We lost my Grandfather, Walter Senn at the age of 92.5 last week. Its a tough one for my entire family and for our sugarhouse. The man meant so much and was such a big part of our sugaring operation that it will never be the same. This season we have shed a lot of blood, sweat and mostly tears. Below is the sugaring portion of the Eulogy I gave at his funeral, and then I’ll get into sugaring.
Grandpa was a huge part of me and Dad’s maple sugaring business. Really without him, I’m not sure we would have made it that first year we began sugaring on Page Road, when Amber Ridge Maple was born. Grandpa hauled sap day and night that year, trip after trip, while dad and I worked full time and boiled all night. Grandpa truly loved sugaring. He had been helping sugar since my dad got started on his own 30 years ago, and one of the last things him and I talked about when he was in the hospital, was how proud he was that it all started with dad tapping the trees on his land. He was so proud of our sugarhouse that I dare say he has brought most of the people here today to visit it. Thank god we got another 10 years with him after he was almost killed when we were building it. A rafter fell, knocking him out cold for about 5 minutes and breaking his nose, but he was to far to tough to let that be the end of him. Perhaps he was so proud of our sugarhouse because his entire family helped build it from the ground up. He will be so missed every time fresh maple syrup pours out of the evaporator. Grandpa cared so much that even at the end, when a few faint words took all the energy he could muster, he was asking how many gallons of syrup we were up to this season.
Then there was the actual maple syrup. How he loved our maple syrup. Really, I’m not sure anyone in the world actually loved maple syrup as much as grandpa. For him it was not just a sweetener for your pancakes. It was a beverage. Not one to be sipped either. Upon entering the sugarhouse he immediately would grab his personal syrup mug, fill it up and drink it, and then 15 minutes later pour another. Back when he was hauling sap he would come in and have a mug the second he got back, some days he busily hauled 7 or 8 loads, but never, missed a drink. Walt’s syrup mug will live forever at the sugarhouse.
Thanks for all you have done for us Grandpa.
On the sugaring front, things have been slow. I anticipated a bigger week last week, but the weather just wasn’t perfect for good runs. Regardless it seemed as though every sugar maker I spoke with thought it should have run much better than it did. It has definitely been a strange and unpredictable year. I really can’t say why it didn’t run as well as you’d think. If it were simply tap hole drying I would have anticipated that my new tubing and areas with new drops to have run better but they did not. We still made about 1,100 gallons in four small boils to bring our total up to 12,100. Just shy of last year though we have more taps. We are currently at .46 gallons per tap and think we will hit our target of a half gallon per tap.
The weather has turned extremely miserable the last three days and it looks like it will continue throughout the week. It should get warm enough to get some small runs and keep plugging away at our syrup total. The flavor continues to be excellent and we have been making high Amber Rich to fairly light fancy. We are still getting a lot of niter as well. Sugar content has been between 1.4% and 1.8%. I am really interested to see what happens at the end of the week when the warmer 50’s get here. Being so late in April it will end the season soon, but I am hoping that is what our trees need to get a hard run before that happens. We still have snow just about everywhere in our woods.
Its been a really tough and long season so I am hoping we hit our goal and then it gets really warm and just ends it. Ill report back next week wither way. If you are done sugaring I hope you had a good year. Thanks to all of our customers who have bought syrup from our family run sugarhouse. If you knew my grandfather leave a note. I’d love to hear your stories of him, and if you’d like to get a copy of the full Eulogy to learn more about what a great man he was just let me know.