Our blog posts ended rather abruptly last year. Everything turned COVID crazy, and life in general turned pretty crazy. We ended the year with under 80 gallons of syrup. Though we have made maple syrup for over 20 years, we are still pretty new to the tubing/vacuum system way of doing things. Last year we made some rookie mistakes in the sugar bush that resulted in the taps healing prematurely. But if ever there was a year to finish up early, it was last year, and in the end it all worked out just fine.
Back in 2010--The "Good Ol' Days"
In the off season we did lots of research to see just what we should have done differently last year. We replaced our old spiles with newer "check valve" spiles that open when the sap is running and close when it isn't. This keeps air from getting in and causing early healing of the taps. We also tapped a whole new section of the sugar bush, bringing our total taps up to around 500.
A jumbo sized mail box--one of our off-season improvements.
You would be surprised how many boxes of syrup we can
fit in here!
Off Season in the Sugar Bush
Snowshoes are a sugar bush essential!
We were pretty excited when the sap finally started to run this spring. It came pouring into the head tank so fast that before we knew it, we were running behind!
Mud Season--If it came at any other time of the year it would be
much more difficult to deal with. But it means that winter is nearly
over and we can make maple syrup! Makes it much easier to
have a good attitude about all of the....mud!
This 800 gallon tank was filling so fast!!
Those coils you can see in the back part of the evaporator make up our
new preheater. The sap flows through those coils and is heated by
the steam before it enters the back pan. Cold sap slows your
boil, so having it pre-heated helps shorten the boiling time. Another
improvement we made during the off-season!
We had some air leaks in the line when we fired up the vacuum system
the first time. And of course, one of the problems had
to be at the very top of the sugar bush. That always seems
to be the way of it!
That first run of the season we ended up running the evaporator around the clock for 48 hours and made about 17 gallons of syrup. Thankfully God sent along a bit of a cold snap and gave us a breather after that.
Taste testing is a very important part of making maple syrup!
Pouring the first batch of the season into the bottler.
Nothing like maple syrup to add just the right sweetness to that
afternoon cup of coffee.
We've had one other run since--a much shorter one, but we are up to about 23 gallons of maple syrup so far. We're kind of excited to see what this week brings. There is a glorious stretch of weather coming!
March morning in the sugar bush.