Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sugar shacks

 We left early on Saturday morning with visions of freshly made maple syrup dancing in our heads.  Oh, the anticipation.  It was an unseasonably warm day for March and what do you get when you mix warm air, rain and frozen ground?  Fog, lots of fog.

 At times, it was so foggy that we were driving with zero visibility. This pic was about the best it was the entire day.

 Plus sugar shacks are not on major highways to say the least.

 Most of them are about as remote as you can get.

 Our first stop was at our favorite place.  These people had made about a dozen different maple flavored cookies and bars, they offered maple mustard dip with pretzels and anyone that wanted one, got a bowl of vanilla ice cream and access to a maple syrup warmer where you could unleash a stream of warm maple syrup over the mountain of white. I passed, The Blog Tech did not.  He indulged.  Plus, they scooped the ice cream on top of a piece of maple pecan pie.  Talk about a sugar overload!  All of the food offerings are free at all of the sugar shacks.

The mammoth boiler.  All of the equipment comes from Canada which of course is known for it's maple everything, including it's Leafs.  They are a hockey team in case that slipped past you.
 Off to the next shack with the first of our maple products rattling in the trunk.

 They call this area 'The land of milk and maple", there are farms everywhere.

 Everywhere you look you see these lines.  Can you imagine how much more efficient syruping is now that they tap trees and run lines like these to the shack?  Much better than having to go out and empty buckets several times a day or more.

 The true telltale sign is the smoke in the distance.  It is so exciting to follow the smoke to find the shack.

 And deep in the woods, there it is. Those tables are loaded with all things maple for sampling.  It's so much fun to be driving through the woods seeing nothing but farm animals and trees and then you find a shack and it is bustling with people and activity.

 They offer so much food that they have tents and picnic tables set up.  They served maple coffee and maple tea too.

 I am fascinated by the lines.  A spiderweb of sap about to be sugary goodness.

 This shack uses an old time boiler which uses lots of wood.

 This is the collection area that the sap runs into and is filtered before going into the boiler.

 An example of all the different taps which are used.  Click any pic for a closer look.

 More wood.

 People gather to learn about the process.  Each shack has several people that will teach you about sugaring off and give you a tour. They will even teach you to tap a tree.

 Buckets are still used on the trees which are close to the shack.

 More wood and holding tanks for sap in the background.

And off we go to find the next shack.