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Degree Days

Tina Hartell

During sugaring season, I am forecast obsessed. I’m not a true weather geek because, while it’s super cool, I have no idea how to make weather-forecast models based on existing data. 

So I just frantically check two different weather forecasts probably to the tune of six times a day.  It’s strangely necessary because a 2-3 degree difference in either daytime or nighttime temperatures can determine whether the sap will run through the night, when we turn on and off the RO during the day, if the sap tank could overflow, when I might actually go to bed, when we start boiling, etc. Temperature becomes the governing factor of my entire day for weeks on end.  

I find I interact with people differently too. I’m horrified that people don’t know that we might get 1” of freezing rain on Thursday or that the nighttime temps will be above freezing for three straight nights. HOW COULD YOU NOT KNOW THIS! Can you believe that it’s not going to get above freezing for the entire first week of April?!? Unthinkable! What is going on? And wait till you see what’s going to happen on Tuesday!

But that’s farming, and we are farmers because of this one fact: We are temperature bound. We cannot control the temperatures and the temperatures control when the sap runs. What we can control is how much sap we get once it starts running and how quickly we can process it. But we can’t make it run.

But then sugaring ends and spring eventually does come, and I find I might go an entire day *gasp* without checking the weather. Or I might look at the week’s weather on Monday and then be duly outraged when the sunny Friday predicted on Monday is actually rainy, and  I happily get caught in rainstorms and wear too many layers.