Near mid February here in Northeastern Indiana, our day time temperatures creep into the 40’s melting off the long winter’s blanket of snow, and our night time temperatures dive back below freezing. Each year when my husband notices the signs indicating this change is about to take place, he takes to our woods and begins setting up his maple sugar camp.
A couple of weeks ago he began cleaning buckets, assembling equipment, and organizing his camp in the woods. Last weekend weather conditions indicated that the first major sap run of the season was imminent, and he placed more than 150 taps in the maple trees. A couple of days later the day time temperatures soared into the 40’s and 50’s and the sap began to run. By Thursday it was time to start cooking the sap down into maple syrup. Once cooking starts, Bart lives in the woods. I’m not kidding you. He sets up a cot and sleeps in the woods on nights when he needs to keep the fire burning under his cooker. He also cooks quite a few of his meals over the fire. In the shot below, sausage gravy and toast is on the menu.
Being a two business family, the 3 to 4 week sugaring season can be a little rough for us. Bart is careful not to schedule construction jobs during this time, and I try to hold things down at home and in the shop. I try to make trips back to the woods on the weekends, but by the end of the whole thing I’m usually feeling a little testy. However, the reward of a year’s supply of sweet, natural maple syrup is well worth the hassle.
Bart sells some of his surplus syrup to help offset the cost of bottles, filters, and some miscellaneous supplies. Due to numerous requests from non-local friends who wanted to purchase syrup, we set up a website last year at Bart’s Maple Syrup. Syrup should be available for sale within the next couple of weeks or so. The syrup will be available on a first come, first served basis. When it’s gone, there won’t be any more until the next sugaring season.