St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Friday, April 2, 2010

End of maple syrup season

Today we pulled up the maple taps and buckets and are cooking down the last batch of syrup. The buds are out on the maple trees and the sap has stopped running--almost 3 weeks early. We will have about the average 1 quart of syrup per tap hole this year. Testing our maple trees sweetness ran from 3.5 to 6% (refractometer readings).

It is the earliest start, earliest end and shortest actual run I can remember. We had about 1 week that the trees ran moderately well. Last year was a double production year, this one about average.

A few spring flowers, hepaticas, were already blooming in the woods--normally happens about mid April. Everything is early this year and dry so far. A few sprinkles as of 12:30 today. Our area has had three consecutive years of below average moisture--very dry for parts of the season. Last year it was dry April - July. Earlier years July through September. Bad enough to effect the crops and the gardens.

The beavers finally showed up on the open lake two days ago. I thought they might have been trapped over winter. Several sandhill cranes are doing their spring mating rituals in the fields just south of the cabin. Lots of ducks, geese, on the lake with a pair of trumpeter swans often there. The tree swallows showed up yesterday along with the Phoebe. Lots of robins. A couple of black butterflies with yellow fringed wings were around yesterday. Most of the fish that died over winter are cleaned up by the eagles, crows and gulls. A few eagles are still on the lake in the morning.

We will clean the buckets and sap equipment and put it away for the season. My healing broken leg worked pretty good and I was able to carry buckets on side hills. The knee feels stiff, and a little insecure (probably from already losing the ACL back in 1988 skiing). But it works!!

Starting to thunder right now--maybe our first rain of the season to green up the grass!