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Maple syrup time in Feversham

Can I just get this off my chest right off the bat? I HATE DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME. There. Something about all caps is kind of sweary and it just makes me feel better.

We stubbornly decided to sleep to our usual time, which meant it was 7:00 a.m. in our world, and 8:00 a.m. for everyone else. So I'm a bit late today.

It's just started to snow at the farmette. We've had a bit of a reprieve from winter for the last week, with really mild temperatures that made most of the snow in the yard melt.

That's why, last Tuesday afternoon, I couldn't resist an invitation to toddle over to my sister's sugarbush to help with the first day of the 2021 sap collection.

Sandy and Brian tap about 80 or so trees in the 50-acre forest they have that spreads out behind their house.

Niece Erin was on hand, as well, and we had SUCH A GOOD TIME - working, sweating, laughing, teasing.

Due to the pandemic, it had been weeks and weeks of FaceTiming rather than actual in-person contact, so I just revelled in having company (other than Rob and the cats, who I do appreciate) for once.

Above is the little sugar shack they have set up as the collection point. It's also where they boil down the sap.

They do it old-school, with metal and plastic buckets hanging from the sides of the trees, with spiles that drip, drip, drip the sap from the trunk. Gotta have the lids to protect from bugs and other detritus that might fall in from above.

Basically, we took Gertie, the aptly named utility vehicle that they acquired last Christmas, and loaded her up with five-gallon plastic Home Hardware buckets. Then, with Erin at the wheel, the two oldsters stomped through the snow, emptying the smaller buckets into the bigger ones. A certain older sister (moi) went in right up to her thighs a couple of times. Lovely.

It was a beautiful, sunny day. The melting snow made the collecting a bit tricky, and a leak in the plastic tank held things up for a bit. But Brian - the cavalry with a wrench - came out and saved the day.

All three dogs came with us and Marley was her usual photogenic and helpful self. Sandy - who's also photogenic - looks good even after an afternoon of hard slogging.

We collected about 200 litres (we think), which would only produce about five litres of syrup, given the ratio is about 40 to one.

All in all, we worked hard, had a lot of laughs and basically just enjoyed the day doing a quintessentially Canadian activity. Which was, as I say, such a relief for me, anyway.

My poor old back and shoulders complained bitterly the next day, but the aches were worth it.

Since Friday, it got colder again and this weekend the sap stopped running.

Sandy says she'll give me a head's up if production starts up again next week. I guess I'd better get my writing work done so I can get back into the woods!

I'm so grateful to be able to be able to have these wee adventures when we're still emerging from COVID-19. Hope everyone's safe and warm. Until next week.


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