Super Senior: Platt Herrick

Published: Mar. 25, 2021 at 2:01 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 25, 2021 at 7:53 PM EDT
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PAWLET, Vt. (WCAX) - The sounds of spring are sweet at Platt Herrick’s sugarhouse in Pawlet.

He runs the operation with his eldest son, Platt Jr., affectionately known as ‘Bony.’ “No, never been skinny,” commented Bony.

The 91-year-old sold his dairy farm years ago but kept 100 acres for sugaring. Bony is now the 5th generation to work this land. “He’s probably in better shape than I am,” Bony said.

Both he and his son have accents as thick as their syrup. The operation is a snapshot from the past. They heat with wood, there’s no tubing, and they still collect the sap with buckets. It all boils down to this -- 40 gallons of sap are needed to produce one gallon of maple syrup.

“Oh It’s getting there, it’s still just under,” Herrick explained, as he closely monitored the evaporator arch.

Reporter Joe Carroll: You still enjoy this?

Platt Herrick: Oh yeah, yeah. That’s why we do it. We don’t do it to make money, we do it for the soured fun of it!

‘Bony’ Herrick: Wouldn’t be here if we didn’t.

The wholesale price for maple syrup has soured. “Two dollars a pound translates to $22 a gallon,” Herrick said with a laugh. Their work is made more difficult by mega-operations, some with over 100,000 taps, that flood the market with syrup. The Herricks have scaled back their operation. At one time they put out 3,000 buckets each season, now they’re down to 500. Last year they made about 200 gallons of the sweet stuff. “Most people prefer the darker grade. I do myself.”

Except for the sounds of the crackling of the wood fire and the evaporator, the father/son team steams along, mostly in silence. “We don’t talk too much,” Herrick said. “We know what we supposed to do... so we do it!”

Like their syrup, they’re pure Vermont. “Will be out here all day,” Herrick said.

“Yeah, probably till dark,” added Bony.

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