Saturday, March 28, 2015

Sepia Saturday #272 - Agriculture - Making Maple Syrup at the Deanholm Farm

This photo of my grandmother and mother was taken on the Dean family farm (Deanholm Farm) in North Hately, Quebec.  The farm was founded on land purchased by my 2nd great-grandfather, John Dean, on May 1, 1868 and is still in the family today.  My grandmother, Marjorie Elizabeth Dean Smith was born on the farm in 1904.  During WWII my mother and grandmother spent a great deal of time on the farm as my grandfather, some of his family and my grandmother's brother were all overseas.  Then, as now, the farm was primarily a dairy farm, but also had a sugar bush.

For those of you unfamiliar with maple syrup production, a sugar bush is a stand of maple trees (usually sugar maple or black maple) which produce the sap used to make maple syrup.  Trees are tapped in early spring and buckets, like the one my grandmother is holding above, are hung to collect the sap (modern methods by some syrup farmers use a network of pipelines and gravity for collection).  At Deanholm farm the sap is collected every day or couple of days depending on how fast it is running. The buckets are emptied into the vat you see above on a sled with runners for snow and wheels when there was none.  Today the wagon is pulled by a tractor, then it was pulled by two horses who were always named Prince and King. The collected sap is then taken to the Sugar Shack, where the vat is emptied into a huge stove to be boiled down into syrup, filtered, graded and canned.  The whole process from tapping to canning is known as sugaring.

1980 would have been roughly the last time I was at the farm during sugaring season. The first photo below is me hamming it up for the camera, the second is me and a cousin on what was probably the tractor that pulled us around that day collecting sap.

Thank you for stopping by.  Don't forget to visit the other Sepia Saturday participants.