Farm News March 2015
Skiing and Snowshoeing
At The Farm!
This winter was our first year opening the farm's trails to the public for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. We have over 5 kilometers of trails that are groomed for both skate skiing and classic. The trails take advantage of our existing network of tractor roads that we use to access the maple sugarbush.
For more information you can visit our XC Ski Trail website.
A young skier enjoys the fast spring skiing conditions.
The farm's ski trails go through the same woods that are used for maple syrup production. The access roads through the sugarbush make great trails for snowshoeing and skiing in the winter months.
VTWF owner Tim Hescock and daughter Paige, enjoy skiing across an open field.
This snow machine and groomer are new additions to the farm. Pulling the groomer over the trails both packs the snow and leaves a nice "corduroy" surface to ski on. A set of tracks can also be set on one side of the trail with the groomer.
2015 Maple Season Update
by Tim Hescock, VTWF Sugarmaker
March 24, 2015
"If the trees go into winter with wet feet, there will be a good sap-season."
Growing up in Vermont with maple sugaring all around, certain maple proverbs often "pop" into our heads. I don't know where they come from or how we learn them, but out of our mouths they come.
This year in particular, the maple trees did go into winter with "wet feet". During late fall and early winter it seemed the farm's lowlands were teeming with water from all the rain and snow melt.
Maple sap is almost 100% water, so there is a lot of truth in this proverb. Research has shown that not only does the sap come up from the roots, but that it will continue to absorb water from the ground during the maple season. As the snow pack melts this also adds to the amount of groundwater available to the trees. If other conditions are right, we could have a great season!
The first maple syrup of the year! As typical with the early runs of maple sap, the production so far has been Golden Delicate grade. This grade of maple syrup has a very light color and delicate maple flavor.
Has the maple sugaring season started yet?
Yes! Our first boil was March 15th and we've had a few good days since then. Just like last year, the season has been hampered by an extremely cold winter. Not only did our season start 2-3 weeks later then normal, but in the last 10 days it has only been warm enough to boil the maple sap on 3 days.
Sap buckets await. Each bucket will be hung on a maple tree's spout to collect the maple sap. About 100 buckets are hung each year. The other 2400 taps at the farm are collected with the modern method of plastic tubing.
A Down Side To All The Snow and Cold
We are starting to sound like a broken record. Like many parts of the country, here in Vermont this winter was one of the coldest on record. This delayed the tapping process (the maple trees should be tapped when temperatures are above 20 degrees F. to avoid damaging the trees).
Just like last year, we are getting a very late start to the season, which means we may have an abbreviated season. Temperatures need to drop below freezing at night and then unthaw during the day, for there to be sap flowing. Typically, this daily pattern lasts for about 4-5 weeks. If really warm temperatures come in April as they often do, we would see a maple season that is a couple weeks shorten than normal.
So far we've produced about 160 gallons of maple syrup, most of which has been the Golden Delicate grade. This represents about 15% of our annual crop.
Maple Open House Weekend
This weekend is our Maple Open House here at the farm in Shoreham, Vermont.
View the event flyer for more information.