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.
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.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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