Updated: May 16, 2019
3/09/19--We are ready! We tapped the trees today. The holding tank is cleaned and ready. The evaporator has a fresh coat of paint and has been polished to a shine. The temperature was just warm enough to thaw the trees a tiny bit. When we turned on the vacuum pump, about 5 gallons of sap came through the line. Of course, that's not really a run, but it does get hope stirring! They are forecasting 40's for next week. Things may get busy fast.
3/10/19--A fresh coating of snow--4 inches maybe? Sap likes to run after spring snowstorms if the temps are right. We're hoping for our first run tomorrow.
3/11/19--When the sun finally came out the temps climbed to 40 or so, but it took a while for the ice to melt in the mainline, and then the wind kicked up, so though we did turn the vacuum pump on for a bit, there wasn't more than a trickle of sap coming into the tank. Tomorrow is supposed to be too cold, but maybe Wednesday or Thursday we'll get our first real sap run. The beginning of sapping season is always "hurry up and wait!"
3/13/19--The sap is running! It was sunny and the temp climbed into the low 40's. By the end of the day there were 100 gallons or so of sap in the big tank. Our trees are all on a north facing slope and take a little longer to thaw because of it, but things are stirring in the sugar bush! Andrew and Ashli trapsed around through the woods looking for ice in the lines and found several areas where the snow had drifted over the line. They managed to get the ice loose to help things move along. If we have a good day tomorrow we may be able to fire up the evaporator and make the first maple syrup of the season. How exciting!
3/14/19--Sap ran again today. Temps climbed into the mid to upper 40's. Tomorrow we will fire up the evaporator for the first time.
3/15/19--Didn't get below freezing overnight, but we were still able to draw a decent amount of sap in with the vacuum system. Started up the evaporator for the first time at about 10:30 am and boiled until we were running low on sap at 8 pm or so. The evaporator worked like a charm and all went well. We figure that we boiled down somewhere near 250 gallons of sap. We were hoping to draw off some syrup, but we didn't quite get far enough. That happens at the beginning of the season when you are using an evaporator. It isn't supposed to get very cold tonight, so we aren't sure if we'll get enough sap tomorrow to start the evaporator up again or not. Then it's supposed to be cold until Wednesday. We are anxious to bottle our first batch of syrup, but it looks like it might be a bit yet before we get to that point, unless we are pleasantly surprised by the sap run tomorrow.
3/16/19--A bit of sap ran today, but not enough to fire the evaporator back up. Cold settling in again starting tomorrow. Looks like Wednesday before the sap runs again. Had a coyote tear down a stretch of the line and chew some holes in it last night. Hope he doesn't get too fond of the taste of sap! That could become a problem in a hurry.
3/17/19--Emptied the partially processed sap from the evaporator into buckets while this cold snap lasts. Nights in the teens mean the sap could freeze and damage the pipes and pan if we left it in the evaporator. Better safe than sorry. If we can get through this blip of cold, it looks like we'll be back into sapping weather. Maine Maple Sunday is this weekend, and we haven't finished off one batch of syrup yet! It's a late year.
3/21/19--The sap started running again yesterday. We had to build our sap supply back up before we could fire up the evaporator, which we did this morning. After boiling for a while, we were finally able to start drawing off syrup. Hooray! By the end of the day we had three gallons or so of the finished product. I say finished, but we still have to give it a final filtering and bottle it tomorrow. We tried out our vacuum filter for the first time today. It worked well. We'll have to do some experimenting to get the filtering process perfected, but we are pleased so far. Spent the day at the sugar house. Wrapped things up at around 8:30. There's unsettled weather coming tomorrow with snow and rain and everything in between. Who knows what the trees will do!
3/24/19--We bottled our first syrup on the 22nd. About three gallons worth. It snowed that day, too. We ended up with 3 or 4 inches of wet snow. We were able to fire up the evaporator again yesterday and bottle about three more gallons. We were hoping for a really good run from Friday to today, but while we did get some sap, it just hasn't really kicked in yet. Today was Maine Maple Sunday. Next year we are hoping to officially be a part of it. This year we had some friends and family stop in. There was ice cream with maple syrup, and everyone got to see how the process works. It was a good day! Supposed to be cold again until Wednesday, and then things are looking up.
3/25/19--Too cold for the sap to run today, but we were able to boil down the sap we got yesterday and bottle 3 more gallons of maple syrup. So far the syrup has all been of medium color. It looks lovely in the glass jars! We are so happy with our vacuum filter. It makes the filtering process a breeze.
3/27/19--It warmed up enough today to thaw the trees a bit. Everyone in the syrup business is saying they are way behind this year, especially compared to last year's record breaking season. We are hoping for some good runs in the next few days, and the potential is there, but the weather can be a tricky thing, and you have no control over it! We did get the Etsy shop up and running. That is a good thing! https://www.etsy.com/shop/schanzfamilymaple
3/30/19--The weathermen keep dangling a carrot out ahead of us, but by the time the "perfect" days actually come, they aren't perfect anymore! The last two days haven't been good for sap runs. We did finish off 5 more gallons of syrup yesterday--our first amber of the season. This brings our total to 14 gallons for the year so far. Next week is supposed to be perfect sapping weather. Hopefully the weather forecast holds!
3/31/19--We were pleasantly surprised by a bit of a run Sunday. Saturday night wasn't below freezing, but some drizzle and fog on Sunday seemed to wake the trees up a bit and we got enough sap to boil again tomorrow.
4/1/19--Today was cold and windy. The trees weren't having any part of it. But we were able to bottle three more gallons of dark syrup. It's beautiful stuff! We're hoping tomorrow is the start of something good. (That seems to be a recurring theme this year!)
4/3/19--We had our best two days yet. Yesterday the sap really ran well, and today nearly as well. We had some weather this morning and were afraid it might mess things up, but the trees just want to run. Boiled all day and produced about 7 more gallons of syrup. Tomorrow looks cold, but we do have some more boiling to do, and bottling! The coyote was back a couple of nights ago and took out the same section of line as before. We're afraid he's acquiring a taste for maple sap.
4/12/19--We were able to process 10 more gallons of syrup after I last posted from the sap run, but cold weather settled in again and the trees went back into hibernation mode. Yesterday they woke up again with temps in the mid 40's. We have quite a bit of sap in the tank to process right now. Warm weather--in the 60's--is coming tomorrow, then rain. Not sure what this means for us. In all of our 20+ years, we haven't seen a year quite like this one.
4/17/19--We've processed 30 more gallons of syrup since the last update. We've had a good run, with the sap running under less than ideal circumstances. The weather is warmer so we have to process the sap just as quickly as possible. We ran the evaporator for 20 hours straight Saturday into Sunday morning. Started up again on Sunday and have boiled some every day since. The last 15 gallon drum we filled was Grade A Very Dark grade. Still crystal clear and delicious! We got one batch of Grade A Amber this year, and the rest was Grade A Dark. I haven't added it up, but I think yesterday put us up to around 70 gallons of syrup.
4/18/19--We are in the middle of a great run! Because it's late in the season, we are having to boil fast and clean the tanks often. Sap gets cloudy fast sitting in the tanks this time of year. All that snow in the woods is keeping it going for us. The sap was running as well yesterday as we have seen it all year. Had a bit of trouble with the vacuum pump last night. We stopped on our way home from church to find that though the vacuum was high--26 or so--the sap wasn't getting pushed up and out of the pump into the tank. The guys took the pump apart and were able to replace the problem part. Don't want your pump down in the middle of a good run!
4/19/19--Things are winding down, but we are still making syrup. Bottled a supply of Very Dark syrup yesterday and put 5 gallons of it into bulk storage. Andrew pulled the taps on the buckets. We hadn't been getting anything to speak of out of them, and he says the holes had healed over. It could be that they would have run better these last couple of weeks if we had put them out later than we did. It was such a late season that it was hard to know just what to do. Every year is different and it keeps you guessing. The sap is still running well on the north slope. The challenge is processing it just as fast as we can because it is too warm to store it. We've had some late nights. Andrew crawled into bed after 3 a.m. this morning. But that means we are making syrup, so it is a good thing!
4/23/19--The season wound down in a hurry. The sap was still running, but the syrup was changing, so we pulled the taps and called it a year. 100 gallons of syrup. We were pleased!