I just found this quote. I wish I knew who said it first. It’s a keeper
We’re just about through with the boiling. We put up 2 gallon of syrup for personal use. The rest is going in pint jars. We’ll be giving some to the neighbors who let us tap their trees and my kids will each get a jar. It took 120 gallons of sap, hand gathered, to get this syrup. The whole process brought up an interesting discussion for Bruce and me.
Small works for us. I sometimes get calls from wanna-be-someday farmers who want to come by and see how we do things. I always tell them they will be mighty disappointed. Farm doesn’t define us. We are more gardeners with a lot of hobbies. We do a lot but none of it in volume. Most of what we make or raise is just enough for personal consumption or a bit of barter for what we don’t grow. A friend just dropped off some parsnips last night. I’ll be giving her some potatoes in exchange. I swapped some tomato sauce for a hand-made tote.
Small is good. I spent most of yesterday in the summer kitchen. There was a round of work. I would empty one of the sap buckets into the holding tank, transfer sap from the pre-heater to the evaporator and from the holding tank to the pre-heater then return the bucket to the tree. Run in the house and toss some clothes in the washer and empty the dishwasher, scoot back out to the yard and grab another bucket. As the sap thickened I brought it inside to finish and started a new pan of preheated syrup. Jars had to be washed, meals prepared and there is always something to tidy up. In between I started onion and leak seeds and also got the greens started that will fill the green house in a few weeks. Bruce got home and took over outside while I helped Phoebe with a school project and put away laundry. He did supper dishes while I ran over to a select board meeting. I got home and finished more syrup while he boiled outside. It was an exhausting process. Full sap buckets are very heavy, especially when you’re slogging through slush. The rewards would not be worth it if you were counting the value of our labor. For under $100.00 I could have bought this much fine syrup. The point however is not about making or even saving money. The point is to know how to do it ourselves and to make good use of our land and resources. Time I have. Money-not so much. If I was trying to do this on a commercial level, I would hate it. The work is sticky and messy. The big guys boil and collect round the clock. They tap heavily. We only put one tap on each tree. We quit when we get tired. There are a couple of hard days but few enough that we aren’t sick of it at the end.
I could anticipate a time when a neighborhood could get together and put up a small sugar shack. They could tap neighborhood trees, work together and share the bounty. It would work like our communal cider press. Shared labor, shared cost and shared fun. Small works.
Looks like we dodged a bullet on the latest solar storm. Storms don’t peak for another year and I’m guessing that people will get sick of hearing about them but I think the natural world bears watching. We worry so much about things like economics and politics, war and rumors of wars but it pays to remember what Guy McPhearson says. Nature bats last.