Amateur Sugar Maker by Noel Perrin

By Noel Perrin

Perrin's provides this pleasant account of establishing a sugarhouse and makingmaple sugar in Vermont.

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But as soon as evaporators did begin to come in, after the Civil War, screams Page 32 of pained farmers about the price were heard all over New England. There was a conference of central Vermont sugar makers in 1872, for example, to discuss new equipment and methods. A Mr. Bisbee of Washington County was there specially to talk about his recently purchased evaporator. He liked both its speed and the high quality of the syrup it made. " Mr. Bisbee would have been a lot more upset in 1969, when prices of small evaporators started at around $375.

Mrs. Illsley packed it for me in a spotlessly clean mayonnaise jar. 00 for the syrup, and started on home. I have since washed the tank, sanded it, put on a new hose, and painted it with two coats of the best (and, alas, most expensive) paint I know. The color is Haddam Barn Red, which is to ordinary barn red as fresh cream is to Coffee Mate. The four iron straps are black. 00. Now that the tank is smartly dressed, a couple of people have said it ought to be in a sugaring museum, but what I like to see is something doing the work it was made for.

If I simply laid the pipe on the ground, the horses would step on it and trip over it and probably break it. If I buried it, then the sap would always collect and freeze in the two places where the pasture has a little dip. Unless I went below frost line, and that would mean hiring a backhoe to dig a trench four feet deep. In the end carrying buckets to the road is easier. If I had put in a pipeline, it would have been plastic pipe. This is highly symbolic. Some day plastic may drive metal out of sugaring, just as metal once drove wood.

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