Sugaring season comes to an end but family traditions continue - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sugaring season comes to an end but family traditions continue

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With the warmer weather finally getting here another sugaring season comes to an end.

"I always look forward to sugaring, it's the first crop of the year," said Harold Howrigan, a sugar maker.

It's a family tradition on the Howrigan farm going back to the 1870s. Now three brothers, Mike, Lawrence and Harold, along with their sons, run the family farm and the sugaring operation.

It's a blend of old ways and the new. It's a labor of love but also a business. The Howrigans tap 20,000 trees on 1,200 acres of land. Most of their crop will be sold as wholesale; just a small percentage will be retail. This year it's been a race against Mother Nature, the sugaring season is about two weeks shorter than normal.

"We had some teaser runs, and then we had some 25 below weather where we had to do some repairs in the woods because of the freezing cold," said Howrigan.

From around 500,000 to 700,000 gallons of sap will flow to the sugarhouse this season. Now the weather is almost ideal for boiling with freezing nights and warm days, but this will be the Howrigan's last weekend of producing the sweet stuff. Soon the days will get too warm for the sap to flow.

It's kind of a race against time, you see, the sap has about 1.5 percent sugar content that means it takes 60 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup.

In a good year the family farm will produce 10,000 to 15,000 gallons of syrup. Howrigan thinks this will be an average year because they're working harder on the short season.

Sugaring season is a time Howrigan loves.

"Sugaring season is always a time the whole family gets together," said Howrigan.

This weekend the family tradition continues.

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