Saturday, March 29, 2014

Waiting for Godot

Okay, this will be a bit of a rant.

I checked my records and since 2000, the latest I have started the evaporator is March 15.  Yesterday (March 28) the forecast was calling for +8.  I was pumped.  This would be the first truly warm day this year.  My only concern was one or two barrels might overflow.  During the past 2 weeks, the sap has run marginally, interspersed with cold snaps.  I would get 2-3 inches of sap (not enough to pump into the reservoir) which would then freeze.  Repeat.  I now have barrels half full of frozen sap.  So, a good run would result in sap overflowing the barrels.

Fortunately, Lee Anne had run 50K yesterday and warned me that it never got very warm.  Seriously?  The first day since November that it would be above 3 degrees and they were wrong?  This morning I checked the temperature for the previous 24 hours.  It went up to a scorching 1 degree.  Not happy.  I also noticed it was -5 this morning and that the record low for March 29 is (was) -2.  Very not happy.  Today's high is zero, but don't worry, tomorrow's high is going to be 4!  Yeah, right.

The real problem is that the clock is ticking.  All maple syrup producers know that circa April 15, it gets warm.  The frogs croak, the snow melts and the trees bud.  Note that last point.  Trees bud because the sap changes chemical composition.  It is time to make leaves, using energy stored in the roots, transported to the buds via the sap.  That chemical change in the sap spells the end of making maple syrup.  The sap "sours", foams like crazy and can even turn to gel.  Pull the spiles.  So, I am now anticipating a short season, even if the sap continues to run past April 15, it will not run well.

Running:  It has taken a back seat to prepping the sugar shack, digging out mainlines (over and over) and helping with house demolition.  The house is close to being a shell now, down to exterior walls, load bearing walls and the roof.  Soon, the roof will come off.  If the sap doesn't run soon, I could stand under the ceiling and blow the roof off...

I did get out for a run yesterday with a few fellows at work.  We ran on the treadmills at the Honda gym, as running on Industrial Road in rain is not much fun; there are no sidewalks.

Good luck to all those running the new Laura Secord Memorial run on April 5.  I think the Bruce Trail down south should be fine by race day.  I am looking at Pick Your Poison, as my 2014 inaugural race.  Just 25K, to ease into the season!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tap Dancing

Not sure why this year is so much different than other years, but I don't recall ever reaching mid-March without 2 - 3 contiguous days above freezing.  The average daily high at the sugar shack this time of year is +1.  They are now calling for above freezing on Friday; a measly +1.  From then until March 19, it is not expected to go above freezing.

I need to tap when it is -5 or warmer.  Tomorrow's high is -5, which (technically) means I can tap for about 2 hours, during the warmest part of the day.  But let's factor in how tired I am of waiting for Godot.  I will start tapping tomorrow, damn the torpedoes.  That way I can take full advantage of the huge sap rush on Friday, when it climbs to +1.  Do you know what roots think about +1 when there is 4 feet of snow covering them?  Absolutely nothing.  Roots can't think.  However I would estimate that the ambient temperature just above ground level (near the bottom of 4 feet of snow) will be -10.  And dark.

Worked at house destruction today and took the ceiling in the basement down.  It went quickly, considering the ceiling was comprised of half inch drywall nailed to the joists, with a half inch of plaster attached to the drywall.  I can't figure out why.  Perhaps the house was not heavy enough, with only a layer of "light" drywall?  The MO was simple.  Reach up and grab the plaster/drywall and wrench with slightly more than body weight.  Repeat 3,000 times.  My arms are sore and my fingers are not working well (plenty of typos in this entry, before correcting).  Did I mention that I dug out sap mainlines for 4 hours yesterday?  I can clearly see now that retirement is going to kill me.  What does not kill us makes our arms sore.

Anyway, it is a beautiful day and I should be out snowshoeing, but since I will be tapping tomorrow, let's give it a rest.  I'm too sore to run, but might go for a short one tomorrow before the killer snowshoe.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Memo to Spring: Ontario is Waiting

88F in Florida.  -8F in Creemore.  I tried to convince the fellow I was talking to today who works in Florida that we should spread the temperature evenly.  He did the math and figured out the the AVERAGE of our temperatures (40F) is about as cold as it gets in his neck of the woods.  His reply was succinct:  "We ain't got no deal".

I went out for a run yesterday (Sunday March 1).  Into a strong freezing humid wind with the chill factor north of -25.  No thanks.  Turned around and embraced the treadmill once again this winter.  Not happy.

Tapping is not fairing much better.  Tapping a tree below -5C is not recommended, as it can split the wood, resulting in damage to the tree.  So I wait.  The long range forecast for the property (near Singhampton) is nothing above freezing until after March 17.  And in case you want to mention Friday March 7, the high is -2 there.  Then it gets colder.

My biggest fear is that the temperature will go from -10 one day to +20 the next.  Everyone will be ecstatic, except for those who were rash enough to declare that they could fill all maple syrup orders this year.  Again.

Well, tomorrow I will dig out the mainlines in a feeble effort to get ready.  There is so much snow in the bush that many mainlines that are normally well above the snow are buried.

At least I'll get in my workout!

Oh!  Today's picture is the current snowbank along Airport Road, just south of Avening / Creemore.  It should melt by July...