2010 Maple Syrup Tour @ Maple Creek Farm!
Nathan and I went with two new friends, Becky and Andy, on a maple syrup farm tour yesterday in Burnsville, NC. I had read about it on the ASAP website and saw an advertisement in the local paper. Seeing how much I love picking apples and pumpkins in New England during the Fall, I knew this was a chance to get outdoors and be active…and involve food! Becky and Andy were up for the adventure and as expected had a great time.
The girls before the hike (I'm on the right)
So we headed an hour northeast and arrived a bit before noon. I was a bit nervous that we’d be the only ones there or that it would be a big flop but there were probably 100 other people there and the owners of the farm had the event very organized…and they were very hospitable!
- Check out those mountains!
We hiked up a mountain to see the sweet maple trees. It wasn’t a long hike but it did work my glutes! No need to use the Stairmaster today 😉 The owners moved to the farm 3 years ago and bought 100 acres. They have thousands of trees and are the southern most farm in the United States to produce maple sap. It is all about the high elevation (and again, trust me, it was high!).
A tap w/ rubber tubbing
Look for the hikers in the background
Due to the steep slopes, the family is able to use gravity to pull sap down through tubing.
The traditional method is to use buckets, but they said after one year of walking buckets down the hill, they quickly invested in tubes. I don’t blame them!
A traditional bucket tap
After a walk among the trees, we headed back down the path to see their farm animals. According to the owner, in order to make a farm sustainable and profitable, famers must invest in many different projects. Not only does this farm produce maple sap, but also raise pigs, sheep, and chickens. There is even one donkey who keep the coyotes out of the pastures (who knew? but they say it works!). They grow some vegetables in the Spring and are trying to make honey as well.
One of my favorite parts of the day was meeting the farm animals. Aren’t they cute?!
The owner is holding a lamb only a week old!
Sally, the donkey, eating from my hand
There is a lot of steam in the cook house and many vents in the roof. It takes several hours to render the final product. Plus, when the sap begins each Spring, it can come quickly. So sometimes they stay up all night cooking the sap! Lost time is lost syrup is lost income!
Measuring for sugar concentration
Keeping the heat high with wood fuel
And FINALLY…the food! They offered little waffles with fresh syrup along with their own pork sausage as a treat for everyone! Yummy!
What a great way to sell their products! We bought some syrup and some ram sausage. So look forward to some cooking experiments this week!