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Greetings from sugaring 2009! Whoah.. Busy year. I've been gone a lot for work. At first I wasn't too happy about it. But now that I am faced with losing my job AGAIN!...my perspective has changed toward the schedule. Another 350 people and it will be my turn at the receiving end of the AX! Ahhhhh…but that is a problem I shouldn't be worrying about, because today….at this moment: The lightning is boiling hard… Drawing “Vermont Fancy” from the valve on the syrup pan. The golden foam, dangerously high…I am, as I should be, a little on edge. But the sweet smell, a cold glass of maple sap, the sparks and smoke being forced up the stack and the steam….I am a Dad, a Husband, a Son, and today a sugarer. These things always come first in my heart….So with 11 days of liberty from what are usually the “non optional” concerns of life……Today, WE ARE SUGARING!


Summer '08 Cutting and splitting a nice pile of sugarwood for the evaporator.
Fall 08'

Building a room for the Reverse Osmosis machine. Mark is wiring the sugarhouse.

Jan 09'

Breezed through Blackman's doing repairs, quick job. It's in good shape. There has been a mink running up and down the brook.

Feb. 09' Insulating R.O. room and doing finish work
Feb 18 Working in woods on Potters and ours. Getting tubing up in the air again. Fixing breaks. Cold, but really nice day. I thought I might see Clark today. He found me working in his woods at about 1330. The “maple borers” hit hard about 5-7 years ago. The damage is showing up this year. The closer I look, the more disappointed I am to see this.
March 4

Started tapping today. It is bitter out. Tapping ours and Potter's. Got it done. Mrs. B's will be next, but I'll be a few days getting back out the woods again. Supposed to warm up tomorrow.

March 5

It hit me late last night that I should get up early and get Blackmans tapped before I head off to work. I was in the woods by 0630. I flew through it. Got it done. (Realized later I'd missed a few.) I set the tank and left the mainline to run on the ground for a day. Set Potter's tank and did the same. Hoped to get a picture of that mink at Mrs B's. No luck. Hey..Somehow I broke the LCD in my digital camera. Darn.

March 7 Sap has been running. Tammie gathered and sweetened up the pans.
March 9 Finished up, and drove my S-10 home from DCA. Got home at 0630 on the 10 th . Mark had been finishing up a few little things with the wiring. He's done. It looks and works great! I'm excited. Great Job Mark!
March 10-12 …..No sap. Installing R/O and plumbing it. Setting up sugarhouse.
March 13 Sap's running. Washed and rinsed R/O. The manual for the R/O is not too good. Put out buckets along the road. Tapped Jim's and Powsners.
March 14

Ran R/O this morning- Son of a gun..IT WORKS! 2.5% raw sap, jacked to 7.5 to 8.0%. (The R.O. is getting rid of about 60 gallons of water per hour for me. Add that to the 30 gph evaporation rate of the evaporator and were making around 3 gph of syrup.) Went to church and boiled “concentrated” sap afterward. Made 7.5 gallons of very light “Dark Amber”. Helped Molly put out some buckets. I'll buy her sap for .25 per gallon. She's always been a good helper and seems to like sugaring pretty well. 300+ gallons of sap today.

March 15 Another good run. Made 12 gallons of Medium. Greg and Kids came over. Mark, Kim and Molly came over also. Molly M. helped gather. Mom and Dad and Jim Ross came up. Tammie backed into my mom's truck. Jim Yodelled for us in the sugarhouse. Jim is our kind of man. Canned 6 gallons of Fancy. Collected 540 gallons of sap
March 16

Saps running like crazy. Gathering and R/O, will boil tomorrow. Went to RZ's to look at his sugarbush & put up a few taps. Big old grandaddy maples. (3%‘ers!) Gathered 600 gallons of sap. Canned 5 gallons of Medium.

March 17

Boiling today. Sap is running and I need to gather but can't get away. Maggie is home with the flu. She told me I am a “good man” this morning. Can you believe that? Melted my heart.

March 18 Finishing up some concentrate from yesterday and working through todays sap. It's been a little warm. Sap's not running good. Steve and Natalie stopped by. Rusty J. Stopped up. (I had some questions on the R/O.) He's got a top notch operation right next door.
March 19 Collected 150 gallons. Scott and Cameron came for a visit. Made 5 gallons of Medium. Canned 10 gallons of Medium. Nice night of boiling. The evaporator was really rippin'
March 21

Gathered this morning. Got everything cleaned up and boiled in the evening.

March 22 Snowing today. Huge fluffy flakes. But the sap is running.
March 23 Very cold today. Everything is frozen up. Including the %*&@#! R/O!!! (The symbols stand for the word…“Wonderful” .) I had the heater too high in the room. Warm up high, cold down low. Got the R/O thawed out. R/O OK! Boiled yesterdays sap. Taylor, Morgan and Brooke visited.
March 24 Gave the sugarhouse a good cleanup. Sap is running. We'll have a good load for tomorrow.
March 25 Running the R/O. We'll gather RZ's for the first time today. Big boil for us tonight. We made around 15 gallons. Long day even with the R/O, I'm tired. Very warm out. Sap probably won't run tomorrow.
March 26

Gathering what little sap is left from yesterday.

March 27 Good run today. R/O is working good. Note: Need to get wash water up to 135 degrees before pouring it in the wash tank. That will give you 105 to 110 degrees during the wash cycle. That keeps it working really good. 12 gallons or so of Medium.
March 28 Oh boy, cold last night, sap's running good today! Another long day. 10 gallons of Medium.
April 4 Collected 160 gallons of “Bud Run” sap. We'll drop to dark amber tonight. Then to B in the next run. Made 4 gallons of high quality DK Amber. Boiled it Raw. Not enough sap to fire up the R/O. Had waffles and sausage in the Sugarhouse with Tammie and the Kids. My kind of night. The Evaporator was roaring! (Well,….for a 2X6.) Haven't been keeping track too well , but we're up to 98.5 gallons produced so far.
April 14

Well, we just got back from Ohio for Easter. Nice time. Got up this morning & gathered 100+ gallons of “Bud Run” sap. Had a bad start to the day. Did some damage to my front pan. Which I'd rather not discuss. In 100 years my great grandkids will wonder what I did. I'll just say, it involved building a fire under a nice clean syrup pan that didn't have ANY syrup in it. Whoops…I told you. We did have waffles in the sugarhouse this morning, which softened the blow a bit. We got 1.5 gallons or so of of B. Then maybe a gallon of so of B/C. I'll start putting the R/O to bed today. And wash my muddy truck.

April 20-23

Finished the sap that was in the syrup pan. 1 gallon of C. Jim D. says he'll take that and some B for wine making. Washing tanks and buckets and pulling down taps.

May 3-4 Cleaned up the pans and putting everything away. The sugarhouse is ready for next year. Really enjoying my time at home. We celebrated Maggie's 10 th birthday tonight. Good Kid's, both of them.

And there you have it. Sugaring 2009. This year felt a little “off” to me. We had about 550 taps and made maybe 5 gallons less syrup than last year. Also, the R/O eliminates the “20 hour” boil. So I never got the feeling that I was getting too much of a good thing. That left me longing for more. The R/O can make things a bit hectic. But really saves on the firewood and time spent boiling. I think we have figured out how to integrate it into our work day in the sugarhouse. The machine is the perfect size for our operation. I had thoughts of selling it before I ever even plugged it in. Just didn't feel like my style. But I must say…I like it now. I'm right where I always wanted to be. We've got a nice operation here. And a good life. I am enjoying the blessing of it all, and I hope you'll forgive me for saying….. I'm a little proud of it too.