Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Whose Stupid Idea Was This, Anyway?

Sap is finally running.  And boy, oh boy, is it running.  Which means I need to retrieve it daily (and probably even twice a day on really good days), emptying the jugs so that they can refill and not just drip sap all over the ground.

Unfortunately, the field is muck at present.  No possibility of getting the tractor through it.  In fact, yesterday I barely got myself through it on foot.  Several times I thought I was going to lose a boot in the mud.

And that was just on the way to get the sap.

one of several wet spots

In the woods the footing varies from still about 3-6" of snow pack, to bare ground with standing water.

still snowy

mostly thawed, with ankle deep puddles
note sap jug on other side of puddle

By the time I had emptied all ten jugs into the two 5-gallon buckets I had carried out with me, I was beginning to question my sanity.  I mean, I have enough syrup in the cellar to get my family through another year.  I don't need to be trudging through mud, and snow, and wading through water to collect more sap in order to make syrup this season.  Especially considering the work it is going to take me to bring that sap, about eighty pounds worth per 10 gallons, back to the house in order to boil it down.  Especially considering that all my work toting 80 pounds of sap, about 1/4 mile, by hand (and foot!) will yield me just 1/4 gallon--1 quart--of syrup.  Especially considering with my turkey fryer set-up for evaporating sap I boil off at a rate of less than 2 gallons an hour.  80 pounds, 1/4 mile, 5+ hours of boiling in order to get a quart of syrup?!?

Whose stupid idea was this, anyway.

Mine.  It was mine.  All so I can have 'fresh' syrup to give as gifts this year, instead of gifting some of my stash of last year's syrup.  Because some people might think last year's syrup is not edible this year (Wrong! Properly stored, syrup stays good for many years) and would therefore not use the gift I gave them.  Again, I repeat, whose stupid idea was this, anyway?

At the point of the arrow, you can barely see a white dot.
The dot is my sap buckets, at the edge of the woods.
I am standing on the edge of the hayfield to take the picture.

Now going to the woods had been difficult enough.  I sincerely doubted I would make it, with both boots intact, through the field toting an additional 80 pounds. Going from the woods suddenly seemed like a monumental hurdle.  I did not want to find myself stranded in the middle of the field, with muddy socks from losing my boots; boots solidly suctioned to the ground, and with spilled buckets.

So I hauled those two full buckets of sap not through the field, which was far enough as the crow flies from woods to house, but the long way.  Also known as the current path of least resistance: head west down the north fence line to the hayfield, where the ground does not sink ankle deep with each step.  Then south across 425 feet of hayfield to the edge of the yard, out past the chicken coop.  Then another 150 feet or so to the garage, where the sap will sit until I boil off in a day or two.

If you ever get syrup from me as a gift, you better appreciate it.  You can't imagine the time, sweat, and physical challenges that went into that little jar of amber sweetness.  Don't ever think one little jar of syrup was a 'cheap' gift.

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