We've had a few warm days - like 58 degree days!! - and so most of our snow has melted off. It's brought my least favorite time of the year... post snow dog poop clean up. Yikes! If you have a dog and live where snow lingers in the winter, you know what I'm talking about. Some of us, however, have become really excited about what the melt off brings!
Yesterday, I looked out the window and saw Maple going bananas in the backyard over something. Turns out, her beloved rock had become uncovered and it was clearly a joyful reunion with a long lost love.
You may think it odd for me to say that Maple has a beloved rock, but I don't think there is a more appropriate word to be had. Maple found this rock on a walk last summer and doggedly (hee hee) carried it a half mile home. She has been obsessed with it ever since. There are other rocks in the world, but, in Maple's mind, they are clearly subordinate to this rock!!
Here she is last September picking out just. the. right. rock. Took her a while, but once she decided, she could not be swayed. I'm not sure what her criteria was, but it certainly had nothing to do with how easy it was to get up out of the creek!
Awww, look how little she was back then!! This was also the beginning of her giving things "CPR." We joke all the time now, "Look at Maple giving that _______ CPR!" And that little yip? That's her "I'm so excited I just can't hide it" yip.
She was definitely making that yip yesterday when she was reunited with her favorite rock. What a funny girl I have!
The first batch of maple syrup for the year is in the bag, which is good because I was plumb out. It's hard to sell a breakfast box without any maple syrup in it! Our winter has been very mild so far which has allowed this brief bit of production, but I'm hearing rumor of a polar vortex shift that may be changing that very soon. As a result, I've decided not to go all out with putting taps in and am just taking what little I can get in this early run to help me make it through to the main season.
Because COVID has royally messed up everything, supply chains are getting tricky for all kinds of stuff. Maple syrup bottles are one of those things! I knew this was going to be the case but procrastinated calling the maple supply house until this weekend and they only had eleven cases of bottles left, which was about half of what I wanted to purchase. The rest were backordered and would supposedly not be available for another month. I figured eleven was better than nothing, and they said they'd hold them for me. So, my boy and I went on a road trip today to pick them up.
Now, I know I'm a small producer. Really small. I put in less than one hundred taps a year. I know there are big producers out there. I know that they use plastic tubing and vacuum systems to collect those thousands of gallons of sap they process. I just hadn't ever actually seen it before. The woods up there were like spider webs! No, more like those heist movies where there are laser beams protecting the valuable whatever thing. The woods were crawling with tubing! I'd never seen the like of it before!
They even had tubing going over the road so that the sap from the trees on the far side of the road could go into the tank too. And the tank! Look at the size of that thing! Well, needless to say, it made me feel like a pretty small fish... but it also made the woods look weird and not very natural.
I'm happy with the way I'm doing it, and I also believe I can make better syrup than they can. There is a reason I stick with producing small batch, gently boiled syrup. I think it just tastes better. Way better!
The first batch was pretty small, so, for now, I am only offering our syrup as part of our breakfast boxes. I'm using a new fuel set up and I accidentally cooked the first batch a bit harder than usual and it ended up missing the golden cut off by a few points, but it sure does taste good! I can't wait for more sap to start flowing!
And the lucky part I mentioned?
We got there and were about to check out and a delivery arrived with those back ordered bottles! I ended up getting all twenty cases that I'd hoped for. Now I just need to have the right weather to fill them. Stay tuned!