Hill Report from woods crew wizard Ross Scatchard:     Puzzled

Doing the line check on KO [lowest line on Keystone] the other day, a couple of the sap lines seemed different from the others. I was in the tired, thirsty, constantly hungry, and slightly cross-eyed state that comes from chasing bubbles and small leaks in the tubing all day. These bubbles were just like the millions of others in the many miles of tubing, only they were moving slightly faster, which denotes a leak somewhere up the line.

So these ‘speeders took me on a tangent from walking the main lines and brought me to a mystery. The shade of tubing changed at a T-fitting, and so did the bubbles. Curious. Having seen this bubble syndrome before where sap is backed up in the line above the T and bubbles are apparating from this 1″ plastic fitting, I quickly diagnosed the source of the air leak. Out came the tubing clips, utility knife, pruning snips, and tubing tool. It was a quick and painless surgery.

Leak fixed, I slogged up the remainder of the line, running my hand over it as I ascended. This can serve two purposes; sometimes you can find a leak by passing your hand over the small hole and catching the spot where air is hissing into the line. Mainly though, the line can by used like a rope fixed on a steep hiking trail to assist climbing a tricky bit or terrain. As I worked my way up, the tubing felt rippled under my hand and I could see rings every 1/2″ or so in some sections.

Same tubing, different camera setting.

I cut a section out and brought it back to the sugarhouse for closer inspection. The crew was intrigued.

Cyril said flat out,”I think it’s aliens.”

Lew was convinced of animal damage, saying, “It has to be, it has to be an animal. But what critter got in there and did that?”

I think a different batch of tubing was used in this small section of woods and it degraded more quickly in the elements.

So, here is the mystery. Several of the regular blue radial sap lines on Keystone have a different appearance only in one isolated section. It is a slightly lighter blue color – which can happen from certain animal damage, It has strangely consistent rings only in a small area – which could point to aliens and their affinity for crop circles. All the Keystone tubing was installed in 2010.

What do you think the answer to this mystery is?


Ross back at the factory.


Silva Soundings from Craftsbury:      

The Silva family (Tom, Laurie, Michaela, Anna, Gabriela, and Joe) graced the sugarhouse (and the blog) for years. This past summer they moved from Nebraska Valley to Craftsbury in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont.

Tom wrote this past week:   Nothing but Smoke and Steam

Sugarhouse in Craftsbury. Photo Credit: Tom Silve

I’ve never seen anything like it when it comes to Sugaring. Seems like the whole town was boiling today. There’s over 30 Sugarhouses around the area. Everywhere you looked today you could see the steam rising.

These are just a few Sugarmakers around my house in town. Season is just getting going. Today was a great run for most of them.

Most of the Sugaring operations are still using Buckets.


Gathering sap in Craftsbury. TS photo




Sugarhouse in Craftsbury. TS photo












2 thoughts on “Nothing but Smoke and Steam

  1. interesting tubing mystery….think first off what Lew’s dad woulda said…I’m voting factory defect however improbable since its just a small section…hmmm…nice photo’s


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