Let us go to the sugar camp
While the snow lies on the ground
Live in the birch bark wigwam
All the children and the older folks
While the people are at work.
The school that my children attend has many rich and wonderful traditions associated with the seasons. In the fall, the whole school goes apple picking to a nearby farm in Northboro, MA that does a terrific job not only with apples but with other seasonal fruit picking. In the winter, there are countless activities surrounding Advent and Nativity. But the one seasonal tradition that has eluded us for years is the great late winter/early springtime tradition in New England of maple sugaring. Both the school and our family has attempted to find a farm that both educates children in the art and involves them to some degree in the harvest. I am happy to say that as of today, the search for such a place, at least for our family, is over.
Introducing Turtle Lane Maple Farm, an operation only 10 years in the running, but they have already got their act totally together. The show happens entirely in the sugar house behind the family home where every 30 minutes, owner Farmer Paul restarts a narrative that he somehow never gets tired of telling. Beginning with the history of maple sugaring, how the natives discovered it and passed it on to the European settlers, the inimitable Paul Boulanger entertains as he educates his guests about the art and science behind harvesting a successful crop of yummy maple syrup.
Hardly a monotonous monologue, the 30 minute shpeal (or should we say spile) is frequently interspersed with free samples ranging from the finer (in Farmer Paul’s opinion) B grade dark syrup to the ever popular maple bacon ice cream which is made by a local company using some of Farmer Paul’s crop. Yes, he really does insist on the nomenclature Farmer Paul and ordains all of his many assistants with the same office. Farmer Kathy, his wife, usually tends the register where guests can purchase an assortment of maple products: various grades of syrup, maple sugar, maple candy, and even maple cream. Farmer Mike and other farmers bustle about offering samples and keeping children from harming themselves on the 900 degree evaporator.
The only unfortunate thing is that the maple sugaring season is almost completely over, so there is very little time to catch the show this year. But mark your calendars for February 2014, like these guys on Facebook, and maybe even start a little operation like this yourself. Being around entrepreneurs like Paul Boulanger makes a person think that anything is possible…