Tonight Beth and I went to Agway, a farm supply store. I wanted to see if they had any maple syruping buckets, lids, and taps. I found two things. First, they do carry that kind of stuff, but they were sold out. Second, they carry farm toys. That would include things like die cast metal International Harvester Farmall tractors (but no Farmall Cub like Dad used to have). It would also include plastic horses, barns, fencing, stables, etc, and that pretty much sent Beth into a drool-fest.
She wanted to spend her money and I mean right now. But she didn’t have it with her, and I wanted her to learn something about impulse buying. I insisted that she wait until she got home, think about it, and see how much money she had (I didn’t know).
Turns out she has less than any of the toys she wanted cost. I don’t know if that blunted her desire for any of them though. She’ll have to save her allowance, and that might make her think about it a little more before buying the first thing she sees.
Back to the tractors. Dad had a 1949 Farmall Cub that he bought back in the mid-70’s. I think it was the first vehicle I ever drove. After he bought it, he spent a couple of weeks in my uncle’s shop overhauling it. The only thing I know that was still wrong with it when he got finished was that it had a broken tooth on second gear, so when it was in second, it made a bit of noise. I really liked that tractor, and now days I see them on Craigslist for $2500-$3500 or so, and… I want one, even though I have no use for one. It’s a little easier for me to resist an impulse buy when it adds up to four digits (my toys cost more than Beth’s).
And now back to the maple syrup. Last year I knew of only one maple on all my property that was big enough to tap, so I tapped it using a bucket, lid, and tap I borrowed from Ken. I don’t remember how much sap I got from it, but I had a late start. It boiled down to about a pint of syrup. I’m not going to save any money making my own syrup, and frankly, I don’t know how anyone does. For one tap, I was able to boil it down on the stove, but other people have huge evaporator pans that sell on Craiglist for three to four digits. It would take a lot of syrup to pay for that. And then there’s the sap collecting, firewood gathering (I assume that any property with enough maples to make syrup will also have plenty of firewood lying around for the gathering), the boiling down (30 or 40:1) and then the bottling and selling. It seems to me that that’s just a lot of work, and the last time I checked maple syrup sold for $13.00 per quart. I just don’t see how anyone makes money doing that.
I have another maple near my syrup tree that’s almost big enough. They are supposed to be ten inches in diameter and this one is maybe nine. Just as a watched pot never boils, it will prolly take another decade for this maple to add another inch of diameter, but I’m not in a hurry. Even though it would double my syrup output. Over the summer I found another tree up by the frog pond that might be big enough too. Well, if it is big enough , it’s only barely big enough. I haven’t measured it (and it’s a lot easier to measure the circumference than the diameter). If it’s not big enough yet, then I guess I’m already waiting a decade, and it’ll likely take that long anyhow.
I may stop at the Agway in Concord this week sometime, or I might not. If I don’t, then I guess I’ll miss a season. It’s already past starting time, and I don’t know how long the overnight temperatures will continue to dip below the freezing mark. So if I do act, it looks like I’m set for another pint! That would just about pay for a bucket ($5.99) and a tap ($1.50). Move over Donald Trump!