St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Thursday, March 5, 2015

Maple Syrup Season Starts this Weekend!

With temperatures forecast to increase into the thirties tomorrow and stay in the 30s and 40s for the next 10 days, it is time to get the maple sap buckets into the woods!
1990s version of collecting sap

My sap pan was made by Clayton's Hardware in the 1950s for Dad.  This is the first firebox tank--am on the third one now.  The one above was used in the 20s by a moonshiner and chopped with cuts along the bottom by the Federal agent "revenewers" and then carefully soldered back together. Photo is in probably about 1959.

This morning, March 5th, was -19 below on the farm and perfectly clear.  The last brutal cold day of the the season by all rational belief!

Listened to Norman Anderson of Anderson Maple east of Luck, WI, talk about the early days of maple syruping on his farm that turned into a full time business.  

One of the big changes was switching from flat pans for boiling the sap to an evaporator, and how that was so much more efficient with wood use.  I think that is one of those pans with the v-shaped bottoms that lets a lot more heat transfer into the pan.  

Makes me wonder if it is time for us to get rid of the 60 year old flat pan and try something new too.   An evaporator also has a regulated flow into it with syrup coming out -- sort of a continuous process.  Problem is that it requires someone to watch it carefully!  Our flat pan can cook for 4 hours unattended so only have to get up once at night.  Probably wait until I spring a leak in the old pan!

I am going to make a set of grates for the bottom of the fire box, a big old cattle watering tank.  Getting the wood up off the bottom should let it burn better.  Also need to insulate the sides of the fire box -- just wrap the outside with fiberglass -- even if some of it melts from contact.  

When a person no longer improves his system each year, you can tell he is on his way out!