We have heard the P word incessantly over the past year; however, that word means nothing to Mother Nature. Our maple trees are still in the woods, the sap will still flow, and we will be making a new crop of maple syrup very soon. Politics, viruses, and even snowstorms will not stop the sap from flowing from our maple trees in February, March, and April. The drought last summer may affect the amount of sap, but it will not stop the sap from flowing. Mother Nature Rules.
I am not taking the pandemic lightly. At the sugarhouse we have taken additional precautions and sanitation measures as recommended by the CDC for the safety of our staff and customers. The number of people impacted by this virus through job loss, illness, hospitalization, and death is most distressing to me. In the 74 years that I have been around maple operations (including 46 seasons at Mapletree Farm), I have never experienced economic, weather, climate change, bugs and insects, or anything that has impacted the maple industry like Covid-19. In March, our annual Maple Open House had to be cancelled, the number of visitors during our peak season dwindled to nearly none, and maple product sales slowed. Like other businesses, we made adjustments – we introduced our popular Bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup, increased our shipping services, relied more on social media and extended our hours to compensate. Now we are gearing up for Mother Nature to provide us with a bountiful few weeks of maple sap flows. Yes, we have already started to walk and clear our sap lines. Summer, fall, and winter storms have caused numerous trees to blow down across those lines. The rule for sap lines is: straight, tight, and downhill! Once the 30 plus miles of sap lines are cleared and tight, we will start tapping. We will be tapped out and waiting to make maple syrup sometime around February 20th. Mother Nature does not wait, and we must be ready when prime weather conditions indicate good sap flows. One thing is for sure – sap will flow soon, and we will be turning it into maple syrup and related products. We appreciate your support and look forward to your next visit.
All the best,
The 2020 sugaring season, (our 45th!), is here and, as usual, we are busy at work here in East Concord. As of this post, we are nearly all tapped and have started making syrup. If you are planning on visiting during sugaring season and want to see gathering/boiling in action, please be sure to check the website or give a call first to make sure the weather is cooperating and the farm is open before making the drive.
We continue to make small improvements to the sugarhouse. Most recently, Dean has unpacked some of his collection of antique and vintage sugaring artifacts to display around the building (we will have to build some more shelves to hold them all!). Meanwhile, Robert has been working to improve the pan lifting system to help make us more efficient and safer during clean-up.
Blessed with an unusually mild winter and little snow, Dean, Chris and Robert have been diligently working in the woods replacing some of the older tubing systems as well as a new suspended mainline to the sugarhouse. Another major project involved upgrading old tubing and preparing for additional taps at two existing sugar bushes along Oak Hill Road. This project required running about 15,000 feet of new tubing. We are now using sap spouts even smaller than the “5/16” (0.31”) Health Spout.” They are only .172” in diameter and are thin walled to conform to the tree. Yes, we still get as much sap while wounding the tree considerably less.
You may have noticed we relaunched our website, Mapletreefarmnh.com, in 2018. Among other things, a shopping cart was added to make it easier for our customers to place orders. We update the website with the latest happenings at Mapletree Farm so make sure to periodically check it out. In addition, Mapletree Farm is now on Facebook (user name – Mapletree Farm) and Instagram (user name Mapletreefarmnh). Please like and follow us by clicking on the links at the bottom of the page. These platforms allow us to more readily interact with our followers and vice-versa. Here you will see more pictures of year-round activities at the farm. They also offer an easy way for you to find out about any events, specials or limited edition maple products. Speaking of which, have you picked up your Mapletree Farm dark robust syrup packaged in a specialty glass hockey player bottle yet? Make sure you do before they are sold out.
This year the traditional New Hampshire Maple Open House Weekend is March 21st and 22nd and Mapletree Farm will be in full swing. Come see how our maple syrup is made, filtered and packaged. Take a tour through the planted maple orchard, watch the sap dripping into buckets and traveling down the tubing network into the sugarhouse. And of course, sample our maple products including maple syrup, maple cream and sugar-on-snow. Oh, yeah – we will have a surprise or two to unveil, but more on that later. And as always feel free to ask us questions. We love to talk to people about maple!
Stay tuned to our website: mapletreefarmnh.com for “What’s Sappening” at East Concord’s historic sugarhouse.
Come and have a Blast!
“The reports of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated. ” – James Woods
A Message from the Old Man at Mapletree Farm
Woods, an actor, put his own spin on Mark Twain’s famous quote, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” In Woods’ case the rumor mill had him retiring. In Twain’s case the rumor mill had him deceased and reading his own obituary in the paper! The funny thing is that Twain’s famous quote was a misquote and the circumstances surrounding it were embellished. Researchers have now clarified that his quote was made not upon seeing a prematurely printed obituary but because a reporter had asked Twain about his health. Twain had responded simply, “The report of my death is an exaggeration.”
The gist of the initial quote and misquote is that you just can’t believe everything you hear. And like Woods, who is a relative youngster at 72, the reports of my retirement have been greatly exaggerated – retirement is not in my vocabulary.
As I sit here and consider why people might be thinking that I have retired, I am reminded that there have been significant changes as late. Amongst them – Meg’s passing, selling the house on Oak Hill, constructing a new sugarhouse, bringing on Robert Saunders as a partner in the maple operations, a website upgrade with online shopping, land acquisition for additional maples to tap, upgrades to tractors and woods equipment; I am starting to see how the rumor may have started. No matter… Change is inevitable, as is aging and I have to admit that age has been catching up with me. Bringing on someone to share the workload at Mapletree Farm had to happen and the partnership with Robert has been invaluable. You may have already seen his name on the website posts. I’m heavily involved with the site’s content, but let’s say I’d rather have him be the one trying to figure out the website software! Nevertheless, I am at the sugarhouse nearly every day at least for a while, so feel free to call and schedule visits or pick-ups, although I do try to steer clear of Sundays outside of the sugaring season.
In 1975, the Wilber Family entertained the neighbors with an old-fashioned Sugaring Off Party at the end of the season. Over the 44 seasons since, the party expanded and morphed into a two-day Maple Weekend celebration. The spring tradition of maple syrup production is unique as Mapletree Farm has remained the only continuously operating sugarhouse in Concord. Mapletree Farm’s focus on family fun and maple sugaring education has made this tradition even more popular.
Since the end of the production season, I have made numerous trips to Vermont and northern New Hamphsire picking up supplies, including 25,000 feet of new tubing. Yes, at 79 I will be out there in the sugar woods putting up new lines. Why new lines? Our experiment with the smaller 3/16” lateral lines has proven very successful. All new 3/16” lines and the small spouts were installed in the planted orchard at the sugarhouse this past season. The sap ﬂow directly into the sugarhouse noticeably increased and lasted a week longer. Impressive! We get more sap naturally and the lines are much easier to clean. The spouts we use with the 3/16” tubing are 0.172” in diameter, that’s 45% smaller than the 5/16” health spout we started using 15 years ago and those were 28% smaller than the “old school” spouts of my youth. The tiny spout is softer, allowing it to conform to the tap hole preventing leakage. Sound complicated? Since we only use gravity flow and natural vacuum the installation is simple. All lines must be straight, tight, and downhill!
Like any farm, there is always something new and plenty to do at Mapletree Farm. It really is a year-round operation that keeps me busy.
While I was walking tap lines along the Oak Hill Tower Road in late March. One of the Tower workers said: “Hi Old Man, how is the sap running?” Honestly that is the ﬁrst time I had been called “Old Man” to my face. I laughed. The next day while Robert was boiling and I was labeling syrup, a customer asked Robert if “the Old Man was around.” We all laughed.
This old man plans to be around Mapletree Farm when it celebrates it’s 50th season of bringing the maple story to New Hampshire and beyond. If you have not visited Mapletree Farm recently, come see us and checkout what is new. You will be surprised. The technology, the equipment, and the cleanliness will give you a new appreciation for our maple syrup. And you just may leave saying, Ok I did just prove one rumor true…Mapletree Farm has the best syrup around 😊
PS If you want to see what I’m up to in my “nonretirement,” follow and like Mapletree Farm on Facebook (username Mapletree Farm) and Instagram (username Mapletreefarmnh). Admittedly I’ve had some help getting Mapletree Farm’s social media sites up and running, but I’ve been busy taking pictures with my phone and trying to come up with informative posts to share my love of maple. You’re never too old to learn!
Making maple syrup is a craft requiring skill, knowledge and an eye for perfection. Combining practices passed down through the generations with the latest technology available, allows us to make exceptional maple products, with a difference that you can taste. We hope you come by and visit us during sugaring season to see our operation and our maple products.
“The Secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” — Dan Millman
Welcome to the 43rd season at Mapletree Farm! Concord’s oldest and only continuously operating sugarhouse.
Over the years, you have heard and read about the goings-on here in East Concord. The wildlife, farm activities & upgrades, regulations and of course, no sugaring conversation would be complete without commentary concerning the weather. Well, the theme of 2017 through 2018 has been change and the changes have been huge!
Shortly after the 2017 season, Mapletree Farm began the largest project to date by far. Feeling that the old sugarhouse, despite 40 years of reliable service, just wasn’t going to continue to meet the needs of the operation, or remain compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, the time had come to break out the pencil and paper and design a new facility. As happens, pencil and paper turned into hammer and chisel and saw and the result is now nearly complete.
The new sugarhouse includes a canning kitchen, a store front, restroom facilities, and of course, the original sugarhouse building, relocated and repurposed to house the evaporator only. We designed the new building with the public in mind, to allow you to visit more comfortably and to make sure you get to see the operation, all of the operation, in one visit.
A self-guided tour in New Hampshire’s only planted maple orchard in production leads visitors into the building at the same place that the sap enters. Visitors can then follow the sap at 2% sugar content to syrup at 66%, asking any and every question that comes to mind, along the way.
As written previously we generally do not tap as early as others. We still like to wait until later in February when the sap is sweeter. Being otherwise very busy with the construction project, we were a little later than typical getting into the woods and tapped this season, however we are now on our way to making some great syrup and plenty is available for sale.
This year our Annual Open House Weekend is March 24th and 25th which is the traditional New Hampshire Maple Weekend. Come see how our maple syrup is made, filtered and packaged. Come and visit, take a tour through the planted maple orchard, watch the sap dripping into buckets and traveling down the tubing network into the sugarhouse. Sample our maple products including maple syrup, maple cream, and sugar on snow. And as always feel free to ask us questions. We love to tell people about maple!
Come and have a Blast!