Hello, friends. Dave here. We’re busy collecting and boiling maple sap these days. Have eighteen gallons of syrup finished, and a pretty good “run” today. Looks like the next few days may be decent. Went for a short drive today to see if my Amish neighbors are collecting sap too, and they are. We’ll post some pictures here with some explanations. Continue reading
It was cold again this morning as dawn was breaking — a nippy 20 degrees. Even with the cold, there was a newness in the air. Maybe it was because the birds were singing and calling lustily, as if awakening to love. The Cardinals were particularly noisy, along with a few other species. I could have closed my eyes and imagined myself in the rain forest, with tropical birds serenading the loves of their lives. This year I am intentionally tuning in to the birds. It’s a real treat.The forecast for today was forties and sunshine. This will make the sap run. The sunshine is a key ingredient. Forty degrees and overcast, the sap will run some. Forty degrees and sunshine, and it will be a good day. Can’t wait until late afternoon when it’s time to check the buckets and find out how it ran. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: Welcome to new blogger Dave Ross! Dave lives and works in Kidron, just a stone’s throw from Lehman’s store on the square. We think you’ll enjoy his reflections about life in our little village. This week, he’s been busy gathering sap, boiling and canning syrup for an annual church mission meal featuring homemade maple syrup.
At last! It’s beginning to feel like spring. The signs are everywhere. We waited a long time for this. Old man winter held a tight grip for too long. I’m seeing birds on my walks that I haven’t seen for a while. Bluebirds, Red Wing Blackbirds, Kill Deer, Robins. And they seem to be happy about the nicer weather too. They’re expressing their delight with beautiful trilling melodies and cheerful bird songs. It’s a sound we get so used to that we most often tune it out. This time of year, it’s very welcome sound — a sure sign of spring. Take a walk and listen. Brings cheer to the heart.
Little yellow flowers are beginning to open in the ditch part way up the Zuercher Road hill, and Mrs. A showed me her blooming crocuses. So happy for wonderful neighbors like them. They’re letting me tap their four very large Sugar Maples this year, and those trees are putting out large amounts of clear, sweet sap. Continue reading
A couple of years ago I got fired up about making my own maple syrup. It was late winter then, and I was not prepared for my venture into syrup making at that point. But the following year I was ready. And I was fortunate enough to get me some of that sweet, golden nectar.
Yes indeed, there was some work involved, but the results far outweigh the effort. I was in it not to sell bottles of syrup, but to just make enough for my family and even a few friends to enjoy.
With just a few maple trees, you too can have your own sugary sweetness. It doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment; in fact, about the most expensive thing you will need is time. Continue reading
There are really no words for just how loathsome it is outside right now. Snow, then freezing rain, then more snow and more rain. Gushing torrents of rain and it’s 40 degrees so the snow has turned to a foot of sloppy mush. Tonight will drop back in the 20’s so tomorrow morning the yard will be a rock-hard skating rink that will turn to slush by mid-day. Yep. You gotta love spring in Western Massachusetts
The only redeeming feature I can come with right now is the appearance of buckets on the sides of the maple trees that line the back roads where I live. True. A lot of the metal buckets have been replaced with plastic tubing and large plastic holding tanks but there are enough old timers like us who boil maple sap down to syrup, not for a living but to provide syrup for our families and maybe a bit extra to sell at roadside stands. Continue reading
The Origin Story
I’m a self-employed stained glass artist, hippie, geek, freak, and hands-on type person. I just bought a new-to-me house after years of apartment dwelling, and because it was a foreclosure, I had received a “you must fix immediately” list from my friendly neighborhood insurance company the minute I closed on my new abode. The list was long and non-negotiable. But that list is inadvertently responsible for my lark into maple syrup making.
Item number 3 on their “Fix immediately” list was “tree trimming”, and in the midst of pruning a rather stately specimen, my partner and I noted that there was liquid coming from the pruned branches, similar to the amount one sees from a drippy faucet. Thank goodness for Google and smartphones, because we established within a few minutes that the tree in question was a sugar maple, and that another variety of maple was also on the property. I read that any maple can produce sap for maple syrup, but that the sugar content varies by species.
Since I tend to find domesticity that results in stuff I can eat a rather cool concept given my self-employed artist status and hippie tree-hugging ways, I thought it would be nifty to try making maple syrup, especially if I could find the supplies to do it around the house. I mean, I can’t remember phone numbers for squat, but prices on food? Sheesh… I know how much maple syrup costs, and with the aforementioned (and expensive) list of “must fix immediately” decided that beyond the novelty of it, maple syrup making would be pretty cost-effective in terms of the time invested. Continue reading