The March sun bakes the snow on the picnic table that at storm’s end measured 27 inches.

WEATHER: First it snowed for three days, then the sun came out and drew everyone outdoors for three shimmering days, then the air warmed enough on the first day of spring to wake up the trees, then the clouds moved in along with snow and plummeting temps, and today the sun returned and the temp rebounded to the high 20’s.

HOW’S IT RUNNING? The sap ran on Monday the 20th. We expected the run to choke off Monday night, but it didn’t freeze; the sap ran poorly all night and drizzled all day Tuesday. So far this season there have been no “gusher” runs.

BOILING STATUS: We boiled on Tuesday. On Wednesday we needed to boil for a few hours to finish up. It was the coldest-ever day of boiling (10 F.). While cleaning up at the end of the boil, water and snow on the cement floor froze to a hazardous veneer of ice.



Emma draws syrup into the pail at the finish trough.

The front pan has four divisions called troughs. The sap enters the front pan on one side and works its way back and forth until it reaches the final one, called the finish trough, where a person stands and monitors the density of the sweet (a noun denoting the almost-syrup) and opens a gate valve every few minutes to draw, or drain, the thick-enough-to-be-called-syrup into a pail, in our case a stainless steel pail that holds four gallons.

Every few hours, we switch sides: We reverse the flow of sap in the pans, with a little plugging and unplugging, so that the sap flows into the front pan at the finish trough and works its way back and forth to the new finish trough on the opposite side of the pan.

If the person who is drawing needs help she calls out, “Pail!” Whoever is nearby walks over to the pail, picks it up, and carries it to the dumping station, a tub from which the syrup is pumped through the filter press and into a tank.

Now, fill in the blanks using these vocabulary words:
finish trough
switch sides
dumping station

On Tuesday evening, neighbor L., who walked up for a visit and soon got to work scrubbing, cheerfully responded to A.’s cries of _____ again and again. Pick up, carry, dump; pick up, carry, dump. Then A., who was _______, decided to ___________;. Immediately after a ____ , she filled up the pail again with ________ that was meant to be dumped into the new ____________.

A. plugged this, unplugged that, picked up the scoop and hydrometer and walked around to the other side where she plugged off the new ___________ and scooped as much sap out of it as she dared without risking burning the pan. Meanwhile, L. picked up the pail of ______ and did what she always did: Pick up, carry, dump. Only this time the pail was supposed to be dumped into the new ___________, not the ______________ where, if pumped into the tank, the ______ would ruin the density of the evening’s syrup.

When A. discovered the _______ in the _______________, Chief of Operations called out to J. to quickly loop it back into a bucket before it got pumped. Phew, that was a close one.

L. said in her bright manner, “If my grandfather were here he would say what he often said to us grandchildren when we were little, ‘If you do that, your name will be M.U.D.'”

No mud here.

A mere two hours later during clean-up, A. gave the go-ahead to the crew to change the papers in the filter press. Goo and gunk oozed out of every plate all over the floor and under fingernails, mucking up the all-important holes in the plates. If they had just waited until morning, the niter goo would have consolidated.

A.’s name was M.U.D.



QUOTE OF THE DAY, uttered by an amused visitor, “So the sap runs through a state-of-the-art tubing system and reverse osmosis machine and it ends up in a PAIL?”


Falls Brook ice hooves




3 thoughts on “March, Round Two

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