Boil and Bubble

Due to my small time operation, I have to do what other maple sugarers can afford not to do… I have to boil every day. Every evening around 5pm I fire up the burners and boil away until around 100, making trips out to the shack no less than every half hour to cycle the warmed sap from the preheating pans into the pots and refill them. By my best calculations made for absolutely no record keeping, I can boil off roughly 3 gallons of water per hour when both burners are running and once everything is up to speed. So, I can purge about 15 gallons of water per evening. Today, I gathered in 25 gallons of sap. Do the math. I’m drowning in sap I can’t boil.

My closest neighboring sugarer, Jim, can afford to boil only on the weekends. He can do this because he has a storage capacity in the hundreds of gallons. He can collect sap all week long and still want for more. Me… I have a single dedicated 32 gallon Sterilite trash can, and this evening, I filled it to the lip. He also has the ability to turn that sap in the syrup so fast it’s like sheer force of will. On his first day boiling he turned out more syrup that I’m going to produce all season. So right now I’m at the upper limit of my ability to store harvested sap and I’m afraid that I won’t be able to boil it down fast enough to make room for the next 3 days worth of output. Add to that the fact that we have plans to visit my parents on Saturday and I have geocaching plans for Sunday, hence, no boiling.

To help postpone this backup I currently have half of the windows and doors in the house wide open and I’m boiling sap on the kitchen stove. I give it an hour before this place starts to feel like a Russian bath house. And since I know what you’re thinking: no, my wife won’t be home until well after 9. She doesn’t need to know why the plaster on the kitchen ceiling is blistering out like a pipe burst behind it.

I just hate to waste damn near anything. If I run out of room to store harvested sap, that’s like wasted potential syrup. (And wasted potential bonus income! I’m trying to upgrade my Garmin, here!) The weather may work in my favor, though. Looking at the 10 day forecast, it doesn’t look like the nights are going to get cold enough for top notch sap production.I haven’t been doing this long enough to make accurate weather/production predictions, but I’ll go ahead and make inaccurate ones. If the trees won’t put out there’s not much I can do about that, now is there? I’m cool with that. Maybe for tonight I’ll just concentrate on turning what’s already boiling into finished syrup, and bottle it. I’ve got peeps at work who’ve been asking for it, after all.

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