Well the new year is almost upon us and that means sugaring season is only a month or so away. It’s always nerve-racking as the calendar ticks down to tapping. It seems like no matter how many projects are completed and crossed off my pre-season to-do list, two more pop up. The last two months of 2013 have been especially busy since I chose to rebuild the mainline system this year. For those of you who don’t know, gravity sap collection systems have several features. Mainlines are the larger tubes suspended by high-tensil wire which collect sap from all of the lateral sap lines which connect to each tap. I now have mainline in three sizes; ½” on the outskirts of the system (which has about a 40 tap capacity) leading to ¾” (which can handle 400 taps) and now 1” mainline near the bottom of the system which can hold sap from up to 1000 taps. Each section of mainline must be suspended from high-tensil wire which is used in cattle fencing. The mainline is attached to the wire using hundreds of plastic zip-ties. Each wire in turn is attached to a select tree at either end and must have a tension spooler at one end in order to tighten it. I finally completed this major project yesterday and am now at a point where I can begin hanging lateral lines and taps.
Each tap is attached to a short 2’ section of tubing with a barbed plastic T on the end. I prepared 400 of these over two late nights while watching the pilot of Battlestar Gallactica. While many producers use a special tool to connect all of the barbed fittings to tubing, I still use brute force and a pot of boiling water to expand the tubing and make the process go somewhat faster. Now that all the taps and drop lines are assembled, it will make construction of new lateral lines go much faster. A new feature this year is check valve taps that prevent sap from flowing back into the tap hole during freezing cycles. This keeps bacteria from reaching the tap hole and keeps the hole from sliming over, thus increasing yields. This should work with my gravity only system just fine. I should see a large increase in sap yield between the new lines, new taps and redesigned and reconstructed mainlines and hopefully after 7 years I have learned a thing or two which will make this coming season go smoothly.
To make all of these projects possible, I began CSA sales at the beginning of November. As of today, I have sold fifteen shares; more than ever and al before the beginning of the season. I have been working with some friends in New York
City to try to sell an additional ten shares there that will be delivered at the end of April.
If you are interested in a Sapsquatch maple CSA share, I have about 10 more that I would like to sell before the season begins. Each share consists of either a gallon or four quarts of your favorite grade or grades for $80. Please contact me ASAP via email at firstname.lastname@example.org to order or for more info. I will be hosting community work and fun days at the farm on January 4th and 5th and I will be leading hands-on instruction on gravity systems from hanging wire and mainline to lateral lines and tapping. The 2 hour hands-on classes are free with a two hour work contribution. Please RSVP.