A friend of ours kindly came over to help us string the laterals which was somehow beyond us even though I do it every year (occasionally heavily pregnant). He came over with a big tupperware box of tools, one of which was a “one handed” sap tubing tool which, he claimed, was going to change our lives. He also lamented that even though the “one handed” tool was so much better than no tool at all, the “two handed” tool was even better, but of course cost twice as much. We scoffed at his tool. We’d been putting laterals together for years by hand, by Jove, although admittedly this usually involved chewing on the end of the plastic tubing to get it malleable enough to shove haphazardly onto the spout or connector or whatever, and didn’t usually involve enough tubing to support more than 150 taps. But still. Can’t we do anything manually anymore?
He showed us how the tool worked, quickly making ten drops in the time it took us to make one, and we were sold. Still, we spent considerable time pulling and straining and releasing and cutting and trudging through the six feet of snow to put up all of three laterals (25 taps), and it took three people even with the one handed tool, which is where the two handed tool comes into play.
I was still being stubborn about it until last night. Really, I was just balking at the 200 dollar price tag. But during the day another sugarer came by and apologized that we could not use his but he uses it “all the time”. And I suddenly remembered that we’d be doing this for awhile, and maybe 200 dollars was a small price to pay to get the lines up in time for the sap to flow, which is all, in the end, that matters in the sugaring game.
But when all is said and done, and you take all the equipment and labor into account and all that has to happen to boil 40 gallons of liquid into 1 gallon of syrup, it really isn’t any wonder that the stuff costs more than 60 bucks a gallon itself. We have to sell 4 gallons just to make back the price of the stupid two handed tool. And that’s not counting our labor. Or any of the other equipment. Or the tax we pay to have the land.
Farming. If you were in it for the money, you’d buy a lottery ticket.