Sunday, March 10, 2013

Visiting a Maple Sugar Shack

We had a field trip o a Sunday!  We went to tour a local sugar shack; something I've been wanting to do for a while now.  Even though I live in New England and have for my whole entire life I have never been to a sugar shack either.

We were all very excited to learn how maple syrup is made at our local sugar shack!  

We called ahead to make sure they would be making maple syrup today-- it's really not worth visiting  a sugar shack if they aren't making syrup that day so it's best to call ahead.  

It was well into the afternoon before we were all ready to get out of the house.  The whole family slept in a little due to the time change and then we spent the morning all pitching in to clean the house.  We vacuumed, dusted, washed, & organized every room in our house.  Sure the boys whined and moaned, but I was impressed by how well they are able to clean on their own without someone following behind them pointing out what they missed or how to use the mop, dust rag, etc, more effectively.

 Evan tried his hand at using our Libman Freedom Mop  & did an awesome job on my floors.  I love this mop! I love that it's lightweight and easy to use, doesn't require me to buy special cleaning solutions or disposable rags-- if you've never tried it you really should!

Alec cleaned all the bathrooms and Ian helped sweep and dust.  By the time we were finished I refused to let the boys eat lunch in the house.  I didn't want to get it dirty again but I was also ready to get out and enjoy the beautiful day.

     I wanted to take the boys to a Sugar shack last year to watch them make maple syrup but we ended up looking around too late in the season and we missed it!  This year I started calling around early and was so excited when I found out they were making syrup today.  The man even asked what time I thought we'd be stopping by so they'd be sure to save some for us to watch!  The boys had not wanted to do this trip with me, but as soon as my husband mentioned it they were all excited.  Go figure! 
As soon as we pulled up we could see all the "smoke" coming out of the chimneys, it was so picturesque with all the snow around it.  The boys went right up and looked in one of the tubs; commenting that it must be sap in that tub since it didn't smell like syrup at all.  

went in and noticed the sweet, sweet smell of maple syrup right away.  We were given a nice tour of the process without even asking, once they realized we had never seen a sugar shack before.  What a wonderful New England experience I have been missing out on!  

 I was amazed at how thorough they were and how engaging it was for the boys. He explained how it was the Native Americans who discovered that maple sap would turn nice and sweet when boiled and showed us the type of tap they would have used back then.   He then passed a wooden tap around for them to feel and see. 
Evan checks out the wooden tap

The sap is at a rolling boil

  • We were told that the trees produce the sap to make the leaves on the tree and that this is the time to gather sap since the trees are starting to get ready to produce leaves.  
  • Sap flows the best during times when it's warm and sunny during the day and freezing at night.  
We then learned that from wooden taps they went on to make metal ones and they have a tree right in the shack set up with holes, wooden taps, metal taps, buckets, and the newer tubing process they use now.  He showed the boys how they would tap each tree with a tube and run them together with each tube getting bigger until they finally all met in one bucket.  It takes 40 gallons to make 1 gallon of syrup!

He then brought us outside to show us how they use distillation (like cruise ships do to convert sea water to drinking water) to reduce the water content in the sap so they don't have to boil it as long to get syrup.  It's also known as reverse osmosis and the boys were delighted to realize it was the bin they were first looking at and that they were right; it was sap not syrup.  He scooped some up and showed us how they use a gauge to determine how much water is in the mixture.  It was neat to see what looked like an ordinary thermometer floating up through the water/ sap mixture.

We then headed inside and over to the stove where they were just pouring out a batch of syrup.  He opened the wood stove door so the boys could see the fire and feel how hot it gets.  We could see the sap boiling and there was even a tiny window we could look through and see the sap running.  He even showed them where the syrup goes after it cools to be filtered and poured off into other containers.

We saw all the products they make; syrup (of course), maple/peanut brittle, maple sugar candies, maple salad dressing, and we even got to try maple flavored cotton candy (now I don't like maple or cotton candy but for some reason with the two put together it's like heaven!).

We bought some candy and some cotton candy and while he made us a fresh bag of cotton candy the boys looked around the maple sugar shack some more.  Alec spotted some snowshoes and asked what they were and what they were for.  Evan noticed all the different saw blades hanging around the place and told us what he thought they were for and how they were used.  Drawing on knowledge from shows like Ax Men and other cartoons.   It was a wonderful, and short, trip to our local maple sugar shack.  What a sweet ending to our Sunday!

Linking up with: Hearts for Home 
Tots and Me

1 comment :

  1. I love that place. The great thing about it is that the owner is so enthusiastic about what he does, it's wonderful. I can't wait to go again this year.