The sweetest hobby

Farmers work hard. They milk the cows at least twice a day, every day. They work to ensure their cows’ comfort. They grow food for the herd. Farmers rise early, finish late and often check the barn throughout the night for any mothers-to-be that need assistance bringing their calves into the world.

Like all farm work, maple sugaring is hard. But it's worth it. #FarmLove Click To Tweet

Incredibly, even the hobbies farmers take up tend to be hard work – like showing cows, helping with the local 4H or FFA group, volunteering on the School Board or on the Volunteer Fire Department. Our favorite late winter and early spring pastime in the Northeast, Maple Sugaring, is no exception.

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

As winter winds down in the Northeast, maple enthusiasts – disproportionally from the farming community – take to the woods to tap trees and day dream of the sweet rewards springtime brings.

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Last year, Reid Richardson from Richardson Family Farm in Hartland, VT, warned of taking up sugaring as a hobby:

“Use extreme caution! This is a very addictive path you’re headed down. Next year you will probably hang twice as many buckets and be thinking about how you can convert your garage to fit a 3 by 6 Evaporator. There will be late nights and “naps” at work followed by a strong desire to leave early and check your sap levels. Then when the season is over, you will spend the rest of the year planning for the next big season.”

Waiting on the Weather
Life on the farm tends to revolve around the weather, and producing maple syrup is no different. Sugaring is completely dependent on the weather – both in terms of timing and production.

The ideal weather provides freezing nights in the mid-twenties and warm days in the forties. If it’s any colder at night, it takes too long to warm up, you don’t get a good sap run. Any hotter during the day and it will slow the run and make the trees think it’s time to put out leaves.

Cooking with Maple
Maple is an incredible – and prolific – ingredient here in the Northeast. It is a healthier alternative to other sweeteners, local and delicious!

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Using maple syrup can be as simple as adding to milk or serving Sugar on Snow. A member of the Webster Family at Emergo Farm, and one of our favorite bloggers, Katie Webster, recently took Maple to a whole other level with her book, Maple:100 Sweet and Savory Recipes Featuring Pure Maple Syrup. 

Looking for some recipes to make with Maple Syrup? Here are two of our favorites: 

Maple Moo Smoothie

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Couture’s Maple Cheesecake

maple cheesecake

Get in on the action!
There are several opportunities throughout the region over the next couple weeks to see the process in action, hear some music, have breakfast or even tour a dairy farm! All visits are unique – and they’ll all be as sweet as can be!

Vermont Maple Weekend — April 2-3

Cabot Farm Families: Couture’s Maple Shop, 10am-4pm

New Hampshire Maple Weekends — March 26-27, April 2-3

Cabot Farm Families: none this year

Maine Maple Sunday– March 27

Cabot Farm Families: Battleridge Syrup – Open both March 26th and 27th from 10am-4pm

New York Maple Weekend — April 2-3

Cabot Farm Families: Chambers Valley Farm 

Massachusetts Maple Weekend — Held on March 19-20, however, one of the two finalists in the Best of Massachusetts Sugar House contest and Cabot farmers, Pomeroy Sugarhouse, will be celebrating their season finale at their Sugar House and restaurant on Saturday, March 26th.

This week, we thank several of our farmer-owners for taking the time to share their favorite part of the Maple process! 

Rachel Pomeroy and her brother Randy Pomeroy, Pomeroy Sugar House

491 Russellville Road, Westfield, Massachusetts

We will be open on March 25th and 26th from 7:30am – 1pm

What is your favorite part of sugaring?

Rachel: I enjoy having the opportunity to talk to people about our way of life. My favorite part of talking to people is seeing their reaction when I start to explain how syrup is collected, boiled and how it takes 35 to 50 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup.

Randy: After hiking through the woods to tap trees and collect sap, my favorite part of making maple syrup is boiling in the sugar house; relaxing with friends and family watching our hard work come together to make the final product.

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Andrew Miller, The Wright Place Farm and Battleridge Syrup

898 Battleridge Road, Clinton, Maine

We’ve participated in Maine Maple Weekend for the last four years and will be boiling with our neighbors again this year, on Saturday, March 27th and Sunday, March 28th from 10am – 4pm.

What is your favorite part of sugaring? 

My favorite part of sugaring is boiling the sap. That’s when all your hard work starts to pay off!

Jacques Couture, Couture’s Maple Shop and B&B 

560 VT Route 100, Westfield, Vermont

We are participating in Vermont Maple Weekend on April 2nd & 3rd

What is your favorite part of sugaring?

What we like best about sugaring is seeing the smiles on our visitors’ faces when they smell sap boiling and then get to sample the freshly made maple syrup!

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Reid Richardson, Richardson Family Farm, Woodstock, Vermont

We don’t participate in the Maple Open House Weekend in the broad sense, more on a hyper-local level, with friends, neighbors, and family.

What is your favorite part of sugaring? 

My favorite part of producing syrup is the time in the sugar house. It’s where all the hard work comes to fruition. There is definitely a social aspect to it, but filling drum after drum with delicious syrup is extremely satisfying. As a child my favorite part was going off and gathering buckets. My Uncle Jim would drive the tractor and there would be a whole bunch of us piled on the sap trailer, including family, friends and extended family Willie Franklin and Leo Maslan. Much of my work ethic was learned on sap gathering missions. It seemed as though we always had to hurry and get the sap so we would come back with a load before they ran out in the sugar house.

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Farmer Friday: Maple Syrup! - Cabot Creamery

Seth Leach, Woodlawn Farm, Pawlet, Vermont

Our season finished early this year, but generally visitors are always welcome. The social aspect is one of the main reasons we love sugaring – and we hope to see you next year!

What is your favorite part of sugaring? 

My favorite part is working in the woods on a warm, sunny spring day after a long miserable winter. It feels therapeutic and good for the soul. Boiling sap becomes a social affair, a great way to spend time with family and friends. The smoke and steam generated in our sugar house act as a beacon in the community and typically there is a steady stream of visitors throughout the season.

Our friends at Village Roots Catering produced one of our favorite videos about sugaring, featuring Seth:

If you would like to learn more about Cabot Creamery Cooperative or some of our other 1,200 farm families, click here.

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