It is that time of year. It’s still cold winter, but I’ve been walking my sap lines and gearing up for sugaring mode. Around the state, “Sugaring Widows”, (wives, husbands, or partners, who are abandoned for a month or so every spring, given up for a sweet temptress amongst the maples) are preparing to support the operation or celebrate the time alone that the sugaring season offers. And, hopefully, last year’s customers are finishing off the end of their syrup on pancakes, in pumpkin bread or baked beans, on top of ice cream, and however else they use it.
Over the past year trees in my sugar woods have blown down on lines. Squirrels have chewed little hard-to-find holes in the drop lines. Arrant moose have not stayed on the trail system and instead just walked where ever they wished, dragging sap line with them. So, I walk the lines repairing the damage, and pulling it all from beneath the snow. I tighten up the system so the sap all flows down hill to the sugarhouse.
I am using a “sap-puller” again this year to help increase production. This is equipment I added last year. I call it a “gravity enhancer” because it adds a little bit of suction to the system. It is very susceptible to air leaks and a lot less forgiving then a regular vacuum system. On the other hand, it is also less complicated to set up and less expensive to buy and operate. There is a learning curve to mastering an airtight system and tracking down the problem spots, but at the end of that learning process you can increase the length of each day’s sap run by giving the flow of sap a boost from the “puller”.
To increase production I am also replacing of my old “health spouts” with new check valve spouts. The check valve spouts prevent the sap that has come out of the tree from flowing back into the tree, decreasing bacteria build up around the tap hole. I cut off the
old health spouts and replace them with an adaptor and the check valve spout. These spouts are disposable and will need to be replaced every year; I have around 800 of them to change out.
When the sap begins to flow this spring, I’ll be spending long hours each day leak checking the sap lines and boiling sap. Until then, I may only be spending a few hours a week on my sugaring operation but it is very much in my mind!