The sweet tradition of gathering sap from maple trees and boiling away the water to make syrup can be traced back centuries. Howard Boyden was hard at work this week, processing sap in his steamy Boyden Brothers Sugarhouse in Conway, Massachusetts. I chase him around the building, as he feeds the wood-fired evaporator. This process has changed through the years, he says.
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Updated at 2 p.m. on Monday, March 23, 2015
Howard Boyden burned a few extra calories Sunday. While boiling, a spark went up the chimney and ignited the woodshed attached to his sugarhouse. Boyden used a garden hose to keep the blaze from spreading until volunteer firefighters arrived. This afternoon, he told me a third of the building is gone, but most of his equipment is fine, as is the syrup.
I’m standing in the driveway of my sugarhouse. Right now there are sixteen vehicles that belong to volunteers, and by this afternoon that sugarhouse is going to be closed in and you would hardly know that there was a fire here.
Oh, it’s amazing [news]. Sugarhouses don’t get saved. When they get a fire that big, its pretty amazing that it melted the roofing right off, all the way to the evaporator room, and the flames were shooting right straight up in the air by thirty feet. It was pretty amazing.
And the turnout of friends, neighbors and family that are here is absolutely humbling. I’ve always been on the other side of these ‘help out’ things, so this is, this is a new experience for me.
Boyden says the maple sap is going to run Tuesday, and by Thursday he’ll be boiling it into syrup.