Sugaring 2011

Sugaring season is always a rush. We wait, ready to react and unable to plan for much, reading between the lines of each updated weather report. What does “snow showers on the western flanks of Mt. Mansfield with sun through the St. Lawrence Valley” means for us in the foothills of northern Champlain Valley bumping into the St. Lawrence Valley?

weather, flat tires, a down cow…

Will radiant cooling cause the pipe bringing sap from the hill-top dumping station down to the sugarhouse to freeze up early creating a pipe full of ice? This could be a real issue if we need to move sap the next day. Do we need to pump sap up from Fischer’s tanks now or will the sap run slow just enough to allow emptying of the leaky dumping tank holding bucket sap we worked so hard to collect? Gosh we could use at least one bigger sap storage tank!

Good planning is only that. It doesn’t mean anything will go smoothly or as predicted, but you hope that it will help.

Then a thousand gallon plastic tub full of almost 9000 pounds of sap slips off the wagon. Luckily it splashed down gently in a large snowbank so the sap isn’t lost and the tub unharmed. Hours are lost though.

Or the same 1000 gallon tub is filled a little too close to it’s 1100 gallon capacity and while driving over a rock, tipping more weight onto a single rear tire of the wagon, the tire suddenly bursts. Luckily, we already had done this routine; go get the secondary smaller tank, put it on a wagaon, get the pump, a new nozzle, a few wrenches, a length of pipe, and start pumping sap to the small tank. Repeat. Less time lost this go-round, but still…

Or we end up with a down cow, in the barn. A down cow is rare enough, but a down cow in the barn is the worst. It’s critical to get them outside while they can still move themselves, but of course the wild fluctuations of spring weather aren’t optimal to help an animal back to health. Dragging a dead cow by come-along between the other animals is certainly a depressing moment. And there’s sap to be collected…sap to be boiled…

And still there are no plans; we listen to the weather, hinged on every word right before bed, immediately after rising.