Tuesday, April 16, 2013


We have become big fans of Vermont Maple Syrup.  We hope to share it with our friends and family when we get home.  All we can say is "We have been converted!"  We have learned some things that were all new to us so I will share what we have learned. 

1.  It takes 40, I repeat, 40 gallons of maple sap to make 1 gallon of REAL Maple Syrup.

2.  The sap production is all dependent on the temperature in the spring.  It has to be below freezing at night and above freezing in the day for the sap to run.  It usually runs for about 4-6 weeks. 

3.  Most of the producers use tubing that runs from tree to tree and to a central tank to collect the sap.

4.  Some still use the buckets that hang on trees, but they have to be emptied every day because the sap does not keep.

5.  The way to make syrup is to boil the sap.  It boils it down to syrup. 

6.  There are strict regulations in Vermont about the quality of the syrup.  The lightest is called Fancy and then there are grades down to C grade which is dark like we expect it to be.  I have tried all of the grades and actually prefer C.  Most of the grade C goes for commercial use for making things like baked beans and ham.  

7.  Probably the most shocking thing we have learned is how much it costs.  It is $60-$80 a gallon. 

These trees are along the road on our way to work

This is a very large tree and it can have 3 buckets on it

This is President Goodrich.  He is in the Missionary Presidency.  His sugar operation if one of the  3 largest in the state.  He produces 20,000 gallons of syrup a year.  This is the stainless steel "cooker" where the sap is boiled.  It was really huge.

Pres. Goodrich gave us a tour of his facility and also showed us some history of maple surgaring and some old  buckets and things that used to be used.  There were some photos that were very interesting.
Sister Goodrich fixed "Sugar on Snow"  for us.  It really is snow in the pans.  She cooks the syrup to 230 degrees and then pours small amount on the snow and it cooks and then your pick it up with a fork and eat it.  It is delicious.  It is very popular.  Everyone kept telling us about it so we were glad to taste it.  The surprising thing is that everyone that told us about Sugar on Snow said that it is served with pickles!!!!  and donuts.  Sounds good to me.

This is a "SAP SHACK" just down the hill from JSBM.  We  pass it every day on the way to work.  One day when we could see that they were Boiling we stopped and talked to the man.  He was more that happy to show us his operation.  He produces 200 gallons of syrup a year.  It was pretty down home compared to Pres. Goodrich, but he made some really good syrup.  I went back to the next day and bought some of what he was boiling that day.  
Albert Knudsen, the man we watched and then bought syrup from.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Lights, Lights, Lights

At Christmas there is a big light display at the JSBM.  They (this year we will) put up 180,000 lights.  Now we are taking down the lights.  It is quite a process.  They rent a big man-lift which goes up to
Getting our harnesses on for the training
70 ft.  We had to be trained in the lift.  I have been trained but I have yet to take down any lights.  Brent and Bill have been working for several days in the lift taking lights out of the tops of tall trees.  I, on the other hand sit day after day folding lights. Judy and I have to test them all and replace any burned out lights.  If you have ever worked with Christmas lights, you know how frustrating this can be.  Anyway, we visit and watch old movies to pass the time while we work.  It seems like it will never end.

Driving down to the parking lot for our training

Tim training Brent on how to run the lift.  You drive it from the bucket.

This is me in the bucket.  This is zoomed in, I am actually pretty high in the air

Me at the highest point, about 70 Ft.
Brent at the highest point
Sometimes they have to use a long poll to reach the lights and unwind them.
We passed the training and filled out the paper work and now we are ready to take down and put up lights.  I don't know if I will take down lights or not.  I will probably just check and put lights away.
Brent and Bill taking down lights by the residence.

They finished taking down the lights for Christmas 2012 on March 30.  Now it is time to get them checked and put away.
They bring the lights into the shop in these bins.

We have to plug them in and change any lights that are burned out and then fold them up and put them back into the bins and label the bins.  There are different colors and types of lights and we have to keep them separate.  Some of the lights have faded so I am told that after we get all of the lights tested and folded we have to color the lights with markers.  Sounds strange to me too, but I guess that's what we'll do if we are asked.

Judy doing lights across the table from me.  There are bins and bins of lights.