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What’s Up Down on the Farm

The Aiken Farm consists of 90 acres sitting on the top of  Windmill Hill, toward the southern end of that long ridgeline. It lies at the end of a little-used dirt road and it looks to the south. It has that “top of the world” feeling, like so many farms in Vermont. Vermont had soil, so hill farms were viable. The place has remained in use up to the present day, so it never grew up in brush or second growth forest. The pastures are well-established...

Greetings from Switzerland

The sort of e-mail we love receiving:

Dear hidden springs maple

We just wanted to let you know, that we flavour our weekend breakfast with your tasty maple syrup  - especially yogurts and Swiss Müesli! My wife also uses it for salad dressings and all other kinds of meals.

All the best from Basel, Switzerland

Lukas and Hae-Won

How does the sugar season end?

How does the sugar season end?

How does sugar season end? Spring asserts itself.  A series of unseasonably warm days with nights that do not go below freezing, and the runs peter out, or the sap gets buddy, sour, as the buds at the tips of the twigs swell and start thinking about blossoms and leaves. The syrup has darkened and the sugarmaker can tell that its character is about to move from “robust” to harsh and rank. The giddy hustle of...

Big Night last night

Last night the conditions were perfect:  about 45 degrees, light rain, and the ponds and streams are largely un-frozen. 

Perfect, that is, if you're a Vermont-resident frog or salamander who's been waiting, beneath the leaf-litter and snow, for a chance to make more frogs & salamanders.

So the folks at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center in Brattleboro sent out the message to their army of volunteers:  a Big Night is at hand!


Wrapping up the season

Went by the sugarhouse yesterday after a walk in the (almost snow-free) woods, and was a little surprised to see that Fraser was still boiling!  But he says he's just about done...he's turned off the vacuum (sap still running in, but slowing) and he plans to wrap it up today.

But what a run in the last 10 days!  The syrup window is just about full:

And according to his tally sheet, he's passed 8500 gallons:

But here is the real prize -- Fraser gave...

A Good Sap Run, part deux

We went back up to the sugarhouse today, to see what was happening.  It's been much warmer this week, and it almost hit 70 today (but still froze a bit last night) so we though it might have been a good week...and we were right!  According to Meghan they're "closing in on 7500 gallons" -- not a banner year (yet) but not too shabby.

Meghan runs the rig


The sugarbush is pretty amazing in weather like this -- still plenty of snow on the ground, but...

A Good Sap Run

Yesterday was warm and sunny -- something that's been rare these past weeks -- so Catherine and I stopped by her brother Fraser's sugarhouse to see how the sap was running.  Turns out it was running pretty well, as the video clip below shows.  What you're looking at is the vacuum collection chamber (my term...not sure what Fraser calls it); the pumps maintain a vacuum in the chamber and sap runs in (the clear pipes on the left) until the chamber is...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sugar season is in full cry. March is all about sugar season, here in Vermont. But, like March, sugar season is all about false starts. How easy it would be if it would just start, ramp up, run full bore, ease off and then stop. Not sure it has ever done that.

We got a good opening week. The severe cold broke, the deep snow pack promised a long season, the sugarmakers got a series of good runs, even a few overnight runs...