March 21

March 21, 2010

WEATHER: Wet accumulating snow in the morning, melting snow in the afternoon, high near 40. No sap run.

SEVEN DAY NITER PRIMER, Sunday. The easy way to filter syrup is to pour it into a jug and wait. The niter settles out as sludge in the bottom of the jug. Then why don’t sugarmakers use this method? It is impossible to rinse the niter off the bottom of 30 or 40-gallon barrels, and no one wants to buy niter, not the customer who is buying a gallon nor the big distributor who pays by the pound. There is no easy way; filtering syrup is a chore. But my, how that clear syrup does glow in a glass flask by a sunny window!

ARCHIVAL JOURNAL ENTRY: March 21, 2000. Yesterday evening Lew sent 500 gallons of sap down the drain by inadvertently opening the sap tank gate valve in the RO room. Clyde and I heard an unusual clicking sound, plus the sap tank gauge wasn’t reading, but we didn’t figure it out until Lew woke up from his evening power nap.

Lew had to rebuild the pipe between the arch doors. A trip to Leo’s Welding in Moville for me.

Major flue leak while cleaning flues. Pans drained, disassembled, flues reshaped, leak soldered. Tools – buckets of sweet – guys – filth, for a few hours.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: Sugar season is a cross between childbirth and a vacation.


March 20

March 21, 2010

WEATHER: Balmy this morning, chilly this evening. A northwest wind set in and suggested a change of weather. Moody skies.

SAP STATUS: No sap in the tanks.

BOILING STATUS: No boiling. Will we boil again?  No one knows. One neighbor said years ago, “Sugar season isn’t over until the fat lady sings.” We haven’t heard her yet.

SEVEN DAY NITER PRIMER, Saturday.  Larger sugaring operations filter syrup by pumping it through a filter press. First they stir diatomaceous earth into the hot syrup. DE is a white powder of one-celled organisms deposited on ancient ocean floors. It does not dissolve in the syrup but forms a suspension. The DE sticks to paper filters lining a whole rack of square metal waffles and spacers. As the syrup passes through, the DE absorbs the niter. When the filter press is full, the crew takes it apart, replacing the paper filters and dumping the waffle-like cakes of mocha residue in a bucket. Lots of light syrup can be run through the filter press before it must be cleaned, not so with the dark syrup and its slimy niter.

MACRO: Nebraska Valley kids, two boys and a girl, cooking sugar-on-snow on the picnic table in front of the sugarhouse.

MICRO: The sixth-grader spooning bubbly syrup on a bowl of snow to test it.

The high school sophomore smiling as she cuts up pickles.

The third grader rolling up sugar-on-snow on his fork for the fifty-ninth time.