Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Ides of March

Not Julius Caesar's favourite day, but he has a month and a salad named after him, so I'm not overly empathetic.  Just imagine having the temerity to name a month after yourself?  Not only that, but stick it in the summer, so that people "like" your month, on the Roman equivalent of Facebook no doubt.  To make matters worse, his nephew does the same thing.  Not very original and certainly not an august occasion.  And neither even bother to fix the remaining months, so that the seventh month (September) is actually the ninth month.  I would have stabbed him myself.


While perusing the maple forum, it became apparent that many are experiencing low sugar yields from sap  ( ).  I am wondering if the extremely cold weather in February is the culprit.  Sure enough, my sap registered 2 Brix (2% sugar, on the Brix scale), so I was a little leery about predicting when I could draw off my first batch of maple syrup from the evaporator.  All evaporators are different and obviously the bigger the evaporator, the more sap you need to boil before the first batch of syrup is ready.  My rule of thumb is that I need to boil 600 litres of sap before I get the first batch, about 8 - 10 litres of syrup.  After the first batch (baseline the evaporator) I normally need to boil 400 litres of sap to make 10 litres of syrup (40:1 ratio).  I had run a test boil on Friday afternoon, to check for leaks (found one) and make sure I had all the tools / equipment needed to run the evaporator.  On Sunday I got serious and had a fine boil going by 10:30.  The fine boil kept going and going.  The sap kept pouring in (about 100 litres per hour) and since there are no leaks, the solution in the pans continued to concentrate.  I tested the pans with a refractometer and the rate of concentration was incredibly slow.  After 2 hours of boiling on Friday and 6.5 hours on Saturday, I had added 1100 litres of sap (8.5 hours X 100 litres + 150 litres to initially fill the evaporator) and the finishing pan was only halfway to syrup!  It is a little dispiriting to boil mainly water...

So, I shut down the evaporator and went home.  I will start the boil again tomorrow (Monday) in the hopes of having higher sugar content sap and finally making some maple syrup.


Running continues to improve and I can once again focus on maintaining long runs.  "Long runs" are now 25K - 30K and are the bread and butter of ultra running.  You can cheat on speed (skip them altogether), hills and trails, but you are in for serious pain if you cheat on the long stuff.  Time on your feet.

I am starting to get tired of constantly running roads.  Yes, there is the treadmill and indoor track, but running roads can be unsavoury.  Today, the wind was quite strong and I felt cold, so I thought "how bad can the trails be this time of year?".  Only one way to find out!  So I ran a 7.5K trail run.  It includes a 2.5K section of road, which probably saved my life.  The snow is about a foot deeper than is healthy, for running.  So I post-holed up to my knees for about 3K of the run.  I think my heart rate hit about 300.

I am now in the tricky time of year, where I need to continue increasing my mileage, yet save time and energy for making maple syrup.  I have this bad feeling that even though I am no longer working, it will not be as easy as I envisioned.  I signed up for Sulphur Springs 50K, which will probably sell out soon.  Lee Anne is still debating whether to run the 50M or the 100M.  I need to sign up for Pick Your Poison 50K soon.  This will force me to start running longer, as PYP is 6 weeks away.


No comments:

Post a Comment