Please note: This post is originally from March 2009.
"The Sugar Shanty"
Making Maple Syrup has been a family tradition for 6 generations in the Maple Woods. Its tucked in the woods about one mile north of SwissLane Farms.
This year we have 1,500 taps.
Yup! That means we have to empty 1,500 buckets on the days that the sap runs!
The best Maple Syrup weather is below freezing at night and above 45 during the day.
Luckily, lots of neighbors and friends like to enjoy the oudoors and lend a hand:) We empty the buckets into 5 gallon pails and then dump them into the barrels that the tractor pulls through the woods.
We pump the sap from the barrels into the Evaporating Pan. It takes 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of Syrup.
So, we have to evaporate all the water out of the sap.Once most of water is evaporated out, we let it into the Finishing Pan.
The fresh sap pushes the more dense sap through the partitions. See the steam there, the smell of the sap evaporating is the best!
The Shanty is pretty High-tech now. When the sap reaches 219 degrees its SYRUP! This automatically opens the valve and dumps the syrup into a can. It shuts the valve when it drops to 218.9 degrees.
It takes a pretty hot fire to make all that syrup.
We have so many big strong guys in the family to cut wood and build fire. This is Cousin Fritz taking a turn.
The syrup needs to be filtered after is comes off the pan.
This is Gramps at his canning post. So far this season he has canned 170 gallons. Last year was a record setting year with a total of 400 gallons.
You have to work for your water back in the woods!
Here is Cousin Tommy pumping water from the well to wash the filters.
This is Uncle Tom cranking the filter through the antique wringer then he'll hang it out to dry the rest of the way.
The cuisine is one of the best aspects of Maple Syrup season. You can't beat hotdogs boiled in sap on the old Woodstove!
Ronnie and Gretl trying to keep the fire going. Luckily, we only have to be Pioneer Women a few weeks out of the year.
Brad is just one of the many friends that comes to join in the fun (and work). We pay all helpers with a sap-dog and all the syrup they can drink in one night.
The tradition of measuring the kids on the door of the Shanty lives for another generation.
Joanna (9 years old; my oldest) getting measured. If you look close you can see one of my marks on the door next to her. She is taller than me at 10!
All that work makes for some pretty tired (and dirty) kids. I am so thankful that we have this opportunity to teach our kids to appreciate nature and the miracle of Maple Syrup!