Lunch with Swift

Roaming southern New Hampshire's Monadnock Region and beyond — visiting unique places and tasting the local flavor..

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Vemont sap story — Spring 2014

Names have been changed to protect the people in this sticky situation from drizzling out of control.

A text came across on my phone on my way home from a Saturday dump run. Swift “I have got a problem over here.”

It came in from a colleague, Emmet, who taps a bunch of maple trees over in Vt on a wood lot I work on just north of Brattleboro.

I called him back. “What’s the problem Emmet?” He started in very colorfully saying that he had not 10s of dollars, not 1000s of dollars but multiple 1000s of dollars into efforts to appease the neighbor who lives near the sugar bush that we look after. What Emmet was talking about was noise. The sugar house is just across the road from Ernest’s house where Emmet runs a vacuum pump.

It used to be that the sap just dripped out of the trees. Now, they have discovered that you can apply suction to the tubes and it greatly increases the yield from the trees. Mostly, maple trees run during the afternoon when it is warm after a cold night. But this winter with the help of suction, the trees are running at night. The weather has not been cooperative to the syrup-ers because it has been too cold for too long. Now it looks like it is going to warm up really fast which will probably shut down the season before it has a good chance to start making this year’s yield pitiful. 

Back to the problem: Emmet got a call last night from neighbor Ernest complaining that he couldn’t listen to his AM radio because the electric pump was putting out interference.     Emmet told me that he had switched from a gas pump recently also because of noise complaints.  There was plenty of colorful language in the re-counting of the late night phone complaint call. While Emmet was recounting this dilemma, a rooster was crowing in the background. Several times I had to say “what?”

I have to say in this day and age of internet radio and satellite radio, someone complaining about bad AM reception is just about Vermont-y as the making of Maple syrup itself. Satellite radio and internet are a long way from reaching the back hills yet. So are ipad apps for remotely controlling electric pumps. (They do exist.)

I suggested to Emmet that sometimes its better to just say to a guy like Ernest: That sucks.

The season is very short this year, we agreed that he needed to make his machine suck as hard as it could. Because one of these days I will be having to write about some good old Vermont pancake that I’ll be having for lunch.