More rain today and cloudy cool weather - high of 46. Hopefully the sap will run again when the cold temps return Friday and are expected to last up to 10 days. For now we are in a holding pattern until the weekend. The grass is turning green and the frogs started croaking in the Twin Cities last weekend. Maybe their country cousins will not wake up yet and the sap will continue to flow.
Today was Easter Sunday - about as early as it can get. Since there was no hard freeze last nite and it rained int he AM not much sap ran so we emptied up the tanks and picked up about 375 gallons from the sap bags. After this run we are now at about 45,000 gallons of sap and 1200 gallons of syrup. Picking up the sap was Bruce, Jim, Dave, Kevin, Brent and Quinn. The woods remains extremely muddy and we are looking forward to the polar vortex to arrive later this week.
It’s been 4 weeks since we tapped and the sap continues to run. Is it because we are using the new clear spiles or are the conditions in place that any type of spile could be used. We have now collected more sap than last year - about 43,000 gallons / 1139 gallons of maple syrup. There will be a warm stretch for the next few days before the polar vortex returns. If this happens and our tap holes remain fresh we should be getting close to our all time highs for sap and maple syrup. The sap remains crystal clear since it’s been too cool for the trees to bud out. The woods have plenty of moisture from the 7 inches of snow that fell this week. This is one of the wettest springs that we can remember. Usually a muddy trail in the woods means a good sap year. The conditions are in place for continued sap running. Even though it doesn’t freeze the trees continue to run - at a slower pace though.
The Trail Camera was setup today to monitor the level of the sap in the Harmon tanks. You can download an APP and control the camera to take a picture on demand via your smartphone. Mike found the camera and set it up with the help of Kevin and Brent. We no longer need to drive 15 miles to check the tanks. It takes infrared pictures at night if needed.
Kevin, Brent and Dave completed Kevins dream of having a wooden bench installed by the bag dump tanks in the Harmon Woods. While Brent and Dave found and cut a 6′ elm log (about 5 inches in diameter) Kevin dug a hole with a post hole digger. After Brent attached the joist board from the Granary to the elm posts we were able to enjoy eating out lunch - Venison sausage and Coors lite beer.
The NW Breezes came just in time. The sap was flowing really good over the weekend so the fear that the frogs would be croaking in the pond and the tap holes would all be dried up did not happen. We collected about 7,500 gallons of sap and the weather looks good for the sap to keep flowing now over the next 2 weeks. We now have about 30,000 gallons of sap so we are close to having an average year but there is a chance it could be an excellent year despite El Nino. There is still plenty of moisture in the ground and the trees are not budding out yet.
Happy St. Patricks Day. No sap has been collected this week since we are in a transition to winter again. About 2 inches of rain has fallen so there is plenty of moisture for the trees to use to draw up the sugar from their roots. There was also a lot of wind so there was some branches knocked down and a dead tree had fallen over one of our sap pickup trails in the Harmon Woods plus a panel had blown off the corn bin. Jim and Brent had to cut some trees up that had fallen in the Home Woods onto the black line and blocked the trail. There was about 25 gallons of sap in the tank so they scrubbed out the tank and let the sap run onto the ground. The cold front has come so there is hope for an extended maple sap run. the hi today was 42 after a low of 32 overnight and tonite the low should be 27 . Over the next week we are expecting hi’s in the 40’s so the tap holes should stay open for the foreseeable future. Tomorrow we are planning to pickup sap from the bags since Bruce reported that there was about a gallon of sap in each bag. I’m also delivering to Plum City 12 plywood boards and 10 2″ styrofoam sheets to be used for our granary project. We are redoing the granary so we can have an adult clubhouse for use during the sap season and deer hunting. Lexi wants it done by April 30th so she can have her all night prom party there.
In December and February we completed the rework of about 600 taps on the tube lines in the NE Corner of the Harmon Woods. This is part of our ongoing plan to rework all of our lines over the next few years. We are adding in new trees and switching to the new clear disposable 5/16″ health spiles attached to 36 inch drops. In 2014 we reworked the home woods 1000 taps and in 2015 about 500 taps on the south side of the Harmon woods. The longer drops allows us to have a larger area to drill tap holes, the clear spiles eliminate the growth of bacteria in the tap hole to keep sap flowing and the new lines eliminate air leaks and increases the sap flow by creating a natural vacuum system.
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