Friday, March 19, 2010

Farm Wars: Conflicting Nature Signs

Running around to do some things this morning I happened to notice lots of plastic tubing running through the sugar bushes capturing sap for maple syrup. Syruping requires lots of luck in that there's a definite benefit from warm days and cold (below freezing) nights. The warmth draws the sap up the tree during the day and the cold forces it to run back down at night. (If it stayed in the smaller twigs, they might burst from expansion of frozen water in the sap.) So these contrasting temperatures are a boon to the person tapping the trees. They get a heavy rush of sap into their tubes (or buckets if they are old school) when the sap goes up and another rush when it comes back down. If the night time temps aren't cold enough, that night time rush doesn't happen and the next morning there's no big flow going up since it's still up there. Plus, when the sap stays in the twigs and buds long enough, they start to bloom and the sap flavor changes for the worse.

Anyway, my main chore this morning was to visit a place in Millerton, PA, that sells fishing licenses. Not only did I need to purchase mine for 2010, but the Tiadaghton Audubon Society has had some posters printed up for the eel project and we've been trying to get to all the license vendors in the county. Along the same road and in the next town over is Draper's Super Bee Apiary and I was asked to stop and get some Orange Blossom Honey. (I also picked up some Pure Clover for myself. Delicious stuff!) I commented about the spring-like weather and said something to the effect that the bees would be active soon. The clerk told me that they already are active and that they are working some of the red maple flowers appearing in the trees across the yard. That is NOT a good sign for the maple folks.

Watching the dairy cows milling around the barns and feed piles of hay, I got to thinking about something Threecollie of Northview Dairy said the other day. She was wishing mightily for the pasture grass to start growing so they could turn the herd loose amongst this "free" food that is better than stored hay. Of course her wish for fast growing fields of grass might not benefit the syrup man working the sugar bush on her property, but if they got some bees....

1 comment:

threecollie said...

Been hearing from a couple different guys who sugar off up here that, although the season was very short, the run was exceptional. One friend of ours said he had the best year ever. I think it started running very early this year.