Daily Update - 2014

Hello to our faithful maple syrupers!

Here's where you can find regular updates on our need for volunteers throughout the syruping season.

Saturday, April 19 - Celebrate Easter by Collecting Sap!

The sap has been dripping like mad the last few days so we are definitely going to need help collecting sap on Sunday. Swap your Easter best for your boots and fleece and work of your feast in the woods!

Sap Collection: Sunday, April 20th starting at 3 pm. Please don't come earlier as there won't be anyone there to open the shack until late in the afternoon. How long we go depends on how many people show up but we usually aren't out there much past 5pm. The road should be fine to drive on and but be prepared for some snow still in the woods!

Volunteers: Please be sure to be recording your hours you helped during this season! If you didn't record them in the book at the shack, use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: I'm hoping for this in my Easter basket!  

Thursday, April 17 - Short Sap Collection Today and the Tentative Easter Weekend Schedule

The best thing about all the snow yesterday was how it will help extend our syruping season by at least a few days! We know that most CSB/SJU students are leaving today for Easter break so we hope there are lots of community members out there who can help us out over the next few days!

Below is a tentative schedule for the holiday weekend. Please watch for updates before you come out to the shack.

Thursday, April 17th: A short and sweet sap collection from 3-4 pm to just cover one area in the woods. The road will be plowed by 3 pm but as always, the best way to not get stuck is to not drive out!

Friday, April 18th: We will be firing up Big Burnie at about 8:00 am and cooking syrup for most of the morning and early afternoon.

Saturday, April 19th: Nothing scheduled this day

Sunday, April 20th: Sap collection at 3:00 pm, bring your Easter guests and work off your dinner!

Volunteers: Please be sure to be recording your hours you helped during this season! If you didn't record them in the book at the shack, use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Looking for a new resource on how to make maple syrup at home? Check out The Sugarmaker's Companion by Michael Farrell. It includes information on making syrup from trees other than maple, including birch and walnut. One of our own staff members was inspired to a few Black Walnut trees in her yard this spring...we'll let you know how it tastes!

Tuesday, April 15 - Celebrate tax day collecting maple sap!

Resist the urge to despise the cooler weather this week, and get those taxes done in time to spend the afternoon with us! A few more days and nights of 40s/20s is a small price to pay for the many more gallons of maple sap the trees will share with us this week. We anticipate a lot of activity out at the sugar shack throughout the week and weekend - both collecting and cooking, so watch for more details!

Sap Collecting: Calling all volunteers at 3 p.m. TODAY! No experience necessary. Come out to the sugar shack and someone will be there to help you get started. We estimate that there is an average of at least a gallon per tree in most places!

Syrup Cooking: We won't be cooking today, but expect Big Burnie to be fired up this week - likely Wednesday and Friday? We'll confirm soon!

Maple Syrup in the news: Check out this story of the Passamaquoddy tribe in Maine. They're hoping a little sweet success will bring relief from joblessness and poverty in their community.

Saturday, April 12 - Sap Collection and Syrup Cooking SUNDAY!

A great group of volunteers came out on Friday and we were able to collect everything...the entire woods! The good news is, there's more sap in the bags and buckets and more to be cooked to golden deliciousness, so...

Sap Collection: We need help collecting sap SUNDAY starting at 2 p.m.! Meet out at the sugar shack, there will be people around to show you how to help.

Syrup Cooking: Big Burnie will be fired up and cooking Sunday afternoon as well. Stop by to help or just check it out and see the process!

Volunteers: Please be sure to record the hours you've helped this season! If you didn't record them at the shack, use the online form. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine the lists at the end of the season.

Friday, April 11 - Syrup Cooking and Sap Collection TODAY!

The warm weather significantly slowed - but did not stop! - sap flow in the woods, so I guess we got the best of both worlds this week. Who knows how long the weather will allow the sap season to continue, so join us at the sugar shack today!

Sap Collection: We need help collecting sap TODAY at 3 p.m. Meet out at the sugar shack, there will be people around to show you how to help.

Syrup Cooking: Big Burnie will be fired up and cooking this afternoon and into the evening. Stop by to help or just check it out and see the process!

Volunteers: Please be sure to record the hours you've helped this season! If you didn't record them in the book at the shack, use the online form. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine the lists at the end of the season.

Don't make these all-star helpers do all the work!

young syrup volunteers

Wednesday, April 9 - NO SAP COLLECTION TODAY!

While we are all enjoying the warm weather, it has significantly slowed sap production. We ARE NOT collecting sap this afternoon as we had previously thought.

The trees are still dripping, but not as much since we haven't been freezing at night these last few nights. We'll be watching the weather and the bags and buckets in the woods, but our best guess right now is that we'll collect sap again on Friday.

We'll keep you posted! Enjoy the warm days...

Tuesday, April 8 - Sap Collection on Wednesday!

We are up to just over 70 gallons of syrup made and more is cooking in Big Burnie today! The sap is dripping pretty good today so we will let it be for today and collect it on Wednesday. It is hard to say how long this season will last so if you are interested in participating this year, don't wait too much longer!!

Sap Collection: We need help collecting sap on Wednesday at 3pm! What a great way to spend a 70 degree day, out in the woods listening to the frogs and sandhill cranes while collecting maple sap. Meet out at the sugar shack, there will be people around to show you how to help.

Syrup Cooking: Big Burnie is cooking away today! Stop out at the shack any time today to watch her in action and learn how sap turns into syrup.

Volunteers: Please be sure to be recording your hours you helped during this season! If you didn't record them in the book at the shack, use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Are you up on your maple syrup facts? Try this quiz from Braingle on maple syrup. This syruper did very well, even though some of their facts are slightly out of date and slightly inaccurate. Bonus points if you can tell me which ones!

Monday, April 7 - Sap Collection and Syrup Cooking on Monday!

Finally! Things are starting to wake up in the woods! Big Burnie is cooking syrup already and we will need help collecting sap this afternoon. Join in on the fun, who knows how long things will last!

Sap Collection: We need help collecting sap on Monday at 3pm! It froze hard in the woods last night and with the warm temperatures today, the bags and buckets should be full this afternoon. Meet out at the sugar shack, there will be people around to show you how to help.

Syrup Cooking: Big Burnie is cooking away today! Stop out at the shack any time today to watch her in action and learn how sap turns into syrup.

Festival Volunteers: Please be sure to record your hours you helped during the festival (or any other time)! If you didn't record them in the book at the shack, use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Looking for other people as into maple syrup as you are? Check out the Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers Association website and their latest newsletter by our very own Steve Saupe!

Saturday, April 5 - Sap Collection on Sunday!

Another great crowd for another great festival today! Over 600 people enjoyed the sunny day out at the sugar shack. As always, this event wouldn't happen without all the wonderful volunteers who help out. Thank you to everyone who helped for making the day run smoothly.

Sap Collection: We need help collecting sap on Sunday at 2 pm! We did lots of collection during the festival but need more help on Sunday. You are encouraged to walk out to the shack, as we had to push a number of vehicles out of the mud today! Directions to the sugar shack are available here, just show up at the shack and there will be people around to show you how to help. How long we need help depends on how many people show up, but we anticipate being out there until about 5 pm or so.

Festival Volunteers: Please be sure to record your hours you helped during the festival (or any other time)! If you didn't record them in the book at the shack, use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Mike Leedahl is one of our amazing volunteers who demonstrates Native American maple syruping techniques during our festivals. One of his other many talents is writing and his latest entry on his 'Black Powder Beagles' blog is called 'The Liquid Gold of the Avon Hills.' Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 3 - NO Sap Collection Today

Snow. Again. Not much else to say except the weather for the next few days after the storm looks great for sap flow!! Maybe we will actually get to start collecting and cooking syrup next week.  

Festival Volunteers: I still need more people to help with the festival this coming Saturday, April 5, especially for the 2:30-5:00 shift. Please use this form to submit your preferences as soon as possible.  

Sap Collection: It didn't get very cold last night and with the predicted snow getting closer by the minute, we are not going to collect sap today or Friday. Then there should be plenty for our guests to collect on Saturday!

Recording Hours: The only way we can thank you very sweetly for your work at the end of the season is if you record your hours! Please either record your hours in the binder in the sugar shack or use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: How long into the NPR story were you a believer?

Tuesday, April 1 - Still Need Volunteers for Next Festival

If you have signed up to help for the festival this weekend, you should have received an email from me earlier today with the schedule and details. If you submitted a form for this first festival and did not receive that email, please email me back. We are still looking for help especially for the 2:30-5:00 pm shift. If you are available and can help, please use this form below to sign up.

Festival Volunteers: I still need more people to help with the festival this coming Saturday, April 5. Please use this form to submit your preferences as soon as possible.  

Sap Collections: Right now we are predicting a sap collection for Thursday afternoon. More details to come.

Recording Hours: The only way we can thank you very sweetly for your work at the end of the season is if you record your hours! Please either record your hours in the binder in the sugar shack or use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Wow! It's a good thing we tap as many trees as we do. Hopefully we will never encounter any exploding maple trees that burst due to extreme pressure building up from a lack of tapping!

Monday, March 31 - Record Setting Festival!

We are still calculating the final numbers but early estimates show that over 1100 people attended our first festival on Saturday. Biggest. Festival. Ever. Thanks so much to all the volunteers and Outdoor U staff who worked hard, stayed late, and did everything they could to help all our participants enjoy their time with us.

Festival Volunteers: I still need a lot more people to help with the festival this coming Saturday, April 5. Please use this form to submit your preferences by the end of the day today.  

Sap Collections: Still waiting for a good flow...maybe in the next day or two??

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: I always love finding other people who get why we pour our heart and soul into making maple syrup. Sam Neumann is an emerging author out of Boulder, Colorado whose book Quitting Cold Stone (And Other Struggles) includes a couple of brilliant paragraphs on how underrated pure maple syrup is.

Thursday, March 27 - Sap Collection on Friday afternoon!

Greetings! See the web version of this email on our daily update page.

There is some sap out in the woods and we would like to get it all collected in time for the festival on Saturday. Please see below with the details on that and the volunteer schedule for Saturday.

Sap Collection: We would like help collecting sap on Friday, March 28th from 3-5 pm. We highly recommend walking out to the sugar shack as the road is still very icy, snowy, and rough. Please dress to be in the snow, mud, and water. There will be someone out at the sugar shack to show you what to do. Please do not come before 3pm!

Festival Volunteers: I am still working on updating the volunteer list for Saturday. To those of you who have emailed me or submitted a form in the last few days, I will get back to you by tomorrow morning. Thanks for your patience!

If you are interested in volunteering for the festival NEXT Saturday, April 5, please use this form to submit your preferences by Monday, March 31.  

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: In honor of the maple syrup cook-off for CSB/SJU students today at 7 pm at McKeown (stop by for some samples!), here is a website with some amazing recipes using real maple syrup!

Tuesday, March 25 - More help needed Saturday afternoon!

If you have signed up to help for the festival this weekend, you should have received an email from Sarah Gainey today with the schedule and details. If you submitted a form for the first festival and did not receive that email, please contact her. We are still looking for help for the 2:30-5:00 pm shift. If you are available and can help, please sign up now!

As the weather warms up this week, we are preparing for our first call for sap collection - likely Thursday or Friday afternoon? Watch for more details.

And Thanks!

Monday, March 24 - Yes, You Can Still Help On Saturday!

The cold weather this weekend kept the sap from flowing in any significant way so there is no sap collection this afternoon. As the forecast calls for a good warm-up beginning this weekend, stay tuned for the first good sap run of the season!

We are still looking for volunteers to help at the Maple Syrup Festival on Saturday. Sign up today using the online form. We'll send out the schedule on Tuesday so you can see the jobs you've been assigned. Celebrate the warmer weather with us this weekend - 40 on Saturday?

Friday, March 21 - Festival Volunteers Still Needed!

The warm weather the past few days has caused the sap to flow some, but not enough to call for help collecting yet. With the temperatures predicted to not be above freezing until the middle of next week, we will just be waiting for the sap to start dripping. But we still need LOTS more people to sign up as volunteers for our festival next Saturday so see below on how to sign up.

Festival Volunteers: Our festivals this year are Saturday, March 29 and April 5 and we always needs lots of help to pull them off. There is a separate form to sign up for each festival-please be sure you are using the correct one!

Saturday, March 29 form is available here, please submit by Monday, March 24
Saturday, April 5 form is available here, please submit by Monday, March 31

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: It may be an old tradition, but research on improving maple syruping methods continues at places of higher learning across the country. Check out this research from the University of Vermont on a new way to collect sap from young trees. Interesting, but I'd rather keep our old trees with their branches on.

Tuesday, March 18 - Festival Volunteers Needed

It is a snowy day in Collegeville today! When the campus closed today at 1:00, we already had a good 6+ inches on the ground with more forecasted for the rest of the day. While the snow may dampen your spirits, anything we can do to prevent a fast spring warm up is good for maple syruping and a good snow cover helps in that way.

Crew Leaders: We are still looking for people who can commit to one or more days of the week for sap collection. Crew Leaders are usually not the ones collecting the sap, but showing other volunteers how to do it. To be eligible to be a crew leader you need to:

-be available one or more days Monday through Friday between 3-5 pm
-attend a training session next week Tuesday 3/25 or Wednesday 3/26 from 3-4 pm DELAYED FROM THIS WEEK DUE TO POOR SAP CONDITIONS THIS WEEK
-after being trained, be comfortable showing other volunteers how to collect sap

If you are interested in being a Crew Leader, please email Sarah.

Festival Volunteers: Our festivals this year are Saturday, March 29 and April 5 and we always needs lots of help to pull them off. There is a separate form to sign up for each festival-please be sure you are using the correct one!

Saturday, March 29 form is available here, please submit by Monday, March 24
Saturday, April 5 form is available here, please submit by Monday, March 31

Recording Hours: The only way we can thank you very sweetly for your work at the end of the season is if you record your hours! Please either record your hours in the binder in the sugar shack or use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Put the snow to good use! 'Sugar on Snow' is a delicious maple syrup treat to make on fresh snow.

Saturday, March 15 - Trees are Tapped! Crew Leaders Needed!

Thanks to everyone who came out to help on Tapping Day today! Almost 200 people helped us put out almost 900 taps in the trees. We could have put out more with the amazing volunteers we had, but ran out of cordless drill batteries. Again, we couldn't have done it without everyone who helped today, thank you!

Crew Leaders: We are looking for people who can commit to one or more days of the week for sap collection. Crew Leaders are usually not the ones collecting the sap, but showing other volunteers how to do it. (see more details here). To be eligible to be a crew leader you need to:
-be available one or more days Monday through Friday between 3-5 pm
-attend a training session on Tuesday March 18 or Wednesday March 19 from 3-4 pm
-after being trained, be comfortable showing other volunteers how to collect sap

If you are interested in being a Crew Leader, please email Sarah.

Sap Collection: For those of you unfamiliar with our process, we will send an email out when we need people to help collect sap. We try to send it out the day before, but sometimes an email will be sent the same day we need help collecting. Sap collection normally takes place in the late afternoon, usually starting after 3 pm and we always have people out at the shack to show new volunteers what to do.

Recording Hours: The only way we can thank you very sweetly for your work at the end of the season is if you record your hours! Please either record your hours in the binder in the sugar shack or use the online form available here. Please do not record the same hours in both places as we will combine these lists at the end of the season.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Temperature conditions determine when sap flows out of the trees. We need nights below freezing and days above freezing for sap flow. Want to know more? Join Outdoor U's MJ Bach at her Thursday Forum presentation 'Saint John's Sweet Tradition: Maple Syrup' this coming Thursday, March 20 from 4:15-5:15 in Quad 346 at SJU. Rumor has it she will be performing her original maple syrup song!

Wednesday, March 12 - Tapping Day Details

Here we go! We are all ready to tap trees this coming Saturday, March 15th. Please see below for details.

Again, to clarify, you DO NOT need to come to the training this Friday afternoon or Saturday morning to help with tapping day. Unless you have heard specifically from me, we are not expecting you at the training. Please just come to tapping day and we will put you to work!

2014 Community Tapping Day
Saturday, March 15th
2:00 - 5:00 pm

-Directions to the sugar shack available here. We ask that you please park on campus and walk out to the sugar shack as the road is very rough, snowy, and many many vehicles have gotten stuck. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the edge of the SJU campus to the sugar shack.
-You do not need any previous experience to help on Tapping Day! We will train you and put you to work! Also, you do not need to let us know if you are coming.
-Dress to be outdoors the entire time in the cold, snow, and mud. The snow is deep in the woods and that's where the trees are we are tapping!!
-There is a portable toilet out at the sugar shack. Bring your own mug for coffee and hot chocolate.
-You do not have to come right at 2:00 pm or stay the entire time. Please note that we may be done early if we have enough help!
-Bring the kids, neighbors, roommates, and friends! Please just be sure they are dressed to be outdoors!
-We are still looking for sturdy cordless drills to use on Saturday (we provide the drill bit). Please email Sarah if you have one we can use.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: According to our records, March 19 is our average first date of sap collection. What will it be this year? Only time will tell...

Friday, March 7 - Looking for Experienced Tree Tappers

The Community Tapping Day is Saturday, March 15th and we hope you can be there! More information about that day will be coming next week! Anyone is welcome to help with Tapping Day, no previous experience is necessary!

In preparation for Tapping Day, we are putting out a call for some more experienced volunteers. We are looking for a group of people who can be our Tapping Day Leaders. These people will be in charge of directing a group of people on the correct way drill the tree, tap in the spile, and hang the bucket/bag on the tree.

You could be one of these people if:
1. you are available Saturday, March 15th from 2-5 pm for Tapping Day
2. you are available Friday, March 14 from 3-4:30 pm OR Saturday, March 15 from 10-11:30 am for a training session
3. you have previous experience tapping trees
4. ideally can provide your own cordless drill (but not required)
5. you love maple syrup with your whole heart (not required but really, why don't you??)

If you are interested in being a Tapping Day Leader, please email Sarah back by Wednesday, March 12th the following information:
-Have you helped at one of our Tapping Days before?
-Can you provide a drill?
-Confirm which training session you can be at 3/14 at 3pm or 3/15 at 10am

Again, anyone is welcome to help with Tapping Day, we are just looking for a small group of experienced volunteers to help during that day as Tapping Day Leaders. Only the Tapping Day Leaders need to come to the training session.

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: We aren't the only people ready to make syrup this spring! Check out this calendar for a list of other maple syruping events around the state.  

Monday, February 24 - The Start to the Season...

While it may not feel like spring will be here anytime soon, our preparations for the upcoming 2014 maple syruping season are underway! 

Due to the weather predictions for the next week or so, we are changing the date of our Community Tapping Day. Originally scheduled for March 9, we will now be tapping trees on Saturday, March 15th. Please see the website and upcoming emails for details. We hope you can join us for a fun and work-filled day!

Sarah's Syrup Snippets: Our 2013 syruping season was recording breaking in many ways. See the 2013 Annual Report by Steve Saupe to relive the amazing season.