March 17

March 18, 2010

WEATHER: A decent freezing night last night, getting down to 26 for seven or eight hours. Today was the mildest yet, in the low 50’s and sunny. Good run.

MORNING CRISIS: Blew a hose trying to start up the RO before the line to the permeate tank thawed out. Down at the hardware store impatiently buying five feet of new hose, I told the owner it was a sugaring crisis and he said that’s all he’s been dealing with these days.

KEYSTONE, continued. The tubing here is state-of-the-art. Eight main lines run vertically up from the big main like tree trunks, and the skinny tap lines run into them like branches. Each tap line has only five to eight taps. The terrain dictates the layout: in a gentle bowl at the top of K6, many many tap lines converge at Penn Station.

SEVEN DAY NITER PRIMER, Wednesday. Technically, niter is malate of lime. It is not toxic but it could give you the runs. Some people prefer their syrup with the niter in it. They’ll catch the syrup in their cups as it is pouring off the evaporator and drink it straight up.

DRIVEWAY MACRO: Mud or mud-covered ice bordered by receding snowbanks, tall pines or brooks.

DRIVEWAY MICRO: All you hear is water flowing: spring runoff. All you feel is cold air emanating from the brooks.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “What is the other mistake I keep making? My mind is in such a fog I can’t think of it.”

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March 16

March 18, 2010

WEATHER: Below freezing (27) for four hours last night, high today in high 40’s.

SAP STATUS: This warm weather sap is no longer as clear as a glacial lake.

SYRUP STATUS: As a result, the grade has dropped. Today we made borderline A Medium Amber/A Dark Amber syrup.  Passed the 2000 gallon mark today.

TOUR OF THE SUGARBUSH, continued: Starting back at the sugarhouse we’ll hike up to Keystone, the parcel of state-owned land we are tapping for the first time. This parcel fits between Morningside and the MainMain like a keystone, or like the space between the two arms of the letter V.

Keystone Main Line follows Herbie’s Highway, named after Herbie Leach who hauled logs out on this logging road in the 70’s and early 80’s. It ascends steeply at first, then moderates where it cuts close to Falls Brook. Just before ┬áthe Falls Brook crossing, we will leave Herbie’s Highway and follow the mainline up another logging road. The entire south and south-east flank of mountainside to our right is Keystone. The woods feel spacious and welcoming to hikers and snowshoers. There are many beautiful maples. Presiding over the higher, rougher terrain is The Old Foreman.

SEVEN DAY NITER PRIMER, Tuesday. The quality of the niter indicates how far along sugar season has progressed. During those early runs there is little niter, you don’t see it except as it sticks to the pans. If a sugarmaker dips her scoop into the trough and what comes up is half syrup and half sugar sand, she knows early season is over. She is happy to see the coarse, gritty sugar sand since it means the season is here to stay for awhile. And heavy, sandy niter filters well.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: ” M says to tell you she’s bringing dinner up.”