The 2013 Season was a long drawn out season. Though there were reports of bumper crops from most maple producers this season, ours was merely solid. Some of this is likely due to our slightly cooler sugarbush location. Primarily our woods face west and north. There were a number of marginal days this season where the sun was out, but the temperature just barely got above freezing… some locations and aspects got good runs on these days, while we got next to nothing!
All in all though it was a good season. It was our second year with the Reverse Osmosis (RO) so our methods were quite dialed in. We still ran our sugar content with the machine up to only 7% Starting boiling in the afternoon and finishing between 9pm and midnight was nice compared to boiling from even 8am until 2 am the following day as we had to do in the past. The general feeling in the sugarhouse was certainly a bit more commercial as the RO would be running for much of the time we were boiling. That’s how it goes I suppose to reduce our wood consumption by a factor of three!
Often Julie and I would gather the buckets in the morning (with frequent help from Vidar and sometimes others) and Steve would start boiling around 3 pm. The horses had a fine season – no health issues. Of course Sam remained lazy and hardly pulled his own weight, while Dot was fabulous and survived another season with her teammate. I’m not sure how long she’ll stay sane if she keeps getting paired up with lazy Sam. Soon it might be a good idea to find another match for her. We would typically finish gathering in time for Julie to milk the cows and I was able to join Steve and can a lot of syrup as it came off the rig. This is great because it means there is no need to store the syrup in barrels then re-heat it. Lots of labor savings for me, natural resource savings on propane, and a lower carbon dioxide footprint too!
One strange thing about this season was that we made almost no dark maple syrup. Our total Grade B for 2013 was around 40 gallons, whereas in 2012 we made about 550 gallons! I know how some of you enjoy that grade B, so I’ve been able to line up syrup from other producers to make sure that you can still find, Pure Vermont Single Source Maple Syrup in mason jars on the shelf of your local grocer. You may notice I’m labeling this syrup as “Pumpkin Village” in order to maintain full transparency. If you are interested in knowing even more about when your syrup was made or canned, see the regularly updated post Syrup Traceability 2013
One nice thing about the season was we were ready for it to start early – which it did – then it froze back up and we were able to have a building raising! A number of friends and neighbors came by and with the help of the bucket tractor we stood the entire building in one day! It’s the new building for Pumpkin Village Foods that my father has been working so hard on the frame in all his free time, now that he’s retired! Ha. Look for a post, and photo gallery on this soon!