Climbing Rhyme Monday Mention

Is there any movement? I think so. It spit snow this morning but  currently the temp is 36 and possibly rising. The vacuum pump is on and the guys are snowshoeing the lines, following the bubbles.

Open House Weekend sparkled. Hundreds indulged in sugar-on-snow, prepared from Friday's batch of syrup. The trees offered us beautiful sap in the nick of time.

Open House Weekend sparkled. Hundreds indulged in sugar-on-snow prepared from Friday’s batch of syrup. The trees offered us beautiful sap in the nick of time.

Climbing Rhymers:
Not averse to
more verse from the
tip of the tongue,
of the pencil?
Your choice: silly
or filled with gems
of sound friendships.
Ahem. Write on.

In reference to the post “Climbing Rhyme Sunday Summit,” I have enjoyed reading aloud the verses submitted in the comment box.  So far,the ‘s’ sounds are popular, in particular the soft ‘s’ sounds as in the words As, Appease, Lies. Have you tried rapping these verses? It works.

Submission Suggestion: Follow the senses: what do you taste, smell, hear, touch, see? Unbutton that shirt, stay loose.

To Henry Lavanway

What do I see
at the tree on
the steep bank? A
circle, space at
the base, exposed
bare ground, snow pulled
back, snow receded,
showing dead leaves,
roots fed by snow
My old friend
always mentioned
that when tree wells
form, THEN
the sap will run.





On To The Next Game

Hill Report, by woods crew member Ross Scatchard:

Ross playing the tapping game.

Ross playing the tapping game.

The sugaring season thus far has worked like a series of games. Tapping could be seen as a game of sorts; search for the live white wood to set the tap amongst the dotted pattern of previous tap holes. Good luck on some of the double tapped trees. Each individual tree holds this small game, but the larger process of setting near 10,000 taps felt like more of a chore at times when the snow was thigh deep and the zig-zag of blue lines led you up yet another steep slope. We were able to get everything tapped before the first sap started to flow. One point for the sugar makers on that game. On to the next game of the sugaring season.

Bubbles. Follow the bubbles. If they’re really whizzing, you know there’s a hole somewhere on the blue line above you. Sometime you can hear the hissing as the vacuum sucks air into the line, losing pressure on the whole system. So, we walk the lines, listening, looking, following the bubbles. Quick, find the hole caused by an animal chew, or fallen tree limb, cut out the damaged section and splice the line back together. On to the next hole, hundreds may await your discovery and repair. Follow the bubbles.

Snow Lichen

Frosty Lichen

We are into the most tedious game of the season. The waiting game! After a short run in early-mid March, temperatures have dropped and stayed low. Many checks of the weather and some almost warm enough days have just been a tease. Leaving us wondering WHEN? The weather dictates our work, and since there is no controlling it, embrace it. Skiing has been the game of choice for the Nebraska Knoll crew. We’ve been enjoying the wonderful snowpack and not quite warm enough sugaring temperatures while we have it. Of course, we are ready to boil at a moment’s notice. Through the stages of the season, these games have helped merge the gap between work and play.



Editor’s Note: The waiting game ended mid-morning as the temp zoomed up.
Yesterday, an edge to the weather; today, an edge to the voices.

-How did the door to the pump room get left open all night? There’s a layer of ice in everything up there. I hope it didn’t ruin the pumps.
-Are you blaming ME?
-I’m not blaming you, I’m just saying, HOW did that door get left open? It’s wide open.

By late afternoon, following hours of pump commotion, an electrician diagnosed a fried breaker. It fried when the frozen pump tripped on.

-Lucky we didn’t burn the place down.

How’s It Running? Slowly, but it’s finally running. Will it run harder and harder during this mild night?

The Night Hurdles: Deciding what to do about the frozen pipes that run from shed to shed to sugarhouse to tanks.  Even the drain from the RO room is frozen. This is new. This is not good.



Monday Evening Weather Report

 Chops writes:

DSCN99093/23/15 It’s well into another frozen round of enthusiasm-deflating sugar season doldrums. I had thought last March was the coldest I would ever see, but here it comes again on repeat. I have been told by people who should know that this freakish Arctic weather is a result of global weirding, a direct consequence of global warming. Unshakable cold caused by warming is more than my intuitive brain can absorb. As a sugarmaker it is a cruel jest of nature for which all we have to show is a paltry lump of rock-hard sap in our lower holding tanks. I can only hope this situation will burn itself out before it’s too late.

Monday Morning Weather Report


This winter bites.
The overnight low
Not quite zero
Well below norms
The snow formed by
A darn north wind
Cold, fiendish.

Three-Minute Sketch Division. The Tiger: A Keystone Elder. The two upper trunks are each the size of an average, tappable tree.

Three-Minute Sketch Division. The Tiger: A Keystone Elder. The two upper trunks are each the size of an average, tappable tree.

Toppling trees on
Keystone lines. Lest
I neglect the
Best bit: skies
Bluer by day
Than I’ve ever

Seen later March
Bluer than blue
Snow white (too white)
And two days more
Of the glory of
An Arctic





Maple Sweet Potato Cakes

Maple Trout Lilli writes:

A second chance for the oh-so-sweet, sweet potato…no marshmallows with these; just our good old friend, maple syrup. A nice balance of sweet and spicy (there’s that combination again) but not overly sweet, plus the Greek yogurt makes a rich counterpart. These cakes will scorch when you’re not watching…so look alive and practice your wrist flipping skills.   Just in time for Passover/Easter …wow the elders with these faux latkes.




5 ounces 2% Greek yogurt
½ tsp. curry powder
S&P to taste


1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded
½ tsp. kosher salt
1 egg
1 ½ tablespoons maple syrup
½ tsp. pepper
½ tsp. paprika
1 pinch cinnamon
½ cup minced yellow onion, sautéed
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
Grapeseed oil for frying

  1. Make curried Greek yogurt by mixing all ingredients in a small bowl…easy
  2. Saute onion in a bit of oil on med-low for about 10 min.
  3. Make cakes by placing shredded potato in a large bowl and toss w/salt, letting it stand for 5 min.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together egg, maple syrup, pepper, paprika and cinnamon. Usingyour hands, squeeze all excess liquid out of potato.       Add potato, onion and breadcrumbs to egg mixture and combine well.
    [Has someone been nibbling? I thought there were five..  -AC]

    [Has someone been sneaking these? I thought there were five on the plate..  -AC]

  5. Form mixture into 8-10 cakes. Heat griddle or large pan to medium. Coat with oil. (I used grapeseed oil because it can withstand a higher heat without smoking). Place potato cakes on griddle and cook for 8-10 until crispy and brown, flattening with spatula as they cook…
  6. Serve while crisp with Curried Greek Yogurt.


Thanks to Foxes Love Lemons Blog



Fickle Mode

From earlier this week:

Sugar Season in the Fickle Mode

 3/17/15 The thermometer which hangs in the shadow of our north facing woodshed is always quite accurate, even when the sun is shining. It shows the temperature has been oscillating between 31.5 and 32.5 for the last 16 hours. During this time the precipitation has turned from snow to rain (and everything in between) and back again more times than I could count. I don’t run the vacuum pump when the lines are choked full of ice, and had turned it off early last night when that happened. Then the temperature began rising to freezing again and I checked the pump room a few times during the night to see if anything was trickling into the sap release tank. I finally turned the vacuum on in the morning as the ice started to dissolve. In less than an hour the release tank, and upper manifold which directs the incoming sap lines into it, had completely filled with what looked like shaved ice. The releaser, under vacuum, had become a miniature snow-making machine. The sap was alternating between running through the slush one minute, and being choked off by it Cabin Feverthe next, making sap collection erratic and minimal. A mid-afternoon sudden drop in temperature accompanied by gusty winds and snow squalls finally put an end to this fickle behavior.


Sugaring has been described as the most weather sensitive crop in the world, and today is a good example of that. It would be hard to think of another crop where one degree of temperature would make such a dramatic difference in yield.