Super Senior: Paul Percy

Published: Mar. 10, 2022 at 6:32 PM EST
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STOWE, Vt. (WCAX) - At Paul Percy’s sugarhouse in Stowe, the season is picking up steam.

“Oh, it’s going to be a good one,” Percy said. “I always think that at the beginning of the season!” Frigid nights and warmer days -- ideal conditions for the sap to flow from the maple trees. “If we’re boiling sap, I’m usually here to watch it.”

The 81-year-old has been sugaring for a long time. “When I bought this, I was 21 years old. Bought it on my 21st birthday,” he explained. The $15,000 purchase included 115 acres with a sugarhouse and all the equipment. The dairy farmer went on to buy more land in Stowe, making him the 3rd largest landowner in this wealthy tourist town, and until recently he milked at two locations.

But that all changed last month when his century-old barn went up in flames. “It was gone, it was gone before the fire department got here,” Percy told WCAX after the fire. The inferno leveled the structure, killing 130 cows. A piece of machinery is believed to be the cause of the fire. Now, there’s no sign a barn was ever there.

“It’s sort of amazing, there’s a huge barn here and all of a sudden, there’s nothing,” Percy said. He and his son Ryan are still deciding the future of the property overlooking the village. But what is certain -- Percy still loves working his land.

Paul Percy: I’m surprised you haven’t asked me how long I’m going to keep going.

Reporter Joe Carroll: Well, how about that?

Paul Percy: I have no idea, but I still feel pretty good and still go, so I do it.

Back at the sugarhouse, it’s Percy’s favorite time of year. “I wouldn’t want to do it year-round, but I love doing it in the spring of the year,” he said.

Percy and his crew drilled 20,000 taps in their maples. He hopes to make 7,000 gallons of syrup this season. “I used to be the only one in Stowe that did it, now there are three big ones,” he said. “But today, you can make money with it. Everybody’s jumped into it, everybody is making maple syrup.”

Reporter Joe Carroll: Well, obviously, you’ve been successful.

Paul Percy: You know, there are lots of ways to measure success, but I measure it being happy with my life.

It’s still early in the season and the sap is still at a trickle. Percy will be back tomorrow. Even after the recent setback, the farm life is pretty sweet. “I don’t dread Monday. It makes no difference what day of the week it is,” he said. Every day is funday, yup.”

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