The sap was flowing this week and thus, the evaporator was firing, boiling the sugary maple tree sap (around 2-2.5% sucrose content during the spring run) into delicious maple syrup! Farm Sprouts signed in by creating the letters from their names with small twigs. Some twigs are straight, while others are curvy. We wonder what makes them grow the way they do? Farm Sprouts voted for firebox or evaporator, clues guiding our preparation to visit the Sugar Shack.
Our hike out to the Sugar Bush included greetings in Spanish and English to the animals lining the lane. The signs and smell of animal manure were in the air, noted by Farm Sprouts and surely another sign that spring is on its way! Another sign? Mud puddles! Farm Sprouts soaked up the opportunity to jump in the mud. We also spotted Canadian geese, yet have not seen any robins yet. The puddles are a sure sign the worms will be emerging soon and the robins will be soon to follow!
We were intrigued to see steam rolling out of the sugar shack. We peeked into the wood shed, amazed at the amount of wood stacked inside. We wondered for what purpose the volunteers might use the wood? We were able to see Mr. Wayne and Mr. Richard, busy collecting sap and pumping it up the the storage tank to be fed into the evaporator inside the Shack. We noted the temperature: 32 degrees Fahrenheit for the morning group and 38 degrees Fahrenheit for the afternoon group. It takes freezing temperatures at night and above freezing temperatures during the day to cause sap flow in the trees. Later, we recorded these temperatures and the conditions (cloudy, some rain) onto a chart in the classroom, as well a big “Yes!” for sap flow!
Inside the Sugar Shack, Farm Sprouts
Next, we made our way to the fire, tended by Mr. Ken. We greatly enjoyed his company and the opportunity to taste fresh, warm sugar maple sap (flash-boiled) with Mini Banana-Maple Pancake Muffins. We used Tollgate sugar and syrup in the recipe and Tollgate syrup for dipping. It was such fun to dip muffins in syrup and to lick the plates clean! With warm bodies and full bellies, it was then time to check on Farm Sprouts’ very own tapped tree to see whether or not they had collected any sap. They were surprised and delighted to see their bucket nearly full! They began an assembly line to take small buckets of sap to the larger tank, where it will then be picked up by the volunteers with a Bobcat to be transported to the Sugar Shack. Farm Sprouts spent some time exploring and playing in the Sugar Bush before journeying back to the classroom.
Back at the Activity Center, Farm Sprouts shared in the story, Maple Sugar from the Sugarhouse by Laurie