Hurricane Farm

  (Scotland, Connecticut)
A view of life on our farm
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Spring Work

The maple sugarin' season was very short this year with a low yield.  We made about 25% of what we made last year.  Lucky for us we have a very diversified farm and we don't rely on one product/season.  My advice is that if you are looking to get fresh CT maple syrup this year, snap to it!  Many of the larger producers will be buying their syrup in bulk  from Canada and re-bottling it in their own containers.  If you want REAL CT syrup.  Go buy it before the end of April.

In other news, we have a busy day on the farm:

Erica and the the kids are going to the sugar bush to gather all the buckets.  Then we will need to clean and store all the maple syrup making equipment.

I'm working on the first batch of chicken coops.  We've already sold a few and have customers waiting.

We've also just acquired some new calves and the turkeys and chickens are arriving later this week.

The eggs in the incubator in the house should be hatching any day, as well as the various clutches of turkey and chicken eggs "hidden" under hens throughout the barnyard and barn.

Another batch of bees should be ready for pickup any day.

Manure needs to be loaded, moved, spread, and tilled. 

Spring veggies need to be planted.  Seeds need to be started.

WOW!  Let's get busy...!  New photos of SPRING to follow.


Of Rust and Tools

Not sure what it is...but most everything around here has a bit of rust to it. 

Sort of makes it better, I think.



First Batch of 2010 Maple Syrup

We had the evaporator firing late into the night over this past weekend and our results yielded our first batch of 2010 Maple Syrup! 

The full moon was out, the steam was rising from the pan, and Hurricane Farm's Official "Taste Tester" was on the job!

It's the moment of truth.  Violet grabs her tasting glass and takes a "sniff":  "Mmm.  Sugary," was her first verdict.

She takes the first taste of the year...and...

It's good!  Her smile tells it all...

We ended up with a very nice "light amber" for our first batch.  The pan is still full, the holding tanks are at maximum capacity, and the sugar bush is still pouring forth the sap.  It looks to be a good season so far...

Erica worked late into the night boiling down to the finished product, filtering the syrup, and then bottling it up.

Our first bottle of 2010.  Yummy.




Winter Continues

It was "supposed to, maybe, probably, it could" snow all week here in Connecticut.  We had rain.  But...Friday came and so did the snow.  Finally!

The maple buckets are in the woods and there is a fresh layer of clean, peaceful snow on the ground.  Perfect conditions for woods-walking and maple sugarin'!

The ducks and geese love it.  They take this opportunity to escape from the mud and clean their feathers.

Even the hogs like the snow, since it gives them something new to dig in.  This one is almost ready for market.

This is Butch.  He seems to be the current ruler of the barnyard.  He doesn't mind the snow, and is the first one out of the barn despite weather conditions.

The Sugaring fully piped, roofed, and ready to keep on sugarin'.  We'll be adding some tin roofing in the Spring time.  As it was, I was barely able to finish it to this stage before the sap started flowing!  It works great, though, and now we can sugar in all sorts of nasty weather.

Here is one of our "snow plows" hard at work.

Another shot of the new Sugarin' Hut.

Here's Liev heading out to "plow" the "bridges" that we've put out to get us across the small streams and into the woods.

With all the rain, the water in the woods is flowing quite rapidly!  In fact, some of the jugs that we set out on some the trees are now inaccesible.  The larger brook has swollen beyond its banks and we can't get to some of the maple trees to retrieve the sap.  Paco the Cat, however, does not seem bothered by this.

We use milk jugs to gather the sap once we run out of metal buckets and 5 gallon pails.  You can see a couple of the jugs on some trees that are now in the midst of the brook.  We'll have to wait to collect from those for a while...Or else brave the bitter cold water?  I think we'll wait...At least until my Dad comes down and is loking for a job to do!  Bring your waders, Dad!

Another tree now in the middle of the brook...

Finally, here is a cool tree bound by wild grape vines.  Pretty neat find out there at the edge of the woods.


The Sap Flows!

It took only a few hours and a sunny morning to get about 100 taps in.  We dug out the buckets, lids, tools, and spouts, loaded up the trucks, and headed across town to the sugar bush.

The owners of the land that we use have been hard at work clearing out the brush, thinning the trees, and making the sugar bush more productive.  You can see in the above photo some of the smaller trees that they had cut down to allow the larger trees room to grow.

The darker hole in the photo below is the hole from last year.  To the right you can see the a new hole with fresh sap already dripping out.  We generally put two taps per tree.  This works out well as the two taps will generally fill a five-gallon bucket each day during the sugarin' season.

The first step once we make it to the woods is to lay out the buckets at each tree we plan to tap.  We put out about 50+ buckets today.  We still have at least 50-60 more spouts to set back at our farm.  Hopefully we'll get to this in the next day or two.

A few slight knocks with a hammer and the spout is set!

One a sunny day like this, the sap starts to flow before the drill bit is removed from the hole.  It starts with a steady stream, but then slows to a pulsing drip.  Those drops sure do add up, though!

Once again, everyone lends a hand.  First we loaded up the trucks.  Then we unloaded them in the woods and set out the buckets, covers, and spouts.  Finally, we drilled and set the spouts into the trees.

It takes some focus and concentration to score a direct hit with the hammer!

The old-fashioned hand drill (brace) works better than an electric drill, in our opinion.  Less noise and more elbow grease makes for some contemplative moments in the woods.  (The more keen of our readers will notice something about the photograph below.  Examine last year's photos...any takers?)

Teamwork all around makes quick work of the trees in the sugar bush.

The buckets are set, the trees are tapped, the sap is flowing...Maple lovers prepare to have your taste buds tantalized!



Bringin' In the Wood...Maple Anyone?

With the roof on, the trees tapped, and SNOW in the forecast, it was time to bring in some of our dry firewood.

Our design of a post/pole building leaves plenty of open room for the sunshine, for fresh air and ventilation, and for stacking wood!  We started with the remaining slabwood from last season and then moved on to some of our super-seasoned hardwood.  To get the sap boiling, you need as hot a fire as can be mustered.

The stacks of wood will also make a nice windbreak.  An added bonus!

Every one in the family lends a hand at maple time.

Once we get all four walls stacked, it will be as if we're in a bear den.  And...once the evaporator is firing, it will be nice and cozy...

It's almost SUGARIN' TIME...


Work on the Sugar Hut Continues...Frantically!

We've been planning for a couple of weeks to tap the maple trees today (President's Day).  So...for the past couple of days we've been frantically working on getting the sugaring hut finished up.

Erica and I were able to move the evaporator--about 1 foot at a time--all by ourselves.  We removed the pan, the smokestack, and even the doors.  We were able to get the whole thing down to what seemed like only 1 ton.  Nicely done!

But...the sugar hut still needed a roof.

First we needed to add the chimney pipe and make a cupola for the steam to escape.  We're going to extend the pipe 2 feet up from where it stands in this picture so that it gets sufficient clearance over the cupola.

Have I mentioned how I do not really like ladders?  I must have back when we were posting the pictures of the meat chicken coop.  Anyhow, I've been getting better, but I still don't "prefer" the task...

Meanwhile, Liev was stacking milk crates.  Then knocking them over.  Then stacking milk crates...

Here is the cupola just about finished.  We'll still need to shingle the roof, but that will have to happen after this year's sugarin'...the sap is already flowing!

We used double-insulated Class A chimney pipe to connect to the evaporator's smokestack.  When researching smokestack installations, I learned that most sugarhouses seem to go with single wall galvanized roof jacks (which cost WAY too much, by the way).  Also, they tend to incinerate the roof, making yearly replacement a tradition.  Not cool!  So, we opted for more of an "interior wood stove" installation.  Better safe than charred!

Perched like (an uneasy) bird.

Soon to come...we move in the wood and tap the trees.  Stay tuned!




Construction Continues on the Sugar Shack

Last weekend we started to put the roof together for our sugar shack.  It will ultimately be an open-walled pole structure to house our maple syrup evaporator.  We'll be able to make much more syrup once we're able to get a roof overhead the whole operation.  No more standing around in the cold drizzle!

The first task in getting up the roof was to set the ridge pole over the center of the framing.  I got the longest 2 x 8 available, but I still wish it was a few feet longer so I could have an nice overhang on the end.  I have an idea as to how to make an overhang in a slightly different way, so it will still probably work out.

Next we had to measure out the angles for the rafters.  I personally do not enjoy doing math, so we measured out the first rafter while holding it in place.  We got the perfect angle on the second try.  Not too bad.  This rafter became the "cookie cutter" by which we measured and cut all the others.

Measuring out the first rafter was a two person job.  Luckily, we have enough ladders.

As a side note, the weather is starting to become hat-weather...Nice.  My favorite time of the year!

A cluster of turkeys watches our progress from the background, while their constant gobbling urges Erica further up the ladder.

The first rafter is measured and set.  We ended up completing 1/2 of the rafters.  Today the plan is to finish up the roof and get ready to put on some covering and make a cupola from which the steam from the evaporation process will escape later in the week.

Did you know?  Rafters make great race-car ramps!



Upon Building a Sugaring Shack

There are lots of new things here at the farm.  We're always keeping busy...

Work has begun on the Sugar Shack.  We decided that since we really enjoy the outside aspect of sugaring--especially on those sunny late-winter noons--that we'd build an open building.  The idea is to make a pavillion style building that is attached to the barn.  We'll have a roof to allow us to suger through the rain and snow, but we'll also be open to the air around us. 

I started this project by setting four posts into the ground just off the rear of the barn.  This is a pole building, meaning it will not have a foundation; rather, it will be secured to the ground by the corner posts.  I used some of the larger cedar logs that I had remaining from my fencing projects.

Yes, I'll have to move that pallet of bricks YET AGAIN...This will be the third time that I'll have picked those up, one by one...It is handy to have bricks around, though, so I can't complain too much.  They should be added to our official list of necessary farm items.

Next, I used some large threaded rod to secure the back posts to the barn for extra stability.  The roof of the shack will peak perpendicular to the barn and I'll also attach the ridge pole to the roof of the barn.

I had to buy an extra-long drill bit to make it all the way through the post and the barn.  I also used it to drill through the posts at the top where I mounted the beams with 12" carriage bolts.  Using bolts results in a much tighter and more secure connection.

Here is a picture of one of the beams that I constructed out of 2 x 6 dimensional lumber.  I made four beams in total.  Two 10 footers and two 12 footers.  The size of the building will be 12 x 9 when finished.  We'll have plenty of room to upgrade to a larger evaporator in a year or two. 

I have mounted the beams and am ready for the next step:  to install the ridge board and rafters.  I still need to figure out the best way to vent the chimney pipe and have to also construct a cupola which can open to allow the steam from the evaporator to escape.  Luckily, I have some great books on contruction and sugaring.

Stay tuned for more updates as the warm weather ends.  This project needs to be done before it snows!



Night Time Sugarin'

The sugarin' season is just about up, but here are some photos of last week's late night boil.

The whole family was out there working on making the sweet stuff, and we managed to even rig up some lights so we could see what we were doing.

We had a "warming" fire going as it was starting to get pretty cold again that night.  It hit about 20 degrees, but the sugaring season is so short that one must take advantage of every possible moment!

We had a pretty yummy dinner out there!

We even set up a little serving table!  We're so lucky that the kids enjoy this sort of thing...

In the past, I mentioned that we have the fire so hot in the evaporator that you can sometimes see flames licking out of the smokestack...In the next picture you can sort of see them shooting out a little bit.  Watch out!  Hot fire!

We still have a few more gallons left to boil, but it looks like we'll be topping 11 gallons of pure maple syrup this year!  Quite an improvement from our make-shift efforts with Hotel pans over an open fire...

Gallons of our finished syrup ready to be bottled into glass jars...Yummy!


Truly a Family Affair

Every since we started farming--with four chickens and a rabbit--our family has been keen on lending a hand.  From my dad, who chops wood, gathers sap, and gives tractor rides, to my Mom who brings really tasty spinach salads, to Erica's Mom who makes us custom "Hurricane Farm" T-Shirts, to her Dad who allowed us to have a "farm" when renting out his house.

Then there is my brother:

Above please note how he is examining the power cord that I am currently using to illuminate my sugarin' operation.  He's a fire-fighter and a consummate stickler for details.  Thanks to his unceasing vigilance, we have yet to burn anything down (accidentally) here at the farm.

There's my  Dad and brother working hard keeping the boil going.  I have to say that my dad split a ton of wood and we were able to boil for three days on the stack that he left us with.

One of the greatest things about this new evaporator is that we make so much syrup that we need to draw some off while boiling...We made over 5 gallons of syrup from that last boil!  Above see my Dad using his new gloves to hold the hot pan.  Look really closely...I labeled them "Left" and "Right."  Heh heh.
We have a good time here from time to time!

Thanks for the help throughout the sugarin' season, Dad!



Update on the Sap Flow in Scotland, CT

Update on the sap flow here in Scotland, CT.  (How come they did away with the old Conn. abbreviation, by the way?  I was always partial to that.)

We added 10 more taps in our new sugarbush up the road and collected the sap that ran over the past 24 hours...100 gallons came in from the new taps.  This is prime time for maple sugarin'!  At this rate, we will have to be gathering in the morning and the afternoon.  The trees here in our woods have also picked up and we gathered another 30 or so gallons.  Since we're in a valley, our temperatures are always about 10 degrees below the rest of the area.  Not so good for the early sap run, but great for extending the sugarin' season!

Did I mention how useful these things are?

We'll be sugaring in earnest now for the next several weeks it looks like.  If you are in the area, give a call and stop on by to taste some warm maple syrup.  It looks like some snow for the next few days, so we can serve it up "sugar on snow," the good old fashioned way!


It seems like our farm grows a bit more by the day.  Last week, we had a conversation about sugaring with some folks who have 100 acres on the opposite side of town.  Yesterday afternoon found us setting 50 taps in their pristine sugar bush.  We are now up to about 150 taps and the sap is flowing.  The new evaporator resulted in the best and clearest batch of syrup that we've ever made!  We bottled on Monday and we're set to start boiling again this weekend.

We've completely sold out of full CSA shares and have a waiting list for next year, so it seems.  We may have a couple of half shares left, but the response to this endeavor has been stunning.

Orders for chicken coops for Spring delivery are rolling in and we are thinking of taking in more hogs as demand for our pork keeps coming in.

Speaking of expansion...We've been eyeing several fields at the end of our road as well as across the ajoining road.  We are hoping to be able to come to some arrangement to perhaps lease the land, rent the land, or put in an offer to buy some of it outright to expand the farm.  Of course, the sort of capital needed to buy a field is not easy to come by, but there are at least opportunities for our farm to grow right here in the local area.,+ct&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=19.588751,36.5625&ie=UTF8&ll=41.719984,-72.09044&spn=0.008969,0.017853&t=h&z=15

Here is a link to the Google Maps Satellite image of our place.  Our place is marked with the bubble "A."  The fields in question are an inch or so to the North and East.  Much of these are for sale. 


First Batch of Maple

We fired up our new evaporator and worked on our first batch of maple syrup yesterday.  We'll be finishing off a little over a gallon of syrup this morning!

We were warned by several people--both in books and in person--to NEVER let the level of the sap get too low.  Otherwise, we might scorth the pan and ruin it!  (Psst...I actually did this to one of my little pans last year, don't tell anyone.)  So to avoid this devastating mistake, we designed a measuring tool.  Note its fine wood grain, robust coloring, and tightly hewn edges.  With a little practice, we were able to keep the sap level just above that bottom line.  This meant 2" of sap in the pan.  Perfect for evaporating.

Here is a picture of the steam rolling off the top of the pan.  It took some adjustments, but we eventually learned the correct amount of wood to put in and the frequency of feeding the fire.  It needs the hottest fire imaginable! 

Here you can really see the fire cranking.  We were planning to use some of last season's left over--and really dry--hardwood for sugaring.  That is what I used to do.  However, the folks at the maple sugar making store suggested that we use pine, as it burns hotter and quicker and is more desirable for use in one of these units.  We had about 1/2 cord of slabwood from the local lumber mill left over from our summer parties and we used most of that yesterday.  Erica called the mill and they delivered a little more than 3 cords of slabwood yesterday morning.  That should be enough to hold us for the sugaring season, but the mill has plenty more and is more than happy to deliver.  That's a relief as we were a bit concerned about our truck when they loaded that first bundle in back in the summer.  The truck was riding LOW...

Back to the issue of keeping the sap level constant.  When in full blaze, the evaporator is supposed to handle 8-10 gallons per hour.  We did a little measuring and timing and it seems that we were close to 10 at our peak yesterday.  Lots of improvement from my exploits in previous years.  Below is a my "S.D. 3000."  We like Wallace and Gromit here on the farm and tend to name our inventions the way they do.  (Anyone recall the B.V. 6000?)  I used--that's right!--a five gallon pail and added some plumbing.  It takes a little patience to get the valve dripping just right, but the old "Sap Dripper" is doing its job.  I might switch over to a ball valve as they seem to be easier to adjust than the gate valve that I am currently using.

The "S.D. 3000" attaches to the evaporator via a hose and is able to supply fresh sap on demand.  Once I move the evaporator into the sugarhouse, I will be making the "S.D. 4000" which will not only drip sap into the pan but will preheat the sap.  I will be running some coils of copper tubing around the lower portion of the chimney pipe where it exits the firebox...That should heat up the sap as it drips from the bucket and help speed up the evaporation rate even more.  Who knows, maybe I'll work on that sooner...

My Dad came down again this weekend to lend a hand.  This photo finds him skimming the top of the sap to remove some undesirable content (a little ash still gets in from time to time as we are still boiling out-of-doors). 

Of course, there is lots of waiting while sugaring, so we decided to work on some other farm tasks.  We have a batch of replacement laying hens--about 45 or so--that need leg bands so we can identify their age.  My Dad figured out the banding tool right away.  Glad I didn't try this by myself.  I probably would have ended up banding my thumb to my index finger!

And then, of course, there is the tasting of the syrup...

Both Violet and Dad's not done yet.  This was Violet's third or fourth tasting.  She was out there with her wooden spoon just about the time that I finally got the fire going!

We'll post some photos of the finishing and bottling process as it progresses.



A Grandfather's Painting

Here is a photo that my Uncle sent me after I mentioned one of my Grandfather's paintings in a previous post.  I am not sure when he painted this one, but the one below of him actually painting is from 1963.  I imagine that Grandpa painted the snowy maple sugaring scene after a winter's drive to VT with my Grandma and Uncle.  They were always driving around to points North, South, and West.  They oftentimes would go points East, but that would require using their boat (which they had).


Below is a photo of Grandpa working on what I believe to be a painting of a wharf in Rockport, MA.


We owe quite a bit here at our farm to my Grandfather, I suspect.  He always bought me REAL tools for Christmas, even when I was 4 and 5!  He would take me down into his cellar workshop and let me pound nails into scrap wood with my hammer, or let me reorganize his nail-holding coffee cans.  I use the same system here in my workshop and our kids have hammers and enjoy pounding nails into scrap wood too...


Making Sugar: Part Two

It's back into the woods to start gathering sap.  It's been still pretty cold at night--it got down to 10 here last night--but the sun is doing its work during the day and there is sap to be gathered.  Here's Liev making his way across our smaller brook.

As I've mentioned before, we like to put people to work here at the farm.  We like them to feel like they are at home, and we all know that there is no sitting around while at home.  Here we have my Dad tapping a tree.  Watch out for that poison ivy, Dad!  Everyone helps out.  Liev is carrying the bag of spiles and Violet is supervising and explaining to my Dad how to use the brace.

A closer shot of my Dad hard at work.

In addition to using the new 5 gallon pails, we also put out our older style buckets on some of the smaller trees.  Even though they have to be emptied more often, I think that they have a warm old-fashioned feel to them.  My grandfather was a painter and he had a fondness for painting maple sugaring scenes.  There is one large painting at my Uncle's house that offers a glimpse of the sugaring process complete with oxen pulling out the sap from the woods!  This photo of our buckets reminds me of my Grandpa and that painting. 

Finally, here is our "Maple Syrup Quality Control Tester" hard at work.  Note that she does not feel it necessary to wait for the sap to be actually processed into syrup!  Her verdict:  yummy!



Maple Sugaring Commences!

For the past two days we have been trekking back and forth from the woods, hauling in planks to get across small brooks, hauling in tapping supplies, and hauling back our two children when they are finally ready to go inside.

We have a series of photos to share from the past two days.  The photo spread will take you from the arrival of our new sugaring equipment through to the tapping of the trees.  We will be adding more as we fire up the new evaporator for the first time.  I made a pretty cool device that will allow us to continually add sap to the boiling pan and I will add a photo of that later on.  It seems that the camera is on strike from being dropped in the snow...

Here is the new gear arriving from New Hampshire.

And here we have it all unloaded out behind the barn.  We have used a combination of aluminum buckets and milk jugs in our previous experience making maple syrup, but with our new evaporator we will need LOTS more sap to keep up.  So, as you may recall from a prior post, we are resorting to one of the most useful farm implements all around:  the 5 gallon pail!  We'll be adding 50 more (for a total of about 100) taps this year.  Also, the buckets will be nice as we can empty them once every other day instead of the twice daily routine with our smaller pails and jugs.  It is pretty far out to the woods, afterall.

You can see that we have the evaporator just about assembled in this shot. 

The next step was tapping the trees.  We still have a bit of snow on the ground out in the woods, and there are also lots of hidden "water holes" beneath these patches of show.  Look out!  There goes a boot!

My son has taken to using the brace and bit.  If we're not watchin him, he'll have every tree in the area tapped.  I wonder how oak syrup would taste? 

Here is Erica carrying the tubing.  We're using short pieces of tubing to connect the spouts (technically called "spiles") to the buckets.  In the future, we might run tubes directly from the trees out of the woods to large gathering drums.  We would start tapping the trees higher up, about 6 feet, and then gravity would help move the sap out of the woods as we slope down to the drums.  We're not sure that we want tubing running all through the woods, though.  I guess we will decide on this once we've determined the relative fun-to-labor ratio of hauling this stuff out by hand this year.

Here is a close up of a tapped tree.  On a good tapping day, you should be able to see the sap start dripping out.  If you look closely, you can see it starting to run out of the hole. 

Here is shot of several trees tapped alongside of our stream.  This summer the stream swelled significantly during a series of storms.  It was well up beyond the buckets in the photo.

And here we are after working hard at enjoying a hobby.  My son snapped this one whilst the camera was still with us.

Part two to follow.  Stay tuned...




The new evaporator is here!  Erica went up to New Hampshire Friday evening--returning at midnight--to pick up the supplies. 

With the help of my father, who put in some solid work while keeping strong hold of his advisory role, we assembled the evaporator.  It is supposed to use 40 firebricks.  We managed to use 48 of them.  We got it all together, ready to try out, and.....The doors did not fit!  Someone at the old evaporator makin' factory drilled the holes in the front doors incorrectly.  The doors DO fit upside down and backwards...Hmm...too much Moosehead up there in the Canadian factory, perchance.

The good news is that Chris, one of the guys at The Maple Guys, where we bought the unit, is sending a new set of doors to us today.  We should be up and running tomorrow making our first batch. 

We'll be posting photos of the tapping of the trees later on today...


Sugaring Time is just about here...

It looks like it will be just about time to tap the maple trees here in Connecticut this weekend.  We are expecting highs in the 40's and lows in the 20's for a week or so.  This will be perfect to get the sap flowing in the trees.  As we mentioned before, we are making some new acquisitions here on the farm.  We've made some progress in the silo front, and Erica is going to check it out in person and get some photos next week.  We really can't install it until the ground softens up. 

Until then, though, our thoughts are on sugaring!  We have placed a deposit on a new evaporator.  It is a long way off from our homemade deal that we have used in the past years.  We actually started with a tiny pan on a mobile fire-pit, and then progressed to a series of woodstoves and cinderblock evaporators.  This year we will be moving up to a much more efficient system.  Not only will we cut down on our wood consumption, but we will also be able to cut down on all that sitting around and waiting that accompanied each of our older evaporators.  Not that sitting around and waiting isn't an integral part of sugarin'...but we have lots of new chores this year at the farm to fill any and all "free" time...

Here is what the new evaporator will look like.  Erica is going to try to pick it up this weekend, and with any luck we will be sugarin' in a few days.

The next shot is from our latest homemade setup.  We actually were pretty darn effecient for a homemade deal...we had a pre-warmer, two evaporator pans, and a raging fire...You can see that the sap is boiling away in the front pan.

Finally, here is a shot of a group of visitors learning about how to make maple syrup at our place last year.  Erica is always encouraging folks to come by and visit or tour the farm.  And I'm always looking to get some helpers in any and all farm tasks!  We use an old-fashioned brace to drill the trees.  That was a great Christmas gift that Erica was able to get for me at the livestock auction two years ago.  Sure beats the cordless drill and most assuredly beats using five extension cords (did it the first year!).  We have some "real" sap buckets, but never we supplement our sap collecting with 1 gallon jugs.  It seems that most large producers have been switching over to tubing, so there are lots of used buckets to be had.

We'll give an update once Erica returns from New Hampshire with the new equipment.  We've already decided on the location of the sugarhouse, for which I will "break ground" with an official ceremony of sorts as soon as the snow is gone this year.  I hope to start framing it up over the summer and maybe use it next year.  This year we will have to sugar outside again and cover the new gear with a tent to keep it dry and safe between sugaring sessions.


Almost time for sugaring...

After last week's cold snap, everyone was talking about frozen pipes and frozen noses.  But that sort of cold weather reminds us that sugaring season is not too far away from us here in Eastern CT. 

It's just about time to start setting up the evaporator, cleaning out the sap buckets, and locating all those gallon milk jugs that we've been saving all winter.  Below is a photo of my two helpers hard at work during last year's sap run.

The one in the red hat is also known as my "official syrup taster."  In fact, she came out with spoon in hand about 30 minutes after I fired up the evaporator...And to her credit she was able to hang out all day and wait for her chance to "test" the syrup.

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