Friday, June 1, 2012

Evergreen Brick Works Farmers' Market

I am disappointed to let you all know that we will not be attending the Brick Works Farmers' Market this summer.  Unfortunately, due to the small crop this season, we do not have enough syrup to accommodate both markets.  We are still attending the Orillia Farmers' Market every Saturday, and we look forward to returning to the Brick Works next year.  I will really miss my Saturday mornings at the Brick Works and all of the friendly and now-familiar faces there.  Our farm is always open to visitors (please call ahead), and our products are also available online this year  It will be fun to visit the Brick Works as a leisurely Saturday morning shopper!  Hope to see many of you soon...

Saturday, March 31, 2012

"Next Year Is Going To Be Better"

The 2012 syrup season is coming to a close even before April arrives.  We washed all of our sap lines during the heat wave a week ago.  It was good weather for that job, because you get soaked from head to toe!  This week, we have been busy bottling up this years' syrup, and we are almost finished with that job too. The syrup has great flavour this year, but unfortunately it will be in short supply - we wound up with about half of an average crop.  

We are finally getting syrup weather now - below freezing nights and mild days - but it is too late.  The buds on the maples have opened, and the trees are beginning to grow leaves.  Even though the sap is running, it has a 'buddy' flavour, the sugar content is very low, and it won't make good maple syrup.   "Next year is going to be better" - the farmer's mantra. 

Our sugarhouse will be open on Easter weekend, every afternoon from 1:00pm - 5:00pm. Please call ahead if you are planning to visit at other times. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Peepers Sing An End To The Season -- The Earliest On Record

Unfortunately, as we feared, the warm weather did indeed produce a short season and the earliest end to boiling in our 40 years of sugaring.  Our final boil for the 2012 season was at midnight on Saturday, March 17th.  The spring peepers are singing loudly tonight, a sure sign that the season is over. It's an almost perfectly reliable (and fascinating!) piece of folklore -- when we hear the small chorus frogs' call begin to ring in the night air, the following day the sap run is finished.

Many hopeful maple followers have asked the question, "but what if the weather gets cold again now?".  There is a chance that more seasonable temperatures will return by the end of the week, but the warm nights have caused the maple buds to swell and give the sap a 'buddy' flavour, which is sharp and unpleasant.  The only silver lining to the season's end is that Dad will finally get a full night's sleep - the first one in a week.  With the lack of overnight frost, the sap ran slowly but steadily for days on end.

We were out in the sugarbush today, beginning the task of washing the saplines.  It feels like we just finished putting them out!  Our sugarhouse will be open most afternoons this week but please call ahead to check - (705) 835-5780.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Warm Weather Forecast Not Looking Good

Thanks to all of the visitors that came out to the farm for our opening weekend.  It was nice to see some familiar faces, and to hear some expert taste-test reports that this year's syrup has excellent flavour!

Unfortunately, the wacky weather that produced the "winter-that-wasn't" continues to bring above normal temperatures that may bring an early end to the maple syrup season.  Our earliest season end date on record is March 22, 2000, but 2012 may prove to be a new record if the weather forecasters are correct. After record breaking sap flows on Sunday and Monday, it is slowing down now as the temperatures have remained above the freezing mark since. We need frost at night and above freezing during the day to keep the maple sap flowing, but the long range forecast shows no below freezing temperatures for the next two weeks.  The concern now is that it will remain warm enough for the buds to begin growing on the trees, at which point the flavour of the syrup changes, and is no longer pleasant.

Although it is March Break, and you are all probably enjoying the unseasonably warm days, we ask you to cross your fingers that the weatherman is wrong this time.  We are hoping for just a few more weeks of cold overnight temperatures...

And as for those of you that are planning visits to the farm, we do have some fresh maple syrup bottled up for sale.  However, please keep in mind that the sap is not currently running if you are wishing to see the farm in operation.  Keep your eyes on the weather report and our blog to see if colder sap weather returns.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sugar Moon

The first full moon in March is known as the "Sugar Moon" because it usually comes around the time when the sap flow is at its peak. This year the full moon in March is on Thursday, March 8th. Every syrup maker looks forward to boiling sap on a calm, moonlit night, watching clouds of sweet maple steam waft up from the sugarshack...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Opening Weekend 2012

The weatherman is predicting a bright and sunny weekend with above freezing temperatures in the afternoons. We expect that to get the sap running and it should make for an ideal opening weekend! It will be a perfect time to visit the sugarbush; bring your boots and enjoy an early spring walk through the woods, and of course enjoy some fresh made sugar-on-snow! We will also have some of the new crop, first-run syrup bottled up and ready for sale.

We will officially open Saturday, March 10th, and will remain open seven days a week until the end of the season. Our hours are 1:00pm - 5:00pm daily. It is a good idea to phone (705) 835-5780 on the day of your visit, as our phone message is updated each day with information on whether or not the sap will be running - remember, the trees require freezing temperatures overnight, and above-freezing temperatures in the daytime for good sap flow. Looking forward to seeing you all soon!

Getting sticky! Happy kids enjoying some traditional sugar-on-snow at the farm last season

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Still Winter

We are living in anticipation, but in the struggle between winter and spring, winter is winning this week. The sap flow will begin when spring-like temperatures return to above freezing during the day.

Some fresh snow in the woods will hopefully help to
keep the ground cool when temperatures do eventually rise.

Our sugarhouse will remain closed this weekend, as we are yet to have any fresh maple syrup for sale. At this time, we hope to open March 10th, but please check back here at the end of next week to confirm.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Little Blast Of Winter

Looking out the window today paints an entirely different scene than it did this week. A good amount of fresh snow, cooler temperatures, and high winds are reminding us, as least temporarily, what winter feels like. It was too cold yesterday, and we expect it to remain too cold this weekend for the sap to run. However, looking ahead, the forecast shows some potentially good sap weather coming next week. Our sugarhouse will remain closed until we have some fresh maple syrup to sell.

As an interesting aside, here is a picture of some of the animal damage that we've been finding in the woods this winter: The bites are larger and more aggressive than the usual chewing that we see by squirrels. Not sure what type of animal has a newly acquired taste for plastic, but we suspect the damage occurred some time in the fall. Always a new challenge to keep us busy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Off To A Quick Start

If you've got an ear for maple news, you may have seen or heard some of the recent stories that were popping up on the radio and television over the past few days. With the noticeably mild weather and the taste of pancakes fresh on their tongues after Shrove Tuesday, people are thinking about syrup time! Many news stories featured local sugarmakers being rushed off their feet trying to get ready for a season that seems to be squarely upon us.

We are happy to report that the gorgeous weekend weather combined with lots of helping hands from family allowed us to now have the majority of our trees tapped! We've been working hard checking over and repairing our 30 km tubing system, and it is tight and ready for the flow to begin. The sap ran lightly on Wednesday, and when we measured the sugar content of the sap, it was quite high at 2.6%. Looking at our charts from previous years, that level of sweetness doesn't usually occur until close to mid-season, anywhere from Mar 15 to 30! We hope to collect more sap on Thursday, and then have enough to "sweeten the pans" - an old-time syrup makers expression for the first boil of the season. It won't be long before we have fresh syrup for sale - we'll let you know as soon as it's ready!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Where Is Winter?

The beginning of February marked the official halfway point of winter, though you sure wouldn't know it around these parts. With regular swings in temperature bringing us up over the freezing mark, and rain and fog being weekly occurrences, it's been feeling like spring sprung early this year, and winter never really arrived at all. Consequently, we have been hearing lots of questions from concerned maple fans who are worried about the unusual winter and it's potential impact on the syrup season.

Typically, winter is a time of hibernation for the maple trees. Sugar makers usually begin harvesting sap as winter wanes (usually around the beginning of March) when freezing nights give way to warmer days, creating ideal conditions for sap flow. This year, we have been experiencing these freezing and thawing trends steadily throughout January and February without much in the way of a consistent freeze. As usual, when it comes to attempting to predict Mother Nature, the impacts of this winter on the syrup season at this point are unknown. It would seem that all signs are pointing to an early season, but it all depends on the weather. And even the weather forecasters admit they're only right 50% of the time.

And so, heeding Wiarton Willie's prediction, we have started our preparations for the 2012 season. We began tapping on Valentines Day, Tuesday, February 14th. The sap was running some that day, and even more the following day, but it was "no flood", according to my Dad. He also collected a pail full of the sap to test, and the sugar content was good -- higher than it sometimes is in the beginning of the season. And hopefully, he says, it will get even better as the season progresses. The lack of snow makes it easy to get around in the woods, we don't need snowshoes this year. But it does mean that the animals have remained active and have damaged our tubing more than usual, so we've got lots of work to do!

Unfortunately, we are sold out of last year's syrup and the sugarhouse will be closed while we continue to tap the trees and prepare for the upcoming season. Please continue to check the blog for more updates; the countdown to that delicious first run syrup has begun!