“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!