We did boil on Friday, and made about 100 gallons of Amber Rich. Really just a drop in the bucket, but it was nice to make anything at this point. Sap was from the past few weeks of drips and trickles. We do still have about 3000 gallons of sap frozen in a tank, and we also lost 2000 gallons of sap due to a real unfortunate and unforeseeable mishap. Again, nothing but a drop in the bucket, but when sap has been so hard to come by it really really hurt. Any sap lost is money you will never be able to get back no matter how hard you work. There is always something that happens every season to cost you sap and money. I believe that the more successful sugarmakers are the ones who minimize mistakes, prevent and are prepared for most problems, and are anal about finding leaks and maintaining equipment.
With that in mind, I picked up my brand new flue pan today. Last year I had some welds crack and the pan was leaking. Luckily the sap was not running very well that day and I loaded it up and drove it to Montreal to be repaired. In that case it cost us no sap, but had it happened on a big run, or happened on a weekend it would be a really bad day. The flue pan was about the only thing I did not have a backup for until today. I hope we can keep it in the crate for years, but should something go wrong I will be prepared.
I cannot wait for the warm up we have coming friday. I am not the most patient person. The month of March has been one of the most irritating 4 weeks I can remember. At this point, we need the weather to really be on our side, so we can sugar deep in to April. I still have about three feet of snow in the woods, so I think it will be a week or more of sugaring until it melts away from the trees and we really get a hard run. The ground is not frozen under all that snow, so that is a good thing. I am hoping that the snow helps us out if we get a warm dry stretch at some point by keeping air temps cooler and providing moisture for the trees.
Ideally I am hoping for a freeze only every 3 or 4 days. If it freezes every night that is just too much time when the trees are not running. We are also now looking for below average April temps, which is ironic since we need it to warm up. The average high in Burlington for the beginning of April is 47 and at the end of April its 64 or so. Lets hope the weather decides to cooperate with us for a month. It certainly hasn't the last few.