Posts Tagged With: Bobo’s Mountain Sugar

Fired Up

To mere puny humans, the weather of late has made no sense. One Sunday morning you’re sitting on a bucket down-cellar, blasting hot air on a block wall to thaw the pipe from the well, which froze because it was twenty-frickin’ below zero outside, and the next there are robins in puddles in the dooryard.

The maple trees, however, seem to be fine with things as they are and the first run of sap in this neck of the woods has dribbled forth.

First Steam, 2016

First Steam, 2016

With the last of more than 2,000 trees tapped just the other day, the collection tank filled and today the arch was fired up for the first boil of the season at Bobo’s Mountain Sugar.

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A February Boil

When cold sap first warms enough to give off steam, the reaction to that smell is primal, like to the call of a loon or peepers on a warm May night. Intimately familiar in a distant, foggy way. Continue reading

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Emerges, Snarling

The curmudgeonly demeanor so essential to my charm nearly veered into the ditch of sociopathic behavior a few times this winter as the Shack Nasties made their annual bid for control. The Shack Nasties are terrible things, related to Cabin Fever but having nothing to do with the need to get outside. Cabin Fever is easily treated but the Shack Nasties are insidious and, once contracted, their cure consists mostly of endurance. Hundreds of blog posts and internet articles appeared this winter, with headlines like “Ten Quick Hacks to Beat the Winter Blahs” and I could almost relate, but my hacking was from working in the cold air and, on a good day, if I tried real hard, I could almost get myself worked up to “blah.”

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When folks who are used to a lot of snow say, “That’s a lot of snow,” you know it’s a lot of snow.

Ya think?

Ya think?

Continue reading

Categories: Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Fahrenheit 219

Water boils at 212°F, syrup at 219. My job this week was to achieve and maintain a constant 219 degrees in the sap pan, using a wood fire for heat. In searching these pages for photos of fire and me, I came across my post The Cremation of MMX and the photo below. I would like to reassure readers (especially Skye and Tina, whose sugar house I have not burned down) that the man in the foreground had no hair to begin with and was fine.

Quill Gordon Shows How It's Done

The fire in this post was of a completely different nature. Continue reading

Categories: Maple Syrup | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Tapping Out

(A new tab at the top of this page (or this link) will take you to a collection of photos and links following the production of maple syrup this spring from the sugar bush of some friends. Their new enterprise is called Bobo’s Mountain Sugar, and the taps are in on Bobo’s Mountain — all 2500 of them.)

In mixed martial arts, tapping out is an act of submission, the end of a fight, and often the result of a violent twisting of arms. In maple syrup production, tapping out is a declaration of victory, the end of a job that no one’s arm had to be twisted to do.

big old tree

The snow was deep when I started helping on the hill above the sugar house, but I waded and floundered and stomped my way along the lines, tapping trees for a few hours each afternoon, doing what I could. The steepness of the hill, combined with thickets of beech and short balsams, had me convinced I made the right call in leaving my snowshoes at home, even as more flakes fell every day. After struggling in the wake of an additional 14+” from one storm, I finally gave in and strapped them on the next day.

If, as they say, snowshoes make the impossible difficult, it was a very hard afternoon. Without my snowshoes I had sunk to my knees; with them I still sank to my knees and had to high-step to clear the holes I’d made, with the decks weighted down with snow. Lifting a leg, expecting 25 pounds of resistance but getting none because the snow slid off, resulted in a few sharp blows to my chin and twice I kneed myself in the ear when my right foot sank deeper as I lifted my left. Continue reading

Categories: +Uncategorized, Maple Syrup, Rural Life, Vermont, Winter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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