Sap run, finally, I hope.

March 25, 2013

40 litres of partially-boiled sap had sat for two weeks since the last run, and the grad students in the Queen’s Biology Department were eager to visit the bush Saturday as part of their celebration of Roz’s completion of her Phd. Trouble was, a wicked north wind chilled the woods so that only the buckets on the south side of sheltered trees would actually run.

So I lugged the two, 25 litre covered pails from the shop to the shack, then heaved them up onto the counter. Which promptly collapsed under the weight. Oops. One pail punctured. Poured the sap into the pan. No real harm done. Turns out lag bolts, however sturdy they may look from the outside, must be longer than 1″ if they are to hold 1/4″ steel angle irons to pine 2X4’s. Four longer screws solved the problem and the large oak boards, freshly planed for the occasion, became a bottling counter once again.

With a limited quantity of fluid in the pan I had to time the finishing boil quite carefully, or I’d run dry and face the ignominy of adding tap water to my hard-earned maple syrup. But the fire added cheer to the sugar shack, and soon everyone was gathered round, quaffing mugs of Canada tea and shooting portraits of each other through the steam. Visitors make Canada tea by sneaking over to the tap on the pan for a bit of vigorously boiling sap drained over a tea bag. The sugar content of the sap was a little high today — Roz renamed it “diabetea” — so Charlie dusted off a chrome kettle from behind the stove in the shop and boiled some water to dilute the sugar. This worked.

An expedition to the bush produced much activity and many pictures, but only a little sap. Nonetheless, we had a good afternoon and the crew headed off to Elbow Lake for a dinner party. The pan survived to boil another day.

Sunday’s run was again hampered by the north wind, though it looks as though things will get serious today and through the rest of this week. Now, if I could only find my BRIX meter to test the sugar content of the syrup….

Photographer Robert Ewart was along:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rewart/sets/72157633074672159/

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