April: The Generous + Miraculous Maple
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Now is the time that all things just begin to feel alive. As the earth slooooowly warms and wakes, the tickle starts at the root, a slow thaw and percolating wickness, a quickening, greening flow of awakening coursing upwards. This is true for our own precious bodies, alive in the core and capable of so much sweetness, and this too is the spring song of the sugar maple.
Sugaring off is the first "crop" of the season at Two Pony, and the ritual of collecting and rendering the maple sap into syrup is one of the most pure and joyful expressions of in-land-harmony available to us as farmers. Two Pony's 40 acres used to be all open farmed in cattle pasture, and as Lisa (and KP, of course) have been thoughtfully re-stewarding it back to field and food forests for 30 years, the maple woods have expanded from ONE sugar maple in the 90's to a network of about 30 tappable trees. Lisa says that seeing them come into tappable age has been like seeing children become teenagers: all of a sudden the gawky sapling vibe is all grown up maple beauty.
To the uninitiated (or anyone who didn't covetously aspire to eat warm syrup snow candy after reading the sugaring off scenes in "Little House In The Big Woods"): in the spring, when temperatures begin their dance of warm-in-the-day-but-still-below-freezing-at-night the sap in all trees starts to run. Maple sap is the subtly sweet clear life-water that travels from root to branch and back again to jump start the spring greening of the maple tree. Trees are then "tapped"—Lisa drills a small downward angled hole with a hand drill and tap-tap-taps a metal spile into the tree and the sap drip-drip-drips out (note for all fellow tree huggers: tapping the trees does not harm them and they can be re-tapped year after year with no adverse effect). When sap comes out it looks like this:
You can actually drink it in the raw form just like this straight from the tree. It is delicately flavored, with an incredibly fresh, sweet, and rare taste dipped straight from the bucket, BUT the real sweetness happens after the sap has been rendered down. Two Pony sugars off their syrup the old(ish) fashioned way: outside in a shallow pan over a constantly burning wood fire for days at a time:
Depending on the age and size of the tree and the season's weather, each sugar maple tree can produce 10-20 gallons of sap in a season. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup. This season, the trees have been uncharacteristically slooooow, which makes us feel pensive on the weight of what climate shifts and stressors are affecting the marrow of these giving trees AND extra deeply grateful for the generosity of the trees, always, in sharing this sweetness.
March's share is all about that sweetness, about the gratitude of ritual, and a reminder to keep front of mind the work it takes to make something seemingly so simple and ubiquitous like "maple syrup". Also: unlike anything that comes in a plastic jug, the real deal stuff is transcendently sweet and outrageously delicious.
In this month's share you'll find all the recipes, tools, makings, and fixings to take one of Lisa's favorite rituals (the syrup harvest) and elevate the practice one of Anna's favorite rituals (the weekend pancake breakfast). We think you'll *flip* over it.
Happy April, Members. Remember that the miracle of slowing down to savor makes things all the sweeter.
Anna, Lisa, Ruby, Oak, and the whole Foundry Family + Two Pony Crew
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