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Monday, March 22, 2010

March 2010

Hello! Well what a "winter" we have had! I am loving it, but I admit I am feeling a bit anxious, like I am behind. I am not used to seeing the ground so early! In any case, I still have to go by the calendar for planting so I haven't seeded anything in the ground yet. My spot in the greenhouse is filling up though with early greens, onions and today I seeded peppers. I am trying some new varieties this year, so I hope you like them!


Sugaring

Every year I help some friends up the road with their sugaring operation. It is a blast--a perfect way to spend a winter afternoon. This year we tapped 410 trees and collect between 200-450 gallons of sap every other day. The weather (every farmer's complaint) has been a bit warmer than usual this year and is making for a tricky sugaring season. The trees need nights in the 20's and days in the upper 30's, or low 40's to "run". If the temp stays too warm or too cold, the tree doesn't move it's sap. And once the trees break bud in the spring, they use their energy for making leaves, so the sap is no longer worth collecting as it has an earthy taste.

Sugaring is fun, but LOADS of work. First you have to cut and split a ton of firewood (that's about 20 cordswhich have to dry in time). Then you have to collect the sap (takes us about 3 hours to collect all 410 taps), then you have to boil it (that takes about 2 hours for every 100 gallons of sap). Plus making great tasting syrup is an art--Mitch and Penny are pros! (And that's about 1 gallon of syrup for every 100 gallons of sap!)

Simon plays chase with Bear the whole time...wish we could teach them to collect : )

Last year we collected sap, trudging through 3 feet of snow and sinking up to our thighs with every other step. This year the challenge is more for the horses, pulling the wagon through muddy frozen ground. They punch through unexpectedly and there is a danger that they could fall. But I am always amazed at how sure footed they are. Strong and beautiful and quiet.

The best part of collecting is listening to the chorus of sap hitting the bottoms of the pails. Each drop hits at a different time and it sounds like tree bells singing their own song. The chorus of bells has just about ended (early) this season, but the sweet taste of syrup will grace our tongues for months. Look for Penny and Mitch's sap in our Community Barn this summer!

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