The Gravity Enhancer, Old Nellie, and Weird Sugaring Weather!

Mary Tebbett's sap spout collection

Mary Tebbett's sap spout collection

I know now that the phrase “short and sweet” originated with a maple sugar maker. This year, that same phrase has never held more true. Here at Under Orion Farm we generally produce the majority of our syrup at the end of March and the first couple weeks of April. Now, we may be ending our season when we would normally begin!

tapped maple tree

We tapped out this year in good time with loads of help from Shane and Robert, even replacing all of our drop lines  which added to the work.

We got “Old Nellie” out of retirment, fixed up a new “bitch-a-thane” seat, hooked up the sap puller, (I call it a “gravity enhancer”) and we were ready for snow.


This little sap puller/gravity enhancer gave us just enough vaccuum in the lines to save the season

It is an art to find vacuum leaks in the sap lines using the gravity enhancer. With the bad leaks you can hear air being sucked in the lines through holes or loose fittings. But on small leaks you have to watch the bubbles. If a line is leak-free, you will see no movement of sap in the pipes. With a leak, you will see the air bubbles moving along, fast for larger leaks, and slower for smaller ones.  The sap, with the help of the enhancer, is then run into a 1100 gallon storage tank, just above the sugar house, where it can be run by gravity into the evaporator.

vacuum gauge

measuring vacuum on the lines - we got 17"... That's a good thing!

The arch at full boil

Boiling is done (with the doors closed), as rapidly as possible. It takes loads of wood (I add wood every 6-8 minutes depending on wood species) to boil down the 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

that's right every 8 minutes....

"drawing off" syrup from the evaporator

When the syrup reaches the right temperature and density, it is drawn off the arch for finishing.

gas flame under the finishing rig

I had some good help…

Good help?


…and loads of visitors, who added their names to the wall….

Names on the wall

…but not much syrup….

liquid gold

We are boiling dark, flavorful syrup this year, about 1/3 of a crop so far, and have bottled several sizes for purchase. We boiled yesterday too, but not sure how much longer the sap will run without the cold nights.

My spout collection, hanging in the sugar house

The sugar house and an old fashioned sap bucket on one of the maples

Mary and her spout collection

So…Stop by the farm or give us a call and get your supply of maple syrup.

Get an up close look at the “enhancer” (aka sap puller), ride “Old Nellie”, or just walk around the fields and woods. The farm is a great place to be in the spring!

Hob-knobbing with the Senator at Cabot's Maple Fest


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