Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Finished with Syrup Season!

I think they want to come inside.  

I don't think I'd like March very much if it did not eventually bring spring.  This past weekend, as we were doing our last sap boils, we had sunshine and 60+ degree weather.  It was glorious.  Everyone loved it.  Today, 32 and snowy outside my window.  By this weekend, it should be back into the 50's with rain.  I am so ready for spring!

It doesn't help that my back deck is loaded with sap buckets, taps, tubing and pans that all need to be sanitized and stored away until next year.  It is a messy job that is best done outside with a hose and some bleach water.  I was able to get about half the buckets done on Monday, but then it got too cold to think about getting wet outside.  Which is inevitable.  

Sunset from the sugar house Saturday night
So we boiled off almost 30 buckets of sap Saturday and Sunday. That is approximately 105 gallons of sap.  Resulting in almost 2 1/2 gallons of darker maple syrup.  Due to chemical changes, the syrup gets darker and stronger in flavor later in the season.  Personally, I prefer the darker syrup to the light amber syrups of early season, but the light amber seems to be what most producers are looking for. This year I started a syrup journal as opposed to just writing numbers in on our wall calendar.  I kept track of morning temperature and high temperature each day, along with # of gallons of sap collected, # of gallons of sap boiled and total time along with the amount of finished syrup.  We set 28 taps on February 9th and did 12 boils starting Feb. 11 and ending March10.  Our total production was 41.25 quarts or just over 10 gallons.  I won't bore you with temperatures and how much sap was actually collected, but since it is about 40 gallons of sap to 1 gallon finished syrup, it would be about 400 gallons we hauled from the sugarbush to the evaporator.  My goal was to have 6 gallons to sell. I think I have made my goal!  Next year, we hope to have a new sugarhouse and bigger evaporator pan that will handle more sap in less time.  Then we can put out even more taps!

While it was nice on Sunday, I had Sam check on the bees.  I was surprised when he told me there were bees coming and going from BOTH hives, even the dead top bar hive.  But this made me think that maybe  that hive had been dead longer than I thought and that it could be that hive #2 had robbed the top bar hive and caused the hive to die out.  Bees will go into other hives and steal their honey and take it back to their own hive if they can.  So it is a good thing we are planning to relocate the top bar hive before installing a new colony in it.  More on that next month.
Having wonderful warm weather over the weekend allowed me to finally finish up the shawl I have been working on off and on since October.  I knitted it out of my hand/dyed/blended/spun alpaca/bamboo laceweight yarn I spent a lot of time creating last winter.  It blocked out to almost 4' square and used a little less than 5 oz of yarn.  I wish the color was better represented in the photo, but I had to stand far away to get the whole shawl in.  It is beautiful.  I am very pleased with it.  This is a free pattern on Ravlery, the Spanish Armada shawl

So then, I started on my next knitting project, which is a hat to donate to our Humane Society fundraiser later this month.  It has a dog theme and I am using a wool yarn that I had leftover from last year's fundraiser knitting.  I  love when that works out!  This pattern is in a book called Shear Spirit that I got from the library and it is called the Wolf Pack Hat


I was unable to find time this week to dye more yarn, but here is my second batch that I dyed a week ago Monday and had not yet photographed at last week's posting.  Tomorrow I have nothing on the schedule except my spinning guild meeting in the evening, so I hope to dye up another batch.  I already have my colorway planned.

I do have rugs in progress on my loom here at the office and I really should get busy on those.  Here is the first of 3.  It is about 75% done.

So that's about it for this week.  I often wonder where my time goes.  

I will end with this link:

I think it's funny :)


1 comment:

  1. Cathy, you should put that shawl in the art show. It is so pretty. Also really like the yarn you have dyed. Rugs are great too. Love mine.