…..bring May flowers, as the saying goes. It happens to be true, but it’s also a nice phrase to cheer us up during these wet and chilly spring days. Up in Huntington we have late season snowfalls and the ground is slow to appear. Although I yearn for the early signs of spring, our northern elevation also means our sugaring season can last later into April. If the weather warms up too quickly, the sugaring season ends abruptly. If the cold weather continues, the sugaring season can stretch out and we are able to use some nice late season sap. The late season sap produces the very darkest grade of syrup. Very dark maple syrup, with a strong flavor, is difficult to come by these days as the weather (and warmer spring) dictates how long the season will last. We are thrilled that Matt just kept boiling and was able to produce many gallons of the coveted very dark maple syrup! With a season stretching from March 9, to April 18, Matt produced 500 gallons of amber rich, dark robust and very dark maple syrup. Read on for ways to use maple syrup in your cooking, and for news around the farm.
We are so excited to have a wonderful crop of 2020 syrup! Right now we have nice selection of all three grades. Contact us directly for Very Dark Maple Syrup!
While sugaring has been successful and fun, we have also been distracted and deeply concerned by the news and restrictions involving Covid-19. Matt has not been able to return to construction work and my school district has closed for the remainder of the school year. I have been working on distance learning and have incorporated new vocabulary into my lexicon: google hangouts, zoom, google classroom etc…We’re live streaming lessons, preparing paper packets and distributing chrome books. Even when kids have access to these platforms there are barriers, so I have also been corresponding with kids via the mail. Remember having a penpal?
While I’m missing my students and my daily routines, I’m making new routines and finding bright spots during this stay at home order. I’m never able to help out out much during sugaring but this spring I’ve been able to do a lot. While Matt was boiling every day, I was the regular wood hauler. I also learned how to walk the lines and look for leaks and found so much pleasure in this task. The initial weeks of quarantine life were so unsettling and I always felt immensely fortunate to be able to escape to the woods.
All small business owners are working hard to adapt to a new way of connecting with customers. I’ve been offering free local delivery and have really enjoyed seeing friends from a distance. I always wear my mask and gloves, and customers leave a check on the door or we connect via PayPal or Venmo. I’ve also repurposed our Christmas tree kiosk as a maple sugar depot. The kiosk sits in a field below the sugarhouse with a separate parking area. Friends and neighbors can park and retrieve maple syrup and other items without encountering other people. Many of my friends and colleagues in Burlington have enjoyed a field trip out to Huntington. We’ve even begun to offer a trail map so that customers can incorporate a stroll through the sugarbush into their maple syrup pickup.
School, sugaring and running the business have kept me busy, but finding myself at home for several weeks without a dog felt unnatural. We’ve always had dogs until last August when we lost our wonderful Sandy. School was starting and we knew it was not the time to search for our next companion. Along came March, a pandemic, a school closure and suddenly the time was right. I found our little dog Archie on Petfinder. He was rescued from a high kill shelter in Texas and brought to Vermont by a local organization. He’s a tiny, scruffy, adorable guy, who seems to have never lived in a house but is taking to it very quickly. We love him to bits and are thrilled to have a new sugar dog!
With the advent of time at home, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking. Read on for recipes that use this delicious healthy sugar! Click on the photos of the breads to find the recipe on our website.
Extra Nutty Stir Crazy Maple Granola
This granola recipe come to me from Hawaii, created by my sister Juniper Richardson. Juniper is also quarantining at home, teaching her students from a distance and running the show for her two children. With creativity and humor, she makes the days fun, educational and still finds ways to incorporate maple! Bravo Juni!
To Make 5 Cups Granola
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup honey (add later)
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
1 cup roasted salted almonds
1/4 cup ground flax seeds
optional: frozen blueberries (1/2 cup)
Bake in a large greased baking dish on 375 for 30 minutes, drizzle on honey and stir, return to oven for 20-30 minutes more at 225. Remove from heat and then let cool and return to a big bowl and stir again to break up any solid chunks before storing in mason jars. Makes 3 mason jars full (with some to spare for snacking!)
As always, thank you for your support, encouragement, humor and interest in the maple sugar world. We are infinitely grateful to all of you who show up in our lives in different ways. As the weather warms up and tiny hints of spring appear in the woods, I feel optimistic about the future. Early spring plants can’t help with the pandemic, but they can do a lot to lift one’s mood. While we can’t join you for sugarbush walks right now, we would love for anyone who needs a quiet, solitary stroll to get in touch. We’ll leave a map in the kiosk!
XO Chaska and Matt