We are off to a slow start with Mother Nature wanting to cooperate and Old Man Winter just not letting us get into sapping spring!
Debbie came from MN, along with her daughter Courtney, grandson Elliott and future son-in-law, Luke to assist in the tapping and gathering of sap and to learn the cooking, finishing and bottling process. It did not take long for us to catch the fever that we have heard so much about and even a few inches of sap in the bottom of our bags and buckets was enough to do the trick.
We have over 300 taps for the season, almost 200 more than last year. With a couple feet of snow still in the woods, it means tapping, running tubing and gathering all needs to be done on snowshoes. We managed to get the side-by-side stuck more than once and thought we broke the winch, but in the end, got just under 120 gallons of sap, but enough to start sweetening our pans for our first cook.
We are using our evaporator from last year, a cleverly constructed home made contraption that Bob and Mike fabricated and tweaked for maximum performance. We added some extra stove pipe and did a little grinding around the final pan, but still can’t quite get to the 218 degrees F we really would like. Our finishing pan is new to us this year and will take a little getting used to. All told, we bottled around two gallons of Grade A Amber, some of which needs to be redone because of crystallization, but it is delicious and it feels amazing to create the liquid gold!
This coming week is going to be a bit slow because the temps have dropped, but keep your fingers crossed for a little warmer weather soon.