Sap started trickling Thursday afternoon and continued through Sunday. Up high on Amber Ridge we struggled to get temps up enough to really get the sap going. Friday afternoon's rain and snow got things running alright for a few hours, and we had a bit a bonus on Sunday when the sun allowed it to warm up to around 40 even though it was only forecast to barely break freezing. It was our most productive day but nothing even close to what we expect later in the season.
We ended up with 20,000+ gallons of sap for the whole four days, which is half of what we may get in a single day on a good run.
This particular run had everything to do with elevation. Our lowest trees ran the best and some up at the top did not appear to run at all the first few days. Talking with other sugar makers I know down in the valley's ran much better than we did, while those up at even higher elevations ran worse or almost not at all.
In the woods there were three or four of us systematically checking for vacuum leaks and we were fortunate to get 25-26" at the end of each of our three vacuum systems which are up to 2 miles from the vacuum pump. I have a huge list of things to repair now that we are frozen back up, mainly bear chews, and some leaking valves and fittings. I did have to remove a new booster from the woods yesterday and return it to the supplier as it was drilled incorrectly and leaked very badly. Overall, we could not have been happier with the progress we made in the woods. I was hoping the warm temps would knock the snow down but that didn't happen much and it is still real tough walking.
On the processing side of things we sweetened up the pans and made a bit over 5 barrels to boot. Quality was decent, and the grade was Amber Rich, Medium Amber for all of us still used to the old grading system. Everything came off without a hitch minus a blown seal on our second pressure pump on the R/O which forced us to run in parallel instead of series, meaning we had to double pass the sap to get up to 18%. I am on my way to Canada in the morning to get the pump repaired and am bringing 2 others to have the new seals put in to avoid any future issues. Still waiting to test the new 15" filter press until we have a longer, bigger boil.
Looking at the long term forecast we don't really have any sugaring weather predicted for the next two weeks which is a bummer. We may use the time to run two or three new mainlines and add around 200-300 taps if I can convince dad to get after it again.