Ten days ago we boiled maple sap because there was a slight amount of sap to boil. Here’s a shot of the group that gathered then to sunbath, schmooz, and watch the steam rise off the boiling pan.

This past week the sap didn’t run very much at all. About half of our forty taps have not run at all this season and the other half have run very little. We haven’t had a collecting run with more than a modest thirty or so gallons of sap to collect and mostly we’ve had collecting runs of much smaller amounts. As you may recall from all my blogs on maple sugaring last year, it takes forty gallons of sap to get a gallon of syrup. We usually make fifteen or so gallons of syrup. I don’t know if we will make more than five this year.

The weather has been peculiar with multiple day stretches of deep cold then stretches of warmth then stretches of cold again. This is not conducive to the sap running. The sap usually runs after a cold night in the twenties followed by a warm day in the forties or fifties, but this year even after the rare ideal night and day temperature fluctuation nothing much is running in our tiny sugar bush. We are hoping it is going better for those friends and neighbors that depend on the sugaring for their livelihood. We do it just for fun and because it gets us outside and moving after too much winter.

When the sap is really running, I have an excuse to be out and about, but not in the gardens. This is good because while I am ready to get into the gardens, they aren’t ready for me. The very wet, still almost frozen soil can’t take my stomping around right now. I need to wait a bit longer to let the gardens dry out before I start my spring rounds of garden work.

Usually maple sugaring and pruning the fruit trees keeps me from being too impatient. This Saturday without the sugaring and with the last of the fruit trees pruned, I needed to divert myself somehow or other. I found the perfect project.


Yes, I purchased some fruhbeetkasten or cold frame kits to replace the wooden cold frames built in 1993 that finally fell apart two years ago. Last year I tried to limp along with some cobbled together make shift cold frames and lost some lovely baby plants because these makeshift cold frames fell in on the plants. So I decided to buy some kits. My other option was bugging Jim to build me new cold frames, but I decided not to spare Jim. (I am saving him for bigger projects later. Lucky guy.)

The Fruhbeetkasten and Anbausatz arrived in many many boxes. On Saturday morning Will and I poured a box out on the ground and found the directions.


The Fruhbeetkasten model I had purchased was for the model with the Anbausatz extension units. The modest English directions I had were for a different model, for Fruhbeetkasten without Anbausatz. These directions included helpful phrases like, “Put hex screw F in each of the lower bores of the aluminum corner piece C, J tightening with wing nut K and clamping washer G affixing one ground anchor P with each of the clamping washers.”

This got us only so far since we were assembling the delux with Anbausatz model. Will spent a few minutes letting the directions for our model, given only in German and Italian, flap in the wind while surveying the tiny bit of progress we had made. After a few minutes looking at the pile of strange parts and hardware left by just the one opened box and knowing that there were three more boxes left, Will had an urgent need to go next door to see if his friend was home. His parting words, “I think we need Dad.”

My gosh, how those five words galvanized me into action. I was going to assemble those cold frames BY MYSELF if it was the last thing I did.

And assembling the fruhbeetkasten with anbausatz was the last thing I did, on Saturday at least.

As the sun began to set, I put the last halbrundkopfschraube through the last alu-winkelproll lang into the plastikcobel set into the distanzrohr and I used my screwdriver as I had been using it for five hours, like a woman possessed and YES, my fruhbeetkasten with anbausatz was DONE!

And so was I!

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