Saturday, March 28, 2009

And The Winner Is?...

In my second post called "Steam's Up" I ended by saying that I would be conducting a Giveaway for a quart of our maple syrup.

Today was the drawing day and my 5th grader grandson did the honors of drawing the name. I held the basket and he looked the other way and drew....

Aleta of Hootin' Holler Musings is the winner! Congratulations Aleta!
So some of the maple syrup produced by my son and other family members will be on its way to eastern Tennessee. Aleta, just send me an email with your address, ok? I'm already planning another giveaway for this summer, so stay tuned!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's Purple Day!...

Spring is here, in some areas of the country tulips are in bloom, (although not yet here in the northeast!) and it is "Purple Day."

Cassidy Megan, 9 years old last year in 2008, founded Purple Day to bring increasing awareness about epilepsy. Over 50 million people are affected by the challenge of epilepsy. One them is my friend, Michele of Rocky Mountain Retreat Photography.

To lean more about epilepsy, to better understand what is true and what is myth, visit this excellent epilepsy website. The more we understand the better we can be of assistance if someone near us has a seizure. Living with epilepsy, Michele has to walk to work every day! This young woman is amazing, check out her stunning photography of the mountains of British Columbia and also learn a bit more about epilepsy today,...Purple Day, 2009!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Steam's Up!... (Part 2)

This is a different view of the sugarhouse, you can see the huge tank on the wagon behind the tractor. Sap is transferred from holding tanks in the woods at the end of the pipelines and then pumped into the large covered tank from where it runs into the boiling pans. As I said yesterday, all systems and tanks are cleaned and sterilized prior to use.

This thermometer is attached to final pan of boiling syrup. You can see the needle is right at the exact mark for "syrup." My son waits until it's one degree higher to begin the draw off. The reason is that it will cool in the drawing off process and usually end up one degree below the syrup mark, making the average temperature right on the correct reading.

The syrup is drawn off by a faucet at the bottom of the final pan. Usually two large stainless steel pails full for one "run" of syrup. The pails of syrup are then lifted and poured through a filter.

A spigot with a lever is at the bottom of the filter chamber and it goes directly into new jugs and is sealed.
That is the story of "Pure" Adirondack maple syrup. Other areas in the northeast are famous for maple products, especially Vermont. Maine, Massechusetts and New Hampshire also produce syrup as well as New York. Canada produces much of what you find in your grocery stores. There is little difference, just the polical boundaries of the states and provinces! Some "old timers" say they can taste the difference from maples that are on either north or south facing slopes. All of that is too little a difference for me to worry about!

Pancakes and sausage any one? They are hot off the griddle and the syrup is ready!

I will be holding a drawing on Saturday, March 28th, of all the names that have commented on the two "Steam's Up!" posts and the winner will receive .... A quart of Pure Adirondack Maple Syrup!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Steam's Up!...

Springtime in the northeast brings maple sugaring time. Here in the Adirondacks there are several maple sugar "works"... Stands of maple trees which are tapped for the sap. Sap is either collected in buckets on the side of the trees or runs directly through vinyl pipeline from tree to tree, ending up in a holding tank. All parts of the system are sanitized prior to production. The sap is then boiled down to make maple syrup. This is our family's sugarhouse. It has been in use for many generations.

You can see that that our family has held to the traditional ways, no fancy building here! It is treasured as it is, and I'll show you why.

On the interior wall you see initials of my son's great-grandfather,... dated 1918! There are other notations on the walls that are farther ago than that, but those did not photograph well.

This is looking up from the boiling pans to the opening above where the steam rolls skyward.

My son is adding wood to the fire beneath the boiling pans. Some modern operations have oil-fired boilers, all encased in stainless steel and in well finished rooms. For us, the old way, while perhaps a lot more work, is interesting. We have had school classes visit to watch this traditional process.
The back half of the sugar house is where the wood is piled. By the end of the boiling season most of this will be gone. Used to feed the fire that boiled the sap. In the photo below you see the steam rising from the pans of boiling sap. Strainers rest across the pan's upright walls, waiting to skim any froth from the top of the sap.

The sap enters in one end of the system of connected pans, and as it thickens toward syrup consistency it moves forward to the final pan where it is drawn off. Here my daughter-in-law brings more sap gathered from buckets on the trees. My grandsons watch. The sap is a clear liquid almost like water, but with a sweet taste.

According to studies, it takes four trees at least 40 years old to yield enough sap over six weeks to produce one gallon of maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of syrup. I will have more photos and show how the syrup is tested for correct consistency, then strained into the plastic jugs, and also news of a "give-away!" Tune in tomorrow,...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Wadhams Falls,...

The ice on the waterfall in a nearby community has finally fallen away. This photo was taken Sunday. On the right side of the falls you can see a large chunk of ice that fell forward onto the rock ledges. I know these photos will be of special interest to a fellow blogger who loves waterfalls, Betsy from Tennessee.

This is a natural waterfall. However, many years ago it was enhanced by a dam at the top of the falls to support the local power plant. A large tubing ran from the dam at the top of the falls to the electric generating plant below the bridge that spans the river.

The plant looks deserted now. However it is not! It is still producing electricity and the current owner keeps it in good operating condition. I'll do some research on that for another post.

Enjoy the waterfall Betsy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

What a Hoolie!...

What is a "hoolie" you ask? It is an Irish party. Last evening a friend and I attended a St.Patrick's Day (early!) party. An absolutely wonderful corned beef and cabbage dinner preceeded music and dancing.

Inisheer a well known North Country music group,..."playing traditional music from Cape Breton, Ireland, Scotland, Nova Scotia, New England, and the Appalachian region." (which is a quote from their website home page) performed. Here is Joel Perkins who leads Inisheer surrounded by his talented group. Check their website, there are music samples and downloads available as well as cds to purchase. The music of Inisheer will lift your spirits, I promise that!

Adding to the fun were Irish Dancers. Althought the lighting was poor for good camera shots I tried to capture the exuberance of the young people...

This shot shows my friend Phyllis on the keyboard in the back. She is multi-talented and a performs in another family group (old time and bluegrass) as well as Inisheer.
There was no age limit, here a little girl is encouraged to dance along with the older girls. She did a great job of keeping up!

This adorable little one was fascinated with Joel on fiddle and Erik on drums, she danced right there in front of them, her hands at her side and her feet jigging on the beat...

It is very safe to say that a "good time was had by all!"

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Little Green Forest....

The snow beside my carport is receding with the warmer temperatures. This miniature forest of moss is in its most brilliant green for the upcoming St.Patrick's Day!

It actually looks like a maze of tiny evergreen trees! I wonder if leprechauns are living there?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday at Home,...

Ahhhh..... Sunday afternoon at home, sunny, warm, birds singing, a preview of spring,... some serious deck time,.... a good day!

Monday, March 2, 2009

How to Tell It's Almost Spring...

First the snow starts to melt,... circles open up around the base of the trees...

"Middy" begins to enjoy sitting out on the deck in the sunshine...

The birds start singing their springtime season songs,...

The sun is now going down a lot farther to the right of the mountain. In December it goes down on the left shoulder of the mountain in the foreground!

And my family gathers around to help blow out my one candle on the chocolate cake with maple sugar frosting!
After my birthday I know that spring is right around the corner!