Maple Tale: A Brief History of Fortune Farms - theHumm March 2020
Maple Tale: A Brief History of Fortune Farms - theHumm March 2020
By Ray Fortune
Once again the maple syrup season is here. After a wet dreary January it’s great to look forward to Spring and the taste of fresh maple syrup.
This will be the 47th year of making maple syrup at Fortune Farms. But it all started, in the Fortune family, about 1835 when Francis Fortune, my great grandfather, homesteaded in Leeds County. There is a record in the 1851 census of 60 pounds of maple sugar being made on his farm in that year. By 1861 that had increased to 600 pounds. In those days maple syrup was stored as blocks of sugar and reconstituted as syrup by melting in warm water. I suspect when no one was looking the children went into the pantry to chip off a piece of maple sugar for a delicious treat. My grandfather and father also made maple sugar and maple syrup. With the help of our children, we began making syrup in 1969 as a hobby and then in 1973 as a business here at Fortune Farms.
Our grandchildren are the sixth generation of our family to make maple syrup. That’s a span of about 170 years. We hope that in spite of global warming our great-grandchildren will also experience the thrill of making maple syrup.
You may recall that I wrote a poem for theHumm about Mr. Blake making maple syrup in the traditional manner with buckets and a boiling kettle. This is a poem about the more modern method now in use at Fortune Farms:
The snow was gently falling
as we headed to the bush.
It’s warmer in the forecast,
so it’s tapping with a rush.
Now tapping is a chore:
each tree must have its tap
connected to its pipeline
to collect the flowing sap.
Snowshoes are mighty handy
when deep snow is on the ground,
but they’re not so good in bushes
when you have to turn around!
There is a lot of equipment
that has to work just right,
when things don’t go as planned
means working half the night.
Finally it’s over!
The trees are all tapped in.
The equipment all is humming
and we’re ready to begin.
To make our syrup the modern way
we flick a switch or two
and watch the golden nectar
come flowing out to you.
The taste of fresh-made syrup,
that flavour can’t be beat,
s’worth all the fuss and bother
to get that special treat.
When all the syrup’s in the can
we’ve still got much to do.
There’s all the washing up
and cleaning through and through.
We’ve toiled away for hours
and our energy is spent.
We’ve had a bumper season,
but I’m awfully glad it’s “went”!
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