By Richard DeVries
This season was supposed to be record breaking. I was confident we would get more sap than ever before; it was going to be a great season. Throughout the year we made changes and improvements to the Sugar House. In addition to our three by ten foot evaporator, we added a small outdoor barrel woodstove to give backyard syrupers an idea of how to cook their own syrup. With a generous donation from the Arboretum’s Auxiliary, we were able to purchase a vacuum system. We can now show various ways of collecting sap- we have old buckets, plastic bags, gravity tubing and a modern vacuum tubing system. The vacuum system includes a ten foot sap ladder, all new tubing and check valves. It was suppose to increase our sap yield significantly, like I said, it was going to be a great season.
Little did I know that we would have high temperatures close to eighty and not a freezing night in sight. If you read my other posts, you know the frost is kind of important. Despite the high temperatures, the sap has been flowing a little bit. Some of the bags are half full, some are empty. The gravity tubing on the south hill has been dripping instead of running and the releaser on the vacuum system dumps a couple gallons every so often. We collected 300 gallons of sap so far, and that should be just about enough to break the all time record low of three gallons of syrup in one season. I decided to store the sap for the pancake brunch weekend. This is when most of our visitors come to see what we have been up to. First they enjoy their delicious pancakes, then they can make their own spile, participate in tapping demonstrations, learn about maple syrup history and check out the vacuum system, including the cool sap ladder. Best of all, thanks to a 300 gallon tank in a big cooler that will keep our sap at a refreshing 30 degrees Fahrenheit, visitors can see how we cook real Maple syrup.
It looks like it will be a great season after all- maybe not in syrup quantity, but we still have a lot of new and old things we want to share with you this weekend. Hopefully, this is the only year you can do it in shorts.