OLD TREE'S STORY PART 3
One early sunny day I was roused from my late winter slumber by the sound of excited voices approaching me.
“Look at this one! We can stick three buckets on this guy and they’ll all be full by nightfall.”
Apparently, my prime location accounted for the abundance of branching I possessed and so made me a good candidate as a top maple sap producer.
And produce I did!
By the time 1914 rolled around, my new owner, Farmer Burke had built a sugarhouse complete with sleeping quarters for four men. In later years he added a small stable to shelter Rock, the horse, on cold nights. Over a six -week period Farmer Burke and his crew worked 1900 taps, the most of any farmer for miles around. Farmer Burke was a progressive and ambitious farmer. He was the envy of all for being the first syrup producer to own and operate a newly developed indoor evaporator. So passionate was he about his sugarbush that at night, as he and fellow loggers were being transported home from the day’s work, Charlie Burke would jump off the still moving sleigh at the church and race home to his beloved maple trees.
In those glory years, I was privy to all manner of conversations as the forest was abuzz with human activity and thanks to these I came to know my forest home and my fellow trees most intimately.
“Elmer and I got four gallons of sap from that field tree overlooking the house.” Many years later (in farmer Don’s time) that tree overlooking the house came to be known Big Daddy.
“Yea, but that old tree down by the secret field’s still got him beat for giving sap.”
And so, through snippets of conversation, I learned about the forest and especially about the trees born in my time, most of them field trees. There was Big Daddy, Wire (so called because a strand of barbed wire was stapled to his trunk in Farmer Burke’s time and still sticks out of the middle of his large trunk to this day) and “that tree up the slope opposite the house” – still unnamed to this day.
These great trees and a few others were fortunate to have survived the slaughter of 1972 – but not so their brothers who grew in the forest interior.