Sunday, March 31, 2013

Good Season So Far

The weather has been co-operating this week, and we have been collecting and boiling sap every day! 

It has been nice to see lots of happy faces at the farm, as many visitors have been out to learn about the syrup-making process and stock up on our delicious "liquid gold".

Full tank of sap - Still cold enough when this
               was taken to have some ice

                                                                  Lots of Steam!

The weather forecast continues to look promising, and we are hoping for at least one more week of freezing temperatures over night. If you are interested in seeing more photos and updates from the season, please check out our Facebook Page!

Monday, March 25, 2013

"A Perfect Day" - Words from a Syrup Maker

Like surfers waiting for the perfect wave or gamblers looking for the perfect hand of cards, maple syrup farmers wait and dream about the perfect sap day.  A day when all the forces of nature combine to produce that elusive flood of maple sap.
The ideal day begins the night before with clear skies and calm winds.  The stars twinkle as the temperature slowly drops to -5C.  The snow is frozen hard by morning but the rising sun soon starts it to melt.  By 11AM, the maple trees have thawed and sap starts to drip from the spiles. By 1PM, sap is running hard,  as much as one litre per tree per hour.  The sky is brilliant blue dotted with a few puffy clouds.  A gentle west breeze shakes the tree branches.  Temperature hovers around +5C.  Sap runs hard until evening when the sun drops below the horizon, the breeze stops and the temperature again drops below freezing. 

That’s the textbook recipe for maple syrup making nirvana.  But seldom do things unfold according to the book.  Last year (2012) didn’t have a single day even close.  This season has been better but we’re still waiting for that "perfect day".  Maybe it will happen, maybe it won’t and it’s that uncertainty that makes syrup making so much fun and so addictive.

                                                                                                                   - Ken McCutcheon 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Opening Saturday March 16th!

McCutcheon's Maple Syrup will be open for visitors, beginning Saturday, March 16!  We have been able to catch up on the many repairs we've been working on the in sugarbush, and have collected and boiled our first batches of sap.  The next few days look like they might be too cold for more sap to run, so that will give us a chance to bottle our first 2013 syrup and it will be available for sale this weekend!  We will be open from 1pm - 5pm. Hope to see you!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Getting Close!

We are so close to having fresh syrup again!  The weather this week was just a bit colder than predicted, so we have not had any large runs of sap yet.  The trees did thaw out for a few hours the past couple of afternoons, just enough to enable us to check our lines for more leaks and squirrel damage.  Unfortunately, we are still finding problems, including one main-line that shattered in the little cold snap on the weekend - very unusual.

The forecast looks promising, so fingers crossed that the weatherman is right!  We will let you know as soon as we have some fresh maple syrup made and bottled, and we are open for visitors!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Preparations Continue - Lots of Repairs

We have been working hard every day, and we are getting closer to having all of our maple trees tapped and ready for the first sap run of the year.  Unfortunately, our preparations have been a little slower than we would like due to an extremely large amount of squirrel damage.  The squirrels chew through the plastic tubing and spiles creating holes which allow precious sap to leak out, and disrupt the vacuum pressure in the lines.

This must be the tastiest spot - we have seen a lot of spiles like this one.

We have had to replace many drop-lines and spiles;  a process which is both time-consuming, and an additional expense.

At least 200 drop-lines we have cut out and replaced.  Still lots more that need fixing.

If you are interested, here is a short video on the tubing repair process.  You can also watch it HERE.

Those pesky squirrels must have had itchy ears this week, as they were getting called all kinds of nasty names!  Despite the minor frustration while working today, at one point dad said to me, "You know, syrup making is really fun!"  Still having fun after 41 years, love it!  Mind you, he did caveat that by saying, "when you aren't in a race with Mother Nature."  Haha!  Well, as it stands right now, we are in good shape to be ready.  The forecast is looking promising for next week, but of course that can change quickly.  Stay tuned for more updates!