That sweet smell is in the air-- maple sugaring season is under way. The Bushee family has been sugaring in Danby since the 1840s. Third generation maple producer Ken Bushee has kept his family's operation going and likes to tap into his memories of days gone by.
"Our sugarhouse at that point was behind the house," he said. "We had no electricity and no water and no concrete floors. You went and boiled and had lantern lights."
Decades later, the sweet stuff is still flowing, with newer equipment, more lines and an earlier start to the season.
"Well, they used to figure Town Meeting Day. I can remember a good many years where I went and voted, and came back and started tapping trees," Bushee said.
To get sap running, Bushee says the days need to be warm and the nights below freezing. And in the last couple of years, it's been too warm.
"I can always remember tromping through the snow," Bushee said.
Maple farmers across the state took a huge hit last year after an unusually warm March. Bushee says they were only able to produce two-thirds of their normal yield, and high temps remain a worry this season.
"Our biggest problem is going to be at the end of the month-- how quickly it warms up. Like last year it came warm and stayed warm," Bushee said.
Bushee says what's happening under the golden dome might hurt the liquid gold business, too. State lawmakers are considering dropping the current grading system used for maple syrup to adopt an international one. Bushee says it could hurt the reputation for pure Vermont maple syrup.
"If they are all going to be the same, let's call them the same. If we are going to have to make a more dense syrup, then either bring their standards up to ours. I hate to lower our standards, I really do," Bushee said.
No matter the challenge, Bushee says his family will continue the tradition. They just hope Mother Nature plays along.
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