2019 MS Farm Sprouts – Week #3 Wednesday AM

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 to 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 were completely in awe at the steam rising from the evaporator. Mr. Fred told stories and guided Farm Sprouts through discovering some of the answers to their questions. Mr. John and Mr. Bob generously assisted with running the evaporator for us today. The firebox, in particular, was very interesting, as well as seeing “where the syrup comes out.”

Farm Sprout preschoolers interacting with Tollgate maple sugaring volunteers to find out the purpose of the wood stacked in the Sugar Shack’s shed

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 Lazarro Knowlton. Thank you to the Hess and Grady families for donating this great story to us! Farm Sprouts learned they were very familiar with most of the process through their experiences at the farm this season, except for the part in which they enjoyed fresh maple syrup on pancakes. They need not worry, as that is the plan for next week! We journaled some of our thoughts and ideas before spending some time working in our own cardboard Sugar Shack among other activities available in the classroom. We look forward to enjoying fruits of our labor with a pancake celebration for our final week in order to draw another great season to a close!

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