WEATHER: For 48 hours from Wednesday morning to Friday morning (2/15-2/17) the temps stayed above freezing, in the high 30’s to mid 40’s. During Friday the temp plummeted to the teens. New snow thickened the sky but didn’t amount to much. Saturday (2/18) remains below freezing. A thaw is forecasted for Sunday afternoon.

HOW’S IT RUNNING? The sap ran during the 48-hour thaw. The rate of sap collection rose as the woods crew repaired squirrel chew and other leaks in the tubing network. Word has it that even the cold sugarbushes north of here got decent runs. We aren’t the only ones who scrambled to get set up so early.

BOILING STATUS: We boiled Thursday 2/16 and Friday 2/17, beating the previous first-boil record of February 20th, 2017 by four days. To quote the 2022 blog:

“It is a relief to have gone through the shakedown cycle. Most people don’t want to sugar in February – it just feels too early – but, on the other hand, the Cobweb Boil looms each year as a scenario of leaky valves and flues, frozen pumps, missing pieces of custom-designed drain hose, avalanching firewood, and the perils of forgetting one of the nine steps to setting up the hoses for rinsing out sap tanks – and now that’s behind us.

We careened through to the other side.”

But wait! There were no leaky flues this year! After 31 years we invested in a new back pan. Our style of back pan is designed with flues – parallel slots – which drop down from the base of the pan. They fill with sap. The heat from the wood fire passes between flues, boiling the sap much more efficiently than in a flat pan with its limited surface area. The challenge of 2023’s first boil was to learn the temperament of the new pan.

Out with the old….and a wistful farewell to the blue side board…

….and in with the new. The christening with sap. Christian chose to not smash the bottle.

The christening toast: “To the Maples…..To the Sugarers before us… The New Back Pan!”

Chief of Operations writes:

The Love Balloon

Chris found it late one dreary afternoon while walking out of the sugarbush. What made the discovery particularly remarkable was that it was Valentine’s Day. He said it made his day.

Others were more skeptical of its purpose, and the rumor spread it was a foreign reconnaissance balloon. Larry suggested it had been shot down by NORAD. We brought it into the sugarhouse for further analysis, enlisting the help of new crew member Ingrid who has experience as a professional detective. It was quickly determined that this balloon embodied the essence of pure affection, and any shady connection to espionage work was debunked as just another baseless conspiracy theory.

It has since been pinned to the window over the mail order counter where its glow brightens the day for all the sugarhouse workers performing their mundane chores.

6 thoughts on “Earliest First Boil: February 16th

  1. My wife T’s last night’s gift to me included Honey Crisp apples, roasted garlic, blue cheese, uncured chicken bacon, a pizza crust and of course, Nebraska Knoll maple syrup, poured over everything.

    Delicious! Pancakes soon! Thanks.



  2. Congratulations on no leaky flues! Also for your sense of humor and appreciation of the Love Balloon. Love powers all that you and the crew do thorough the crises, exhaustion, and the wonderment.


  3. We finally got around to boiling yesterday, capping off the frenzy of activity that gets this place moving every year. So far no major foulups – a dead pump here, a leaking radiator there – and now a forecast that looks a lot like skiing. This is the first year I haven’t had a thousand projects to take care of during freezes, and I’m very excited to throw myself downhill.


  4. Hi Elyse, Thanks for sending the link. I like that it includes the legend of why the sap is so watery.

    During the first boil there was no snow to speak of and abundant light from the upper windows streamed into the evaporator room. Recently the new snow slid in a curl off the roof and darkened the space. All bets are on as to when we will again be able to see out the windows. The trouble is, no one is here to place a bet since we aren’t boiling! AC


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