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March 18, 2011

I saw my first Great Blue Heron this morning on the way into the office.  George saw bunches of Robins yesterday and Linda heard a Red Winged Blackbird day before last.  Yesterday it got up to 55 in Morrisville  and today is the first day in a long time that we will have more sun then not.  Sunrise at 7:00 am and setting at 7:02.  Even  for those of us who enjoy the winter, it has worn out its welcome and now we all look for signs of Spring. 

The sugar houses are going full steam now and with the good weather, it is likely that folks will venture out for a visit.  It is not unusual for sugar makers to go long into the night and sometimes get a bit tired a week or so into the boil.   Long hours are a given and George points out, ” as fatigue increase an individual tends to become careless, take shortcuts, pay less attention to  the tasks at hand and often make poorer decisions.”   

For new sugar makers, the excitement of tapping their trees and boiling for the first or second time can add a layer of inexperience to the mix.  Having a first aid kit, some sort of communication system to the outside world , a fire extinguisher, and keeping well hydrated  and fed is a good start. 

According to The North American Maple Syrup Producers Manual,   burns in the sugar house are one of the most frequent injuries.  ” Common burns include burning the hands, and producers should be aware that steam hoods  are under a slight positive pressure when the damper is partially closed, resulting in steam rushing out when the hood doors are opened” 

If a burn is sustained then:

  • Cool all burns quickly,  with cold water, snow or even a bucket of sap.
  • Keep the affected area cool for 10- 15 minutes
  • After cool, cover the skin with a dry sterile bandage (which you now have in the first aid box)
  • If there is a question about the severity of the burn see a physician and if a burn is to the head, face or chest see a physician as soon as possible.
  • And the wives tale of butter on a burn, or ointments or saves could cause more harm than healing and increases the risk of infection.

Hopefully, this weekend will bring smiles, with all the nice weather and sun.  We are due for a good spring and this sugar season appears to be a real corker.

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