Maple Sugaring at Holiday Farm

19 02 2007

Sugarhouse2Our Education Progam here at Holiday Farm is starting up with the up-coming sugaring season.

            After the last glory of the fall foliage season the maple trees at Holiday Farm retire to sleep for the winter and that’s when our sugar-makers start to plan for the next sugaring season. As winter grips the Berkshire landscape
Holiday Farm’s activities turn to the woods. The snow and frost has become the woodsman’s ally as he harvests timber, cuts firewood, and thins the sugar bush. The taps and tubing, buckets and tanks that were cleaned and stored away for the summer become the focus of renewed attention. As the we round the first of the year, the days are once again getting longer and even though the cold is getting stronger it’s time to hang the tubing.
            Around the end of February the days are beginning to warm up and the sun is melting the snow around the base of the trees. It’s time to tap. Often wearing snow shoes, we drill a small hole about 2 1/2 inches into the tree and tap in a spout. On a warm afternoon the sap could begin to drip or ‘run’ into the tubing immediately. The drips follow the tap lines to form trickles. Those trickles run all together into the larger main lines where, on a good day, the sap running into the gathering tanks looks like water flowing out of a garden hose.            The Holiday Farm maple trees surrounding the fields and shading the river are hung with old-fashioned metal buckets and are collected with the help of visitors. The sap from both buckets and tap lines is brought to our post & beam sugar house to be boiled into maple syrup. 

Our 4 X 12 foot evaporator boils 150 gallons of sap into about 4 gallons of maple syrup per hour by burning slab-wood, the one-faced boards discarded from the sawing of logs into lumber.A sweet-smelling cloud of steam billowing from the cupola on top of our sugar house is a sure sign that we are boiling, and visitors are welcome to join in the fun. There is nothing like the smell of a sugar house filled with steam and no other harbinger of spring as much enjoyed as the making of maple syrup. 

Visitors are welcome to
Holiday Farm. Individuals and families are welcome on a drop-in basis to partake in any aspect of the sugaring process that is currently happening. We charge a nominal fee for field trips, community groups, etc (usually on a per child basis w/ chaperones free). For these group experiences, we offer an overview of the process, a tractor driven hayride to collect sap and a hands-on demonstration. Remember that sugaring is weather dependent and also to dress appropriately for the weather.

 If you would like to schedule a group maple sugaring experience for a classroom, please call the office at 413-684-0444 and speak to Desirée.  


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