—Of all the things to worry about today, that’s low on the list, said Chief of Operations.
She had complained that the wood chunks for stoking the fire were all hardwood one day and all softwood the next. The ideal stoke is a blend of the two, the softwood (spruce in this case, harvested from the Halloween wind storm of 2017) burning hot and quick, the hardwood (maple, ash, yellow birch, beech) burning long and steady.
—Tell me, what should I worry about?
She’d already been worrying plenty about the visitors to the sugarhouse all touching the same pen to sign their credit card receipts, and touching the doorknobs, and the kids licking syrup off their fingers, though the parents were relaxed which just goes to show she hasn’t been around kids much lately. And then worrying about how to serve hygienic sugar-on-snow at Open House only to hear the event had been cancelled statewide – and that was a relief but also really too bad since this year all the ingredients for a good open house have lined up: plenty of syrup on the shelves already, a favorable forecast for sap weather, the crew trained.
And then her sister-in-law who offered to pick up groceries reported that skiers from Boston were stocking up on groceries in VT since the shelves were empty in the Boston area, and in fact the shelves were emptying fast in VT. Shaw’s was out of Cabot cheddar cheese. It was no surprise about the toilet paper and paper towels.
—What should I worry about?
—Overflowing tanks, he said. Density. Lack of sleep.
NIP AND TUCK: What a run. Often rain will kill a run, but all night it rained and ran like crazy. Today, it rained some more and just kept running. Then it cleared and felt like a true sugaring day, the sun warming one cheek and the NW wind cooling the other. We started collecting sap at 4pm on Thursday. The tanks overflowed for about two hours early this evening (Friday). Premium sap, too: crystal clear.
WHAT’S GOING ON? THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE: Carly was drawing a pail of syrup off the evaporator, having tested it for proper density, only to discover that when it flowed into the pail, the syrup was suddenly way “under,” meaning it was no where near heavy enough to be drawn off. Was sap leaking from the back pan? No. Was sap leaking from the adjacent trough? Unlikely. We didn’t solve this problem but we managed it. Then it healed.
QUICK, SCOOP SAP INTO THE MIDDLE TROUGHS: Scoop and scoop someone did, then two people did, until someone else noticed a plug that should have been pulled hadn’t been. Crisis averted.
RELENTLESS, this sugar season so far. We’ll probably boil til midnight, keep the RO concentrating sap all night, then start over on Saturday.