March 14

March 15, 2010

WEATHER: Repeat of March 13, with intermittent rain showers. Sap still running.


SYRUP STATUS: Pushing 1800 gallons, grade is dropping due to lack of freezing nights.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Man, is that doing that again?”  (Uttered by L. at the upper sap shed after testing out a new method of rinsing the giant tanks up there.) What he heard was the vacuum pump suddenly shifting its tone from a tenor groan to an alto whine.

We make syrup with our ears, alert to changes in the pitch of the boiling sap, the roaring fire and the filter press pumping finished syrup. We listen to the reverse osmosis machine in the next room. The timer goes off and we check the temperature of  cleaning water heating up in another room. And we listen to music on the boom box and sing along.

ARCHIVAL JOURNAL ENTRY: O Brother Where Art Thou has just the right feel as sugarhouse music. It goes with muddy boots, sticky floors, steamy pans, tired sugarers. And it makes all right with the world.

MACRO: Many weekend visitors.

MICRO: Bright-eyed eight-year-old triplets, two girls and a boy, sitting on the back bench, delighted by the steam as it ebbs and flows over their heads.


March 13

March 15, 2010

WEATHER: 30’s by night, low 40’s by day. Sap keep running, less during the night, a bit better during the day.


1) Filter tank (where the finished syrup is)  is full to the top, needing simultaneously to be tested for density and run into a drum (barrel).

2) Evaporator door sticks – it won’t open or close.

3) None of the drums are clean and ready to be filled.

L. starts rinsing out a drum wiht hot water, then leaves it to grease the sticky door. Tells A. to take care of the drum. A. thinks this means she should fill it. Meanwhile the sap roars in the pans, the fire roars in the arch.

4) Syrup gushes out through an opening half way up the side of the drum. The bung never got screwed back in.

5) Flood of syrup on floor.

6) Filter press needs to be changed right away, pressure is too high. This chore requires the full attention of one person for at least ten minutes.

7) Outside, a big tank full of permeate water ( water squeezed out of the sap by the reverse osmosis machine) overflows and gushes over the bank, undermining the stone wall and depositing muddy silt at the entrance to the sugarhouse.

Meanwhile, the sap roars and boils into syrup, the fire needs stoking.

8) Turns out there was still water in the drum with no bung, so since the syrup still in there is diluted it must be drained out.

In walks a neighbor and her eight-year old son for a visit. They are sugarhouse rats and pitch right in cleaning up and stacking wood.