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December 03, 2016
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Keeping up a tradition; Making real maple syrup

Taking a moment out from a farm tour at Augusta Acres Farm in Wayne County on Saturday are Rachel Phinney, left, this year’s alternate Pennsylvania Maple Sweetheart; farm owners Sue and Todd Klikus; and Tracy Robinson, the new, reigning PA Maple Sweetheart. They are standing in front the farm’s sugarhouse, where maple sap is boiled and reduced to produce maple syrup.
TRR photos by Jane Bollinger

Todd fielded questions from the crowd that gathered around his hand-built evaporator in the sugarhouse, where it was on display for all to inspect, which they did with great interest. A couple of fellows even got down on their hands and knees to peer into the firebox. Just a few feet away, two walls were lined with wood, stacked and waiting to fuel a roaring blaze in the firebox when the sap runs again 2014. “I really believe in dry wood,” Todd said.

Those attending generously shared their experience, advice and information, apparently not viewing each other as competitors but as comrades in a common cause.

Each year Todd does something to improve or upgrade his operation, and for this, he took a bit of teasing from the crowd after Sue said she’d like to see the operation remain small. “What I really love are the sensory things about making maple syrup,” she said, “the steam and the smell and the watching it cook. For me that’s what it’s all about, and I just hope someday Todd gets satisfied here.” Knowingly, everyone laughed. Many have been in Todd’s shoes themselves as their own maple operations grew with their passion for making syrup. Just then, someone in the crowd piped up, “Maybe you’ve seen the bumper sticker that says ‘You’ll never lose him to another woman, you’ll lose him to another evaporator.” Everyone laughed. Everyone was having a good time.

After a brief tour of the rest of the farm—horses, pigs, chickens, ducks, guinea hens, bees (in an unusual “top-bar” hive) and more, everyone piled onto the bus and headed out to continue their tour.

All around, it was a sweet fall day for these visitors to the Upper Delaware River Valley.

[Editor’s note: a website with a lot of information can be found at www.tapmytrees.com.]