Today I finally visited a maple syrup farm.
It's been a long time in coming.
I did my teacher training in Montreal, Quebec, and wanted to visit a maple sugar farm way back then. But it just didn't work out. After that I did not live in maple syrup country.
So, 25 years later, I am in the right place (St Jacobs, Ontario) at the right time (early spring), and got to visit a maple sugar farm.
We were taken out to Martin's farm
- the family has worked the farm since the 1860s-
by a horse pulled tram.
|with my mum on the tram|
The local First Nations people were the first to take sap from the sugar maple and boil it down to a syrup. A "v" was notched out of the tree and a wooden spout attached so that the sap could drip into a log bucket.
The bucket could not be put onto a fire to boil down the sap, so hot stones were put into a sap filled bucket.
Settlers from Europe learned how to make syrup from their First Nations neighbours. With access to different tools, they collected the sap with increasingly more efficient spigots and buckets
and boiled the sap down in a series of three kettles.
The bucket hanging from the tree that we (or at least, I) associate with maple sugaring
is a thing of the past.
Modern maple syrup farms use a network of tubing that brings all the sap to the sugar shed. This eliminates the need to empty the buckets - sometimes twice a day - and transport all the sap to be boiled down to syrup.
The tubing takes the sap to the modern version of the three kettles over the fire.
There are three different compartments to this wood fired shiny maple syrup making machine (just like the three kettles).
Lots of wood, lots of heat and lots of steam.
And the final product is maple syrup.
It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of syrup!
I was chatting to the lovely girl who gave us pancakes to enjoy with maple syrup about the changes in maple syrup production. We were wondering what a maple syrup farm will look like in another 50 years.
I couldn't resist googling and seeing what maple syrup "stuff" was out there.
Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association children's activities
a blog by a couple of maple syrup producers
and a fine Youtube clip
loving Spring Break,