February 28, 2011

Maple Sugaring Season!

Harvesting Delicious Gold From the Maple Trees
Sarah and Tasha Corgi

With the coming of spring, with freezing nights and warming days, the sap in the old sturdy maple trees starts its journey up the trees. For generations Diane's family has harvested the sweetness of the maple tree. When she was a little girl Diane remembers peeking into her grandfather's sugar house at night to see her grandfather and uncles tending the fires and skimming the foam from boiling sap pans. Maple sugaring is a tradition in Diane's family.

Diane and her father continued the tradition by making maple syrup. They constructed a small sugaring hut, a simple shelter from the elements. Many days and nights of dedicated work brought forth delicious gold from the maple trees. Once you have partaken in the old fashioned task of maple sugaring you can sense in the warming of the weather that the sap is running and the urge to commence sugaring is irresistible!

The tradition has been carried down further as Diane has done maple sugaring with her own family. One year when Diane and her family were making maple syrup Diane drew and painted the pussy willows around the photograph of Sarah collecting sap with Tasha Corgi and used it as an early springtime card.

Some of the spiles that Diane's family have used through the years. The top spile has a patent date of 1877.

In 1865, in Diane's direct family line, George Deuel harvested 200 pounds of maple sugar, James Standish harvested 175 pounds of maple sugar, and Lynus Shepard harvested 100 pounds of maple sugar.

Diane's father built this simple sugaring hut. During sugaring season your sugaring hut gets to feel like home.

Sarah peeks under the bucket lid to find some of the sap had frozen. Although rusty on the outside inside the buckets are clean and shiny.

It is so nice to be out in the coming of spring collecting sap, tending fires, and seeing and hearing the birds! When Sarah was little, her friends came over to help and experience the art of maple sugaring as they helped bore holes for spiles. With spoons the girls tasted the sap as it came out of the tree. Diane explained to Sarah's friends though the sap was clear and tasteless now, when boiled and evaporated down it would become a thickened maple syrup.

The Johnsons held a party where they finished off a batch of syrup on their old cook range. After straining the syrup, Sarah and her friends made their own pancakes on the old wood cook stove and they were enjoyed with the delicious homemade maple syrup. It is very satisfying to make your own maple syrup!

What a pleasant sight it is to see the old buckets hung on the maple trees.

In "A Time to Keep" Tasha Tudor illustrates a sap house and sugar bush with a family partaking in the annual tradition of gathering sap. Pussy willows and red-winged blackbirds surround the drawings. Diane loves to hear the red-winged blackbird, it reminds her that spring is coming. As of yet, the red-wing has not returned. "Around the Year" is another of Diane's favorite Tasha Tudor books that illustrates the tasks and celebrations around the year. There is also maple sugaring in "Around the Year" by Tasha Tudor.



The BUTT'RY and BOOK'RY said...

Oooooo Maple Sugaring Season!!!
Yippie Spring!! (my girlfriend just spotted her red winged this morning hoorah)!
I love all your wonderful memories.
And the pussy willow paintings on Sarah's picture are truly fitting. I can't help wondering if your Dear Friend Tasha Tudor got to see them? I'm sure she'd have been delighted if so. (warm smile)
We love to go to a Maple place in Ont Canada (across the River) every year called "Agape Valley" They are modern but with the old fashioned twist! It's much fun!
We only have one Maple tree here at the Bleat'n's 7 acres (in Youngstown NY). My Hubby keeps planning to tap it..but well..hee!

Glad that you visited ;-) I love to collect (and use) all things Flax. (And you have quite the wonderful collection as well);-) The two wheels came in pieces and I had to reconstruct them and (replace leather and such) but all the important stuff was there. The Great wheel gave me a Dickens of a time but she now spins beautifully.
I am hoping to actually plant flax this year and do the whole shaboom (smile again hee)...we shall see!(I do have the seeds)! But I also love to spin and knit the "Fluffy Barnfolk Fiber too.Fraser McGrumply hates giving it up! Right now I am spinning with Charmin the Great Pyr's Fluff! It is glorious! (and believe it or not odorless)! To bad we don't live closer we could all spin together :-)
Well, Kidred Hugs and Blessings, Linnie

Diane Shepard Johnson and Sarah E. Johnson said...

Dear Linnie,

Yes, Tasha did see the photograph of Sarah and Tasha Corgi collecting sap with the handpainted pussy willows round. She loved it! Tasha had great big fat albums of Sarah, the Corgyn, the goats, and kitties. I love spinning on the great wheel, too! 'Tis a lot like charkha spinning, spinning off the point. I'm about ready to open up another fleece and spin, spin, spin!

Your friends,
Diane and daughter Sarah at the Corgyncombe Courant

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