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The Old Sugar Shanty

Updated on September 8, 2012

Grandma Rood's Painting


Maple Syrup Will Always be a Treat

The maple syrup industry sure has changed over the years, but he sweet aroma which fills the early spring air will never escape time. My memories of the old fashion maple syrup business is forever in my heart when I think of my Uncle Ervin's Sugar Shanty.

Inspired By a Snow Storm

Back in 1984 a heavy snow fell on the Southern Tier Of New York State were my Uncle Ervin had his Sugar Shanty.  The old Sugar Shanty was not far from where my Grandma Rood lived.  She could see it plainly from her living room window.  Grandma loved to paint pictures of things that were pretty.  The night after the heavy snow my uncle was busy boiling sap for his maple syrup production.  The old Sugar Shanty had seen its better days and was beginning to take on a rustic look.  But the light shining from it's windows against the snow gave it an awesome view.

Grandma painted many pictures of the same scene.  Her family all wanted one.  I think her kids and grandkids all have one of these treasures.  As with many of her paintings they become a family heirloom to be handed down for generations.

Sugar Bush

My Uncle Ervin had a large Sugar Bush. A Sugar Bush is a group of Maple trees. The Maple syrup season runs from February-April depending on Mother Nature. It takes freezing temperatures and warm sunny days to make the sap run. The Maple trees are tapped by drilling a hole in the trunk of the tree and placing a spiel (spout) in the hole. This tap will only be used one season as the tree will seal itself closed and a new hole will be drilled in another spot for the next year. The spiel has a hook that holds a sap bucket with lid on it. Uncle Ervin used his tractor with a wagon to haul a large tank on it which he placed the sap in. Trees that weren't easily reached had tubing running down to flow into a storage tank. The sap flowed better on some days then others. It had to be gathered every day. The sap had to be kept cold or it would spoil. Even when kept cold it needed to be processed within a couple days for fear of spoiling.

Old Time Maple Syrup Production

Inside my Uncle Ervin's Sugar Shanty he had a huge arch made out of cement blocks he burned firewood in. He placed long narrow rectangle shaped evaporating pans over the fire to boil the Maple sap down into syrup. It was a long dragged out process. The continuous boiling of the sap was needed to complete the process as well as keeping sap added to the pans as it boiled down.

He filled large plastic drums with the syrup which was sold bulk to the Log Cabin Syrup Company. He also sold Maple syrup in smaller containers for his local customers. His wife, My Aunt Lila would process the syrup down even further in her kitchen and make maple cream. She also made maple sugar in the shape of maple leaves. It was always a special event to be there during the Maple syrup season.


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    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 5 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      I miss the good ole days, too. I guess time slows down for nobody, but it sure seems to be going faster these days. Thanks for stopping by, ContradictionAmI.

    • ContradictionAmI profile image

      ContradictionAmI 5 years ago from Southern California

      Okay, my mouth is watering now! I want one of those maple leaf candies made from the syrup! I loved your story...and the photo of the painting. Although I have no experiences with maple syrup production, your story took me back to times in my childhood when things were a lot simpler (for the children in the family at least). I miss those snow days when "the world" was blanketed in white.

    • Diana Lee profile image

      Diana L Pierce 6 years ago from Potter County, Pa.

      These were memories of the 80's. Uncle Ervin sold the place back in the mid 90's. He and my grandmother are both gone now but they left us a lot of good memories.

    • C.R. Stone profile image

      C.R. Stone 6 years ago from East-Bolton

      Must have been a nice sugar bush with good times and lots of stories. Still operational?