Archive for March, 2010

Last open house!

Tomorrow, Sunday, March 28th is our last open house of the season. That month flew by!

We have a good size group coming to visit us from the Heifer Project of Rutland, MA. This organization does great stuff in the world, and we’re happy that they will be stopping by. The Heifer Project helps families across the globe improve their nutrition and generate income in sustainable ways by giving them gifts of livestock and training. In exchange, they ask recipients to give one of its animal’s offspring to another family in need.

We’ll be open from 11-4, our usual Sunday hours. And, believe it or not, I think we will be boiling. Joe thought the season was over last week and started pulling taps and cleaning tubing. He kept his options open at Moose Brook sugar bush, though. Because that spot stays cool and we have it on a vacuum pump system, we were hoping for one last run. It looks like that will be the case. Last night it was down in the teens, and today is up over 40. So the sap is running. Check out the video and see the system at work. It’s easier to see than to explain in words.

Hope we see you tomorrow. We have plenty of maple syrup, and we have candy all made. We plan on making the cream tonight. Wonderful farm fresh sweets for those Easter baskets!

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Pure Maple Cream

Today the thermometer read 70 degrees. That’s not sugaring weather—that’s beach weather. Don’t get me wrong, I love to feel the warm sun on my face as much as the next New Englander after a cold winter, but this is just too much too soon.

It’s been a pretty bad year for making maple syrup here in Massachusetts. Well, in fact, it’s been a really bad year. We’ve barely made a third of what we usually produce and Joe’s thinking the season is going to close early given the summertime temps.

Our new vacuum pump has definitely saved the day, though. Joe set it up in a flurry of activity just two short weeks ago down at Moose Brook. That’s the coldest spot of all, since it’s low, shaded, and near the cool water. So the sap starts running late in the season but usually goes the longest. With the vacuum pump it’s really increased sap production. Good thing, too, since everyplace else has stopped running!

The good news is that we made the highly sought after maple cream and maple candy. We had some folks stop by during the first open house with the list of Easter baskets to fill with the maple treats and I felt bad that we hadn’t made any yet. Now we have some! No matter how much we make, we always sell out of those items, so come to the open house Sunday and pick yours up before they disappear.

The forecast this Sunday looks lovely. There’s no mud on the farm—with all this warm weather it’s dried up the soil. And Joe and I just got back from visiting Moose Brook and we have a full sap tank of 400 gallons. That means we WILL be boiling tomorrow. Yeah!

Come enjoy the great weather, eat lots of maple candy to get a sugar high, and see the evaporator in action.

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I was bragging last week when we had 50+ degrees and a gorgeous sunny day for our first open house of the season. No more bragging for me (well, at least for today, anyways.)

Today was a miserable day. After running all over town with Joe yesterday to fix a broken sap pump, we awoke this morning to a power outage. The wind was howling, so I assume the lines were down somewhere in town. No power means no maple candy or cream (need the stove to do that), no reverse osmosis machine (which we use to take off excess water), and no evaporator (it’s oil fired and needs juice to run).

We were dead in the water.

Plus, if we didn’t get that 1,300 gallons of sap boiling soon, it would spoil. Once you make maple syrup, it lasts a good long time. But in the sap stage it spoils rather quickly.

All in all, not a good way to greet the day. So we did what anybody would do when the situation is dire. We went for coffee.

Luckily, by the time we returned, power was back on and we were in business. The healing power of caffeine is amazing.

Although the power was on, the public stayed away today. Can’t say as I blame you. It was nasty weather. We did have a few hearty souls come by and say hi–including some other sugar makers in the area. You can meet them on the video below.

I hope that next week will bring us better weather–and more sap. We’re behind on production. This week’s weather seemed ideal for sap, but it just wasn’t flowing at the rate we expected. And the other sugar makers said the same thing. Well, nature is fickle.

I’ll keep you posted on what happens this week….

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This past weekend was the first official open house for the sugar shack. We couldn’t have asked for a better day. The sky was clear, bright blue and the sun was strong and warm – it must have reached 50 degrees. I didn’t check the thermometer because I was too busy greeting people!

Usually the first open house of the season is my “make-sure-I have-my-stuff-together” day. The typical weather is cold and gray. Only the heartiest (or those with the greatest itch of cabin fever) make it to the farm.

This year was different.

The fantastic weather brought people from all over – Boston to the North Shore to locals here in town. The library was having an all-you-can-eat soup lunch, so many of the locals enjoyed some hot soup before meandering over to the farm.

It was only the family working this weekend – Joe and I and the two kids. I’m so proud of my two children. They have become very comfortable educating the public about how to make maple syrup. Jon in particular has really grown into the role. He used to be a bit shy doing the public tours. He now greets people as they come down to the sugar house, asks them if they would like to know about the Asian Long-horned beetle (a very pesky bug threatening the New England sugar bush) and gives a bang-up history lesson of the different types of spouts used through the years to make maple syrup.

I thank Mother Nature for providing such a great day. And I also thank Kim of Chestnut Hills Farms here in Hardwick, MA. She sent an email to her CSA members telling them about the open house–and lots of them came. Thanks, Kim! It was great to meet some of your wonderful shareholders. I especially enjoyed chatting with the guy who smoked his own bacon in a homegrown smoker cobbled together with two cardboard boxes!

Jenn from the Hardwick Winery also connected with the farm. You can now get our maple syrup at her place. If you’ve never been there, it’s worth a trip out. With great vistas of the Quabbin hills, and local cheese and wine, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

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