like syrup! Oh, my heart aches. Not in a bad way, except that there's no sugaring to be done here.

Alison said...

Oh, thank you for this post - it's like 'Little house in the big woods' -from which we once did make maple syrup toffee, pouring it into the snow, in England, to set.

Beth said...

I used to live near your neck of the woods, in Williamstown, MA. Now I'm in NC. I don't really miss mud season...I'll take a southern spring any day over the gray and grit, but I do miss the sugaring. We used to help our friends that collected sap and boiled it over a fire in their dirt driveway in Pownal, VT. Yes, a little like stepping back in time...

Your photos of the sap dripping are wonderful.

Anonymous said...

As a preschool teacher, we would take the class to a farm that makes "syrup". What a great learning experience!! I no longer teach and my kids are older as well. I miss those trips!

T

Turtle said...

Your lucky! My mom is still not having the sap run yet, everything is set up and ready but still too chilly!

knittingiris said...

This makes my mouth water. We looooove some real maple syrup around here, so I'd love to see this in person someday. Since I can't right now, of course, thank you so much for sharing it here.