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Sugarbush

Posted 3/22/2015 7:01pm by The Webb Family.

This morning was cold... and we had to let some things thaw slightly before getting started in the sugar house. We don't always have the time and the means to take our customers out to see our 12 acres of sugarbush. So we took the opportunity. 

A family travelled from North Carolina specifically to see the process behind maple syrup. Their relatives from Saratoga, NY joined them on a very cold and windy Sunday morning to tour our sugarbush. 

 

We walked the loop while Tyler explained our setup with tubing and vacuum lines. We also looked at the different age groups of maples we have and the challenges to sustaining a sugarbush into the future. We discussed invasive plants, the deer population, and other issues that may impact the regeneration of sugar maples.  

After a walk in the woods, they helped us get started for an afternoon boil in the sugarhouse. We put them to work firing the evaporator, setting up the press to filter fresh syrup, and of course doing some tasting (or should I say quality control) of the product. 

Thank you to Wolfgang, Christine, and the Barker's for a fun visit!

Posted 3/2/2015 5:31pm by The Webb Family.

It has been a long and cold winter to say the least. The days are getting longer and the sunshine feels a little warmer. Sugaring season is just around the corner. We are tapped out in our sugarbush, just waiting for Mother Nature to cooperate!

Every year, usually in late February, we start looking for the change in the weather.  We are looking for warm, sunny days with cold, below freezing nights.  These warm days, about 40 degrees, unthaw the trees enough to allow sap to flow up into the crowns of the trees.  This sap flow is the start of the growing season for a tree, and the sap contains the minerals and nutrients needed to give the tree energy to make leaves.

We try to be ready for these days well in advance so we don’t miss any of these “runs.” A run is when the days are warm, and the sap is flowing in the trees.  A run is any gatherable amount of sap, usually a minimum of 250 gallons, that we can then boil down to make syrup. 

Our preparations for the season can take some time, depending on how Mother Nature has treated us over the winter. We check to make sure that our tubing is stretched tight from tree to tree.  We take the time to get all of the fallen limbs off the tubing and repair any damage that may have been done by squirrels during the year. Those critters love to get some remaining sweetness out of the tubing.

The next step is to start tapping. This step usually takes about three to five days. This depends on how deep the snow is and how much time we can put towards it. If conditions are just right, we can drill about 40-50 taps an hour. We use an 18V drill to tap at a depth of only about 1.5 to 2 inches into the tree. Then we insert the spout and “tap” it with a hammer until it is seated snugly into the tree. If you pound the spout too far into the tree, there is a chance to split the hole. That split would cause the sap to leak out around the spout, losing this precious liquid. We like to avoid that at all costs!

We always debate on when the best time is to start tapping. The timing truly is a guessing game and changes every year. This year, Tyler started tapping our trees on February 22nd and finished up on March 2nd. All 1,300 taps on around 12 acres are ready for mother nature to get the sap flowing.

  

Our first run is always exciting. The warm days will feel great after a cold winter, especially this year. We also get to spend a lot of time in the woods chasing leaks in the tubing. It’s fun running around on snowshoes to watch sap flow through the tubing. It's also a great exercise plan for us and our one year old labrador retriever.

Then, a few hours later, we will be making steam and waiting for our first sweet taste of maple syrup for the season. Stay tuned for updates as the weather turns...

A big Thanks to Paul Howe Photography for some great photos. We even made the front page of the Eagle Times!