Posts Tagged ‘snowstorm’

Maple Syrup Season 2013

Posted on April 29th, 2013 by Tonia 11 Comments

We came, we went, we made over 30 gallons of maple syrup.

Since my last post, I have swung wildly from “Still like winter! Winter’s OK! Take your time, I’m fine!” to “Oh my god, when will it eeeeeeend. I haven’t seen the sun in 8 long months. I’m going to die.” But turns out all this late-season cold weather and snow that we’ve (I’ve) been whining about made for a pretty great syrup season! It was like the old days, before global warming, when spring was an actual season that lasted a few months instead of just an afternoon melt session in March where winter cedes the win to summer in the time it takes to frantically brew iced-tea and shave your legs.

My maple-syrup-loving self was delighted that spring didn’t vanish before our eyes, but my I-NEED-SOME-DAMN-VITAMIN-D self was just a liiiiiittle crabby about the full-blown snowstorm we got on April 18. Yeah. We’re talking around 20″ of new snow.

So before we talk about our awesome maple syrup season, here’s a taste of what we were dealing with around here last week (I’m looking for a little sympathy here, in case you didn’t pick up on that.)

Ok, that’s quite enough of that. Moving on.

This was the first season in several years where we needed snowshoes for tromping around from bucket to bucket in the woods. The fact that the roots of the trees were insulated by all that snow made the season progress slowly and steadily, instead of the sap gushing out at light-speed and being done within a week. The slow runs made for easier collections because the buckets would only be 1/4 to 1/2 full each time we went out, rather than brimming/over-flowing.

The sugar content was very high and went up as the season progressed, starting out at about 2.5 and ending at 3.5. This allowed for a shorter boiling time and lighter syrup (the longer the sap cooks, the darker the syrup.) We achieved the ideal honey-amber color and smooth, buttery flavor with each batch.

My little brother Danny firing the evaporator and checking sap levels in the pans.

Lunch, enjoyed in the sap house while we worked: Curried butternut squash soup and fresh-caught trout.

Mike pouring finished syrup into the canner.

My mom, Sammi (Danny’s girlfriend), and me canning up a batch.

As a special treat in the middle of a particularly long day of boiling, we made up a whole pile of doughnuts and dunked them in the hot syrup.

You guys…I’m not even going to attempt to explain how out-of-this-world delicious they were. There are no words– just loud, happy, grunting noises and chewing. We will be doing this every year from now on.

As usual, syruping was a lot of work and we all sigh a little sigh of relief when it’s over and normal-life returns. But being together, working out in the fresh air and quiet woods with my family, joking and talking and laughing as we go, is what makes it special and worthwhile. It’s a yearly tradition that has taken place almost every year of my entire life!

Happy 26th season, Maple Moon Sugarbush! Thanks for the liquid gold, and the memories.

Oh, and Mr. Spring? In case you didn’t get the memo…it’s April. You can go ahead and warm up and melt all this snow and start pushing up tulips anytime now. That’d be great.

P.S. Posts from seasons past can be found here.
P.P.S. I promise I will start taking REAL photos again…Instagram is great for documenting little moments here and there, but I think we can all agree that my cell-phone camera compares poorly to the real thing.

The Unpredictability of It All

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Tonia 6 Comments

There we were, innocently/naively enjoying beautiful, warm spring weather for all of March and most of April….and then we woke up this morning to big, icy snowflakes pelting the windows and coating the trees and ground.

I groaned and rolled back over in bed. This wasn’t really happening, was it? Our almost-blooming perennials and fruit trees will surely be toast.

This whole spring has been unusually warm, so I just didn’t see it coming. There was no chance to prepare.

Later, as I stood in line at the bakery for a steaming bowl of ramp and potato soup, I listened to the resigned grumblings of the other customers.

“Can you believe it?”

“The apple trees are not going to like this…”

“I remember in ’78 when we got a blizzard like this in late April…wiped the honeybees right out!”

This is what we get for perching ourselves on the edge of an enormous body of water. Our weather is unpredictable and tends towards the extreme. It’s one of those pesky things in life that we can’t control. We have to adapt and move on.

In addition to the unexpected snow storm, another event this week gave us a harsh and unsolicited lesson on unpredictability and control: One of our pigs dropped over dead. We were horrified when we found her lying there as if she were napping, but not breathing.

We called the farm she came from and they informed us that feeder pigs are known to die suddenly for no apparent reason- probably connected to the fact that they are bred to gain about a pound and a half every day {sounds like a good way to give yourself a heart-attack.} It was a sad event.

This is the gritty, real, not-always-pretty side of farming. There are things you can’t control. There is death.

But, as Aunt Eller says in the classic American musical Oklahoma, “Lots of things happen to folks. Sickness or being poor and hungry, being old and a feared to die. That’s the way it is, cradle to grave, and you can stand it. There’s just one way: you gotta be hardy. You gotta be. You can’t deserve the sweet and tender in life unless’n you’re tough.”

Needless to say, we’re babying the crap outta the remaining pig. I think she gets more attention than our dogs!

And then, amidst the frustration over the snow and the sadness over the dead pig, we got a phone call from the post office saying that a box of live baby chickens was there with our names on it and could we please come pick it up.

A very welcome, happy, fuzzy, cute, chirpy, sweet note on which to start the new week.

Snow Day

Posted on February 29th, 2012 by Tonia 8 Comments

This is the view- or lack thereof- out of my kitchen window right now. Winter finally decided to make an appearance, and- after three and a half months of pitifully warm and snow-less conditions- we’re happy to see it. Us northerners get very nervous when our seasons don’t act normal. We expect full-blown-no-bones-about-it SEASONS around here. Summer is hot, fall is crisp, winter is cold and snowy, and spring is melty and that’s the way we like ’em.

We’re stocked up on TP, I downloaded an audiobook, and the fridge is full of food. Bring it on, blizzard.

**Update: Just got a hilarious text message from our neighbor Sarah saying that Bob realized they were out of beer so he harnessed up their dog and is skijoring to the grocery store. We know how to survive around here. I ran out into the snow in my PJ’s to get a picture…

Snowed In

Posted on December 11th, 2010 by Tonia 4 Comments

What do you do when it snows for three days straight and the forecast calls for 16 more inches before the end of the weekend?

You make pear crisp, of course.  With a side of cinnamon ice cream from the dairy down the road.

And you sit inside and watch your wonderful husband shovel a path for the dog to go potty, and scrape the ice off the car so you can get yourselves to the bar in town tomorrow for the football game.