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Category: Sugarhouse Stories

Adding “New” Maple Trees

They aren’t really new trees. Average age is perhaps 75, and ranging between 40 years old and 150 years old. Probably half of them have been tapped before, a few generations ago in the days of horses and buckets. But to me they’re new, and they seem to be multiplying as I’m running line to […]

Not Recommended: Drinking Rafter Sap

Things get a little punchy in the sugarhouse after a few hours of boiling. It’s not that infrequent that we wind up overfilling our concentrate tank, allowing it to foam over and start dripping down on us from the rafters. Invariably someone is square under it when that happens. But on a hot, 60-degree day […]

Voice from Past as the Maple Syrup Season Slows

In maple sugaring, the equipment that claims the cruelest name is the “extractor,” a device that sounds like it preys on maple trees. What it really does is separate out the sap flowing down toward a vacuum system and puts it into a storage tank without interrupting the flow of vacuum to the tree. [The […]

Maple Syrup Moonscape

Oldtimers down here refer to a “maple moon,” the full moon closest to the harvest season. They hold that the sap really breaks only once the maple moon comes. I even heard one talk about a gravitational effect on the trees. I have a lot of respect for a lot of what these oldtimers say, […]

Slow Boiling Day in a Warming Thetford

[Bosco Take Break for a Moment] Thetford, Vermont is a strange and wonderful place, filled with interesting people and creatures. Over on the other side of town, up on Houghton Hill, there is a dog named Bosco who makes maple syrup with buckets. We visited him during a slow time last week, taking a few […]

Sugarhouse Visited by Balloon

This morning we had an acquaintance of ours from across town attempt to drop in via hot air balloon. The wind didn’t quite cooperate, but we were able to exchange hellos. He runs a balloon ride business over in the village of Post Mills. Got me to thinking what sort of air current effects he’d […]

How Many Maple Syrup Makers Does it Take…

How many maple syrup makers does it take to measure the maple syrup density in the front pan? Answer: five. One to use the refractometer, another to tell you it’s not temperature-corrected, a third to mention how he does it with a hydrometer instead, and that *everyone* knows that hydrometers are more accurate, a fourth […]

How to Not Burn Down Your Sugar Shack

It was getting to be a bit late in the night on one of those looooong boils last year. Several of us started sniffing the air. Was that something burning? Sometimes a car goes by burning a break pad, skidding around our nasty curve on Tucker Hill Road. It was easy to dismiss the first […]

Critters in the Maple Woods

We wind up working in the woods all year round to husband the maples – and as importantly, the other trees and understory species that make for a diverse habitat. This diversity makes our maples much less prone to insect and disease damage. Anyhow, while fiddling in the sugar bush, we come across all sorts […]

Bringing Home the “New” Maple Syrup Evaporator

Today the guys and I went out to Enfield, NH to haul back an old 3′ by 10′ evaporator to replace our tiny 2′ by 5.5′ unit that served us the past couple few years. While the little unit should have been enough for what we were doing, it turned out to be less efficient […]


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