Signs of Spring

So what's the weather in the North Country? We are having very cold nights, with temperatures barely in double digits, and relatively balmy days, with more sunshine and temperatures in the thirties and forties.

Maple sugaring weather.

The sap is starting to run. I saw two people dumping buckets into a plastic tank on the back of their truck on Saturday. At work, the weekend's run produced over 300 gallons of sap.

There are two basic approaches to sugaring in our area, old school and high tech. Old school folks hang buckets, and use wood-fired pans to cook the sap down to syrup. These folks use lots of wood, because it can take 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. High tech folks run pipe lines on the trees, letting gravity do much of the work of collecting the sap in large tanks. Some high-tech operations use vacuum pumps to bring the sap right to the sugar house. The ultimate in tech is the reverse osmosis machine, which reduces the water content of the sap. Less water in the sap means less fuel is needed to make syrup.

We buy a gallon of syrup nearly every year and we are in desperate need right now, because our supply is getting mighty low. I wonder what the local price of a gallon will be this year?

Two things are guaranteed to lift my heart at this time of year: the appearance of sap buckets, and the reappearance of the warm weather birds. I heard male red-winged blackbirds yesterday morning, staking out their territories. I think this is the earliest I have ever heard them. I hope they are finding food to eat.


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