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2018 Season Wrap-Up

Tina Hartell

April 23, 2018

Last boil. The sap just sputtered out. Nothing fun or dramatic like filter presses jamming or stinky, unboil-able sap. We just stopped getting sap. The period of time between tapping - early February - and these late sap runs was just too long. The tap holes started healing over and reducing the amount of sap we were getting. And despite the long season, it was only just average in terms of yield. We didn't break any production records although we did break a number of other records

Earliest boil: February 20

Latest boil: April 23

Longest stretch of time between boils: 24 days

Number of days boiling in April: 7 (we generally boil every day in April until the season ends). We had two week-long freeze ups in April. 

Number of feet of snow that came in March: 6

But, as our in-house first-graders say, 'You get what you get and you don't get upset.' We have no control when the season starts and finishes. All we can do is be ready and try to keep it going as long as possible. 

It seems the season is extending longer and longer. Back in the day, old timers wouldn't even start tapping until Town Meeting Day (the first Tuesday in March). Now people are tapping in January and having to keep the vacuum running in an attempt to prevent the tap holes from sealing. 

April 2, 2018

After 6' of snow, a 24-day freeze up, and a lot of powder days on the hill, the sap finally ran March 25 and we have been going straight out since then. We're hoping to push out through into next week although the weather isn't too favorable. We're constantly scanning the long-term weather forecast for when night temperatures will be consistently above freezing, as that signals the end of the sugaring season. Until then, I am hoping to make the last 1/3 of our crop. 

March 11, 2018

The sap stopped running March 2 when the first of the two nor'easters blew through. The second one, which hit March 8, dumped 30" of snow on Bobo's Mountain and through the mountains of southern Vermont. Between powder runs, we finished off the syrup in the pans, cleaned them, and are now waiting for the next sap run which really may not come for a while. Another storm and up to 12 more inches of snow is coming tomorrow. The sugarbush is buried, and I am hoping optimistically that the snow will "settle" before uncovering lines and fixing anything that's popped or broken in the last two weeks. 

February 28, 2018

The 2018 sugaring season has exploded onto the scene like Chloe Kim and Jessie Diggins in Pyeong Chang. We boiled seven of the last nine days in February. And the sap keeps running. And we keep filling barrels. What this means for how the rest of the season plays out is anyone's guess. 

Improvements to the sugar house this year include a separate, insulated kitchen area with a coffee maker and stove; actual chairs; and a brand new barrel mover. It's the little things. 

Magical Mystery #1: Our filter press and reverse osmosis filters have been working hard to keep up with what appeared to be dirty/mineral sap. We thought it was just the first sap run and it would clear. But it didn't. Then we thought there was something amiss with our equipment, so we checked around. It turns out many sugar makers in our area (and maybe beyond) are experiencing this, and that the word on the street/text threads is that there is a high manganese content in the sap that is choking all our filters. If anyone can explain this and why it's cyclical -we haven't experienced this before- give us a shout. I haven't had time to research it: I've been too busy making coffee.