“Sugar making time was looked forward to with pleasant anticipation by the young people,” writes George Benson Kuykendall in a family geneaology published in 1919. His uncle, Isaac Kuykendall, purchased a 670 acre farm near Huttons, Garrett County, MD in 1881.
“It came along in the early spring when there were clear days and frosty nights and pretty hard freezing, but the days were warmer, with sunshine that started the sap flowing. In the groves of ‘sugar trees’ was the sugar camp, where the sugar makers camped and boiled down the sap. When ‘sugar weather’ came around, the trees were tapped by boring auger holes in them.
Photo caption reads: Foster Yost, owner of the sugar maple grove, is pouring sugar water from a metal collection keeler into a large metal tank. (This sugar grove and farm, located on the Brethren Church Road, is now owned by John Schlosnogle.)Pat is the grey horse and Fred is the black.
“Tubes or spiles were then inserted to conduct the sap to the sap trough. The sap trough was made by cutting a small green maple log or stick of wood into lengths two feet long and splitting them through the middle, then digging out the wood on the split side with an axe and adze. These troughs were set under the drip of the spiles to catch the ‘sugar water.’
“When our forefathers first began maple sugar making, they boiled the sap in any kettles or pots they might have, brass or copper being preferable. Later, they made long, shallow box-vats of sheet iron which were placed on a long, low furnace partly made of masonry, on which the vats were placed. The sugar troughs when full of sap were emptied into the vat or the kettles and a fire kept up to evaporate the water, while, from time to time, the scum was skimmed from the surface.
“There was great fun in sugar making time, every stage of the process being enjoyed from the very beginning until the finished product was in cakes of sugar or vessels of maple syrup. Our good old great-grandmothers broke holes in the small ends of eggs, emptied their contents and then filled the shells with thick, granulated syrup to make Easter sugar-eggs for the children; and small cakes of sugar were moulded in receptacles of various shapes and sizes.
“When a kettle of syrup was boiled down to a suitable consistency, the ‘sugaring off’ process was gone through with to make the delicious old fashioned maple sugar. Those were sweet times, indeed, for everybody concerned in making maple sugar. Every step of the process was watched by them with frequent libations of the fresh sap–that which had been boiled to a more syrupy consistence, and with scraping of the kettles for the sweet, sticky maple wax.”
History of the Kuykendall Family Since Its Settlement in Dutch New York in 1646
George Benson Kuykendall
Kilham Stationery & Printing CO. Portland, OR, 1919.
related post: When the wind’s in the west, the sap runs bestcomments