Friday, March 26, 2010

Cold nights and warm days

Yesterday morning, the thermometer read 13˚F. My fingers inside my work gloves were cold as I walked the barnyard looking for new babies. No new babies, and my hands warmed up by the time I had fed the ewes their corn and hay.

We actually appreciate the cold nights at this time of year. We tapped the maple trees out at the sugar bush almost two weeks ago, and we’ve collected sap and boiled it down into syrup ever since. We’ve had enough warm weather lately that the lakes are starting to open up and we are no where near ready to be done syruping. When the lakes are open, it means that the weather is too warm for good clear sap. When the sap turns yellow, we stop sugaring.

So a temperature of 13˚ means that the ice will last just that much longer. We didn’t collect any sap today – the temperature only hit a high of 32˚. The best we could do was empty ice from the cans that warmed enough to shake the ice free. But we spent the time feeding the fires and splitting wood to feed the fires.

They are predicting 50˚ weather next week, so we have our fingers crossed that the sap will run hard tomorrow and over the weekend. Cold nights, below freezing and warm days above freezing make perfect sugaring weather. If it freezes during the night and hits 50˚ during the day, we’ll be fine. But that doesn’t usually happen. Really warm days don’t usually lead to freezing nights. While most Minnesotans think spring, we talk longingly of blizzards and cold snaps – anything to prolong the time we spend in the woods turning sap into syrup.

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