Syrup III

Warning – this post contains multiple pictures of Oscar being insanely cute.

We had company again on Saturday for our third maple syrup boil of the season.  After filling my two 50 gallon sap storage tanks on Thursday, I had no choice but to simply leave the rest of the sap in the buckets until Saturday, as I lacked other options for storing it.  I wondered if I could use my hot tub as both a storage and evaporation device, but decided against it without a whole lot of thought.  Additionally, the way we’re doing our syrup as a batch job, 100 gallons is pretty much the most we can easily boil – as that starting amount of sap will reduce to an amount of near-syrup that we can fit in our lobster pot to finish on the stove.  If we boil more than that, we’ll still have to sub-batch it, otherwise we’ll end up with too much finished product, and not be able to fit it in our finishing pot.

We are already considering possible Evaporator Version 3.0 improvements for 2012, including a permanent structure made out of mortared stone (not cinder blocks).  If any of my readers have expertise in this area and have any idea how much it would cost to build something like that (see the pics of the setup in my previous post), please let me know.  I feel like we could conjure up some sort of brick structure on our own, but Mrs. Dynamite thinks brick will look out of place.  There’s no way I could do stone myself (to clarify – it would be insanely difficult for me to do brick by myself, but I think it could be done with help), and I’m not keen on spending multiple thousands of dollars to have a mason build me one out of stone.  Maple sugaring is already an expensive hobby.  This weekend we added two more casualties:  I scorched my jacket sleeve, and Mrs. Dynamite melted her snow pants from standing too close to the door by the fire.  Fortunately, there were no physical injuries.

Mrs. Dynamite put it best when she said “Maple syrup is interesting because when you buy it in the store you think it’s way too expensive, but when you make it yourself, you think it’s way too cheap.”

We had 18 degree nights on both Thursday and Friday, so we couldn’t even empty the sap buckets on Saturday morning – they were frozen solid and didn’t thaw until the afternoon.  At that point, we had another 37 gallons, and made the tough decision to only boil 1/2 of the total on Saturday.  This meant that we wouldn’t have to be standing outside in 20 degree temps at the evaporator until 10pm, but it also meant that we’d have to clean the pans after Saturday’s boil, and go through the lengthy process of building up a roaring fire again on Sunday.  I ended up chainsawing and chopping up about 8 small dead trees – 7 pine and 1 birch.  The pine just evaporates in the flame – I’d cut down a tree, saw it into log length pieces, split the bigger pieces with an axe, and then 2 hours later the tree would be gone – consumed so fast by our fire.  Rinse, repeat.  My whole body hurts today.

hot fire

Splitting the boil turned out to be a good decision, as it made Saturday’s boil (2 gallons) shorter, and Mrs. Dynamite and I fended for ourselves on Sunday, getting another 1 1/2 gallons.  This weekend alone we exceeded our entire production from 2010. Even better, I got a handful of tremendous pictures of my dogs.  Again, these are not posed pictures:  Oscar just hopped up in the camping chair and chilled out, stayed on alert, or gave me the evil eye.

napping in the chair:

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Keeping watch:

Oscar the Awesome

Stink eye:

trying to hide under the armrest

exhausted:

cutest dog ever

Mr. Griffey, yawning, singing, howling, something:

Griffey singing opera

We’ll be back at it again this weekend when my in-laws come to visit again.  There’s sure to be ample deforestation of the dead trees around my property, as my father-in-law is an expert with the chainsaw, and my brother-in-law’s brawn will be put to work.  Not to mention that it’s a necessity as we have already used all of our cut wood.

-KD

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