Well, I suppose we are all suffering a little 'Cabin Fever' by now so I figured I'd continue on with a second post about making Maple Syrup in Vermont. It's the genuine article with absolutely nothing added. Folks say it's good for you too! Good for the heart. Genuine Maple Syrup makes you smile and gives you a happy heart. After all, a happy heart is a healthy heart! Now, the rest of the story!
After the sap buckets have been collected and poured into a larger tank near the sugar woods, it is then pumped into a mobile tank on a truck and off loaded into another tank at the sugar house to be boiled down in an evaporator to make syrup. Now some woods are on a hillside that ideally faces East so the morning sun warms things up faster and keeps the sap running better. Now the better choice is to run a network of tubing from the taps into a main line that flows into the tank. This saves a lot of hard leg work and time for the sugar makers. Sounds like a good fool proof plan doesn't it? Yes and no because squirrels seem to appreciate the sap as well and often chew through the lines causing the loss of raw product. Deer and other critters also seem to range through and drop lines as well. The maple producers have to be ever mindful and check their lines for damage. From tree to syrup time is critical as well. The faster it is run through the evaporator, the higher the quality the syrup will be. Now the evaporators are fired by wood, gas or oil. When I first moved to Vermont in 1980 the cost of a gallon of syrup was $40.00. I thought that was awful expensive for boiled sap. However in 1981, I took a job with a farmer to help make syrup. I had no idea how much work was involved. The producer I helped had a wood fired evaporator. After tapping the trees and running lines and setting bulk tanks out, the next step was to gather enough wood to make sure we could boil all the sap we got. Now the math. The state average then was each individual tap produced one quart of syrup a season. Once the sap starts running the evaporator is fired up and the boiling begins. You don't shut down till you are out of sap. That made for some long days! My job was to fire the evaporator with another young man and keep her burning. We burned between a cord and a cord and a half an hour! That means we were tossing between two and five thousand pounds of wood every hour from morning till late evening. It was so hot when you fed wood to the fire, you had to wear two sets of clothes for protection from the heat! Even then, you threw the wood in and stepped outside to cool you clothes! 1981 was a real good run. The sap was sweet but it took 26 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup! We made over a 1000 gallons of syrup that year as a team. That's 26,000 gallons of sap that was gathered, hauled, and boiled! God had a good plan making the season only a couple of weeks long. Any longer and would have killed us. It was a great experience that will forever be etched in this flatlanders mind. But you know what? I have never complained about the price of Maple Syrup since February of 1981. So if you get to Vermont during sugaring, stop in a sugar house and try some sugar on snow. It's a real treat! There is a multitude of Maple product being produced. Pure sugar and different candies. Something for everyone. Stay warm! Enjoy life and most of all....keep shooting!