Thursday, December 1, 2011

Making a handlebar bag

The bag doing its job admirably

Mounted on the bike

The new bag next to it's (smaller) inspiration, a worn TA bag of unknown vintage

Cutting pieces, sewing on the leather trim and attaching hardware

The bag starting to take shape

Since we finished building the house I've been able to redirect some of my attention to making bags again for the first time in a long while. Ever so slowly over the last handful of years I've been refining my skills and working out solutions to challenges that get in the way of a satisfactory result. The first bag I ever made was a replica of the Rivendell Bicycle Works 'Hobo' handlebar bag. It was a great jumping off point for me; I got all excited while I was making it knew I was on to something, but the bag itself was not going to last forever. I sewed it on my mom's portable Singer, which she inherited from her mom. Since then I've been incrementally getting better at crafting bags. The acquisition of an industrial sewing machine was a big step.

Since the summer, I've been slowly building up my bike to accommodate a traditional French-style handle bar bag. The first step included some frame repairs which allowed for installing a new front rack which in turn provided the mount for installing a generator hub powered lighting system. The last piece of this project was the bag.

Having come across a beat up old TA bag, I used this bag as a model for my new bag but sized it up to what I thought would be a useful size. I used the TA bag briefly and found it too way too small for anything other then light duty service.

I drafted all the fabric pieces on brown paper and then cut them out to make full scale patterns. I then transferred the patterns to the heavy waxed canvas that I was to make the bag from, allowing me to then cut and assemble them.

Sewing the bag was pretty straightforward and went well. The most challenging aspect was sewing the leather edge trim on. I found actually hot-gluing it in place before sewing made the process a lot more controllable and in the end made the process work pretty well.

When the bag was complete I affixed the decaleur through the leather to a strip of maple on the inside of the bag. (A decaleur is a metal fixture that attaches to the back of the bag and seats in the handlebar mount attached to the stem). With some work, the bag now sits just where I want with the bottom of the bag resting on the Velo Orange rack below it.

To my satisfaction, the sizing of the bag worked out just right. It is large for this style bag, but I see no drawbacks and only positives for my needs. It fits a lot of stuff and can accommodate most of what I'd need for almost all of my trips, be it a work commute, a daylong trip, or going out to get some groceries. The top of the bag sits just about at bar height and this to me is one of the unheralded wonders of a handlebar bag: it becomes a very effective windbreak for my hands in chilly weather.

There are a few things I still need to do, such as purchase elastic cord to complete the pocket cover closures and decide on the best way to close the large top cover through the decaleur posts. I'm getting closer to solving that.

This is the first bag that comes close to meeting my expectations in terms of quality of both materials and construction. I've whittled away at the process a little more and look forward to further improvements gained from this effort. I'm proud of this project, but aware of the shortcomings as well. Each one brings me a little further along.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Small Adventures

Headed up the Shining Sea Bikeway

My route to Sandwich; the route home is on the other side

The train bridge on the Cape Cod canal with elevating center section

The Brown Jug in Sandwich. Great spot for some food and rest

Boardwalk in Sandwich. I'll explore further next time

Nancy's iPhone letting me know that the mystery sand road was cool to take

Late afternoon cup of coffee

Heading back down the bikeway with lights at sunset

Plans for the canal

We are spending the holiday weekend here on the Cape and the temperatures have been in the 60's (!). Its been thrilling to take advantage of the late fall weather down here with some time on the beach and a couple of bike rides. Today I got to go on a longer ride.

It is always with some excitement that I anticipate an extended trip that promises some new terrain and unexplored roads. From my last ride I learned an important lesson that I tried to be more careful about this time around; I did not simply print out the results of the Google Maps directions, but rather I researched the route and wrote out my lefts and rights and mileage from observation, including notes as needed about possible spots to explore.

In 2009 the rail trail that extends from Woods Hole into Falmouth village was linked up with a new section that extends the route up to County Road in North Falmouth, resulting in about 10 miles of pathway. Further up the western edge of the Cape a path runs along the Cape Cod canal from Bourne up to Sandwich -- another 6 or so miles. Between the two are another 6 to 7 miles of back roads and villages. My plan was to head up through this route, have lunch in Sandwich and then come back down through the back roads inland from the coast. This was a fortuitous decision since the wind was from the south and proved a good friend on my way north and not so bad coming south away from the water.

I have some ambivalence about bike paths, but when they are speedy and unencumbered I lose that ambivalence, and for a while I've been looking forward to exploring the canal pathway. I've always been intrigued by the canal as a man-made waterway, but have only glanced at it briefly while crossing the bridge and have never seen it close-up.

The warm weather spurred me on as I traveled, enjoying the marshes, shingled houses, fall bramble and gentle terrain. My route planning proved useful as I worked up through the roads to the canal path.

I was delighted to come upon the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge, which is a lift bridge allowing rail traffic access on and off the cape. My journey up the pathway took me northeast along the edge of the canal under the Bourne and Sagamore bridges before reaching the end in Sandwich. I don't know if it was the weather, a slight alteration in my mood, or what, but I've got to say there was a bit of a lonely feel to the canal path; not a lot of people, not a lot to marvel at, and just sort of an empty feel. Maybe it would feel different on a sunny day.

I'd done a little food research as well before this ride and knew I'd be stopping at the Brown Jug in Sandwich. A purveyor of fine foods, wines and provisions, it was a great place to catch a bite to eat. They have a great little outdoor terrace that had a fire pit burning away which I sat near. It was perfect for keeping the ride-cool down chills at bay. I even contemplated having a glass of wine with lunch but decided root beer was a wiser choice.

The ride back down took me along Rt. 130 along the eastern edge of Camp Edwards, a vast area of land dedicated to military uses. Rt.130 was a drag --no room, lots of cars. I managed as best I could until I reached the Mashpee town line when things improved with wider roads and even a stretch of bike path next to the roadway.

For many years I've questioned the presence of cell phones -- and now smart phones -- in our lives. I'm not certain that what we gain offsets what we are loose in other ways, and I'm still not certain how I feel about this. Regardless, Nancy recently bought an iPhone and I took it along with me on this ride. I can say with clarity that it was awesome to have as a navigational tool. At one point I pulled off onto an unmarked sand road to take a leak and then wondered where I was. I pulled out the iPhone and found out to my delight that I could continue on this back road and would come out near enough to where I was heading. Being able to enter into an unknown and frankly confusing maze of roads through the woods was really great. Later I was able to navigate my way home over back roads when it was clear that routes I'd chosen earlier were unpleasant, heavily traveled roads.

After a pleasant 60 miles I arrived home in the darkness happy for such a warm day in late November spent on two wheels.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Getting there on a bike

Ready to roll 7:30am

The new bag I made

Crossing the Third Branch White River where the flood took out the bridge

I had just crossed the tracks moments before

Coffee, a muffin, wifi, and warmth in Randolph

Lunch spot in Sharon

Last Sunday I awoke just before 7:00am, had a quick cup of coffee and little breakfast, got myself together and pedaled up the driveway headed for White River Junction.

Nancy was at a conference over the weekend and since the weather seemed favorable I decided to ride down and meet her so we could drive back up together. The temps we predicted to be in the 50's but starting out I think they were in the mid 30's. Since I've been riding lately in chilly weather I knew what to expect and was pretty well prepared.

My ride through the Valley took me south to the Roxbury Mountain Road. I took off some layers before ascending up the hill. It was fine and felt good to get warmed up although I took a short-cut up the Old Roxbury Mountain Road and payed with some steep terrain, but it got me up there and it felt good to get the hardest part of my ride over early in the day.

I had checked out my route the night before and determined that the bridge on 12A in Roxbury was still out as a result of the ravages of Hurricane Irene, but I figured I'd enjoy the adventure of figuring out how to cross the river, even if it meant some shallow water wading with my bike overhead. It turned out that there was a bridge out on Carrie Howe Road as well. Luckily it was a Sunday, so there were no work crews about to mind my scrambling through their work site, and I was able to cross over the stream with little trouble. Coming out on to Rt. 12A I was surprised by how chilly it felt for what was supposed to be a warm day, although at this point it was still before 9am.

The anticipated washed out bridge a few miles south of Roxbury was a little more of a challenge, but I managed to get across completely dry on some temporary steel beams running just a foot or two over the clear turquoise water. It would have been bitter to fall in.

I was particularly pleased with my new handlebar bag arrangement when I had to make these crossings because I was able to simply lift the bag off the decaleur and carry it separately from the bike, insuring my stuff was secure as I moved it, and eliminating the weight and balance issues I would have had to manage if the bag were still on the bike.

My ride down through the valley along 12A was spectacular; since the bridge was closed there were virtually no cars to be seen and I had the road to myself for the better part of 9 or 10 miles. I even rode on the wrong side of the road for a minute pretending I was riding in England, although it felt weird and I quickly moved back to the proper side despite there being no cars anywhere nearby.

The cool of the morning persisted and when I reached Randolph about 27 miles into the ride, I was grateful for a cup of hot coffee and a blueberry muffin at the little cafe at the train station.

Unfortunately I was not as careful in studying my route I should have been and I missed a couple of opportunities to take some interesting back roads and instead stuck to the main route the whole way. I'll know next time to examine the choices more carefully and make some proper notes. In any event, I was able to keep to a reasonably good schedule and begin to feel the day warm up as I traveled towards Bethel, roughly half way through my journey.

I became a bit uncertain of which way to go as I passed through Bethel and tried to decipher the Google Maps bike route that I'd printed out. I followed my intuition and made the right choice, but for a few miles was sort of unclear where I was headed. At this point I was traveling along Rt. 14 south and closely following the path of the White River. The endless destruction left by the flooding from Hurricane Irene was everywhere to be seen in these lowlands. Villages emptied out, roads washed away, bridges closed, mud and silt spread high above the river's edge.

I ate one of the sandwiches I'd brought with me as I sat in the gazebo in the village of Sharon and nibbled on some other snacks, but I didn't linger as the day was turning slightly overcast and I was hoping to reach White River by 2pm, or thereabouts. I had agreed that I would call Nancy by 2:00 and my timing was looking good that I might actually get there by then, but I wanted to call anyways just to let her know where I was. I set out from Sharon and decided I'd call from West Hartford. When I eventually reached the village all I saw were flooded out buildings and the general store where there likely would have been a phone was boarded up. Concerned about not calling, I rolled on and committed to calling at the next opportunity.

Despite not knowing the spread of the towns in this area I knew I was getting close to White River, but I wasn't sure how close. It was with a bit of dogged hope that I saw the town sign coming up for Hartford and below it the miles to White River Junction. I was prepared for another 6 or 7 miles, but to my delight my approach revealed it was only 1 mile to town, and a flat mile at that.

I rolled into the parking lot of the Coolidge Hotel right at 2:00pm and Nancy had just walked out the door of the hotel. Our mutual timing was perfect.

So, in all it was about a 63 mile ride. I was glad to travel over new territory and enjoy an unlikely extended late fall ride.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011


In less than two months a Tintin movie is going to be released and I am both excited and bummed: excited because I have been a life-long fan of Tintin and I feel protective of a cherished icon; and bummed because Hollywood is grabbing hold of this icon and I'm not sure he'll come out unscathed.

Somewhere in the mid-seventies I was introduced by friends to a comic book called "The Adventures of Tintin" that caught my attention and has held it since.

What I didn't know then was that Tintin had been around for decades, but had only recently been introduced into the United States. Tintin was the creation of a Belgian artist named Hergé who began Tintin in the late 1920's as a serialized newspaper strip. Eventually the strips were collected into book form and became standardized at some point at 62 page editions each.

Tintin is nominally a reporter, but in fact is a sort of pure-hearted adventurer and explorer who seems to find endless reason to travel to some compelling spot around the world. He and his cohorts even made a spectacular trip to the moon roughly 10 years before the historic Apollo 11 flight happened. He is accompanied by his trusty dog Snowy and often joined by the loveable but troubled Captain Haddock (known for his amazing curses, such as "Billions of blistering blue barnacles!!"). There are many other characters that are part of the work, but they are the central focus of the stories.

I love these books for a number of reasons. Maybe it is a case of the whole being greater then the sum of the parts. The draftsmanship, the artwork, and expression in the line drawings, the globe traveling range of adventure, the drama and humor, the loyalty amongst the characters. The list goes on, but, suffice to say, I get as much joy re-reading a Tintin book today as I did back in the 1970's when I first encountered them.

When Hergé died, it was his will that no more Tintins should be produced, so the story ended there, and I suppose that is probably a good thing, although it would be fun if the stories kept coming. Although this film is taken from the books, it'll be fun to have a fresh interpretation of Tintin, and from the little I've read, the reviews are generally positive (the film is out in Europe).

So, I worry that Tintin will become a mass-market commodity and lose a little in the process, but I guess the books will always be what they've always been and that won't change.

The video is a beautiful animation of images and icons from the many stories.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Boston Run

This afternoon I pedaled up from Milton (a town about 10 miles south of the city) up to Boston.

I worked and went to school in the Back Bay area for a few years and for no real reason it was sort of a place to go, so that's where I went. I gotta say, there isn't any real decent way for a cyclist to get from Milton to Boston without either braving some heinous roadways or travelling through some semi-sketchy areas. Seeing as I was straddling the twilight I decided for challenging traffic rather than an iffy unfamiliar area.

I was hoping to get an impression of cycling in the city, but really didn't have time to take much in. I think I'd need a couple of days to really start to see where things are at, but even at a glance I noticed a few fun and encouraging items: A pedicab travelling up Newbury street; a vintage Peugeot set up in full mid-century constructeur-style with fenders, lights and a front rack; a delivery bike with a large cargo container; and a bunch of colorful fixies. Lots of Brooks saddles and painted fenders as well.

At the top of Newbury I saw the Boston version of the bike-for-hire scheme. My first exposure to this was the Montreal Bixi bikes and these seem to be the very same bikes, just rebranded as the "Hubway" for Boston. With their built in hub generator lights they are easy to spot and I saw a few as I biked around the Back Bay area.

I wish I got to travel further around the city, but it was fun nonetheless to drop in for a few minutes.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Warm Showers

Caroline and Liz ready to head out for the day

Last night we hosted our first guests via, which is an online hub for pairing cycling tourists up with people willing to host them.

When I first heard about the idea I thought it was cool, but it took me a while to actually get around to investigating it and signing up. Last month I received an email asking if we'd be willing to be hosts and we said yes.

Our guests for the evening were Caroline from Montreal and her friend Liz, from Amherst, MA. They spent the holiday weekend doing a tour from Burlington down to Middlebury;  Middlebury to us here in Waitsfield; and then rounding it off with the trip back up to Burlington via Rt. 2 and the River Road up through Richmond.  They couldn't have picked a more perfect weekend to do a cycling tour around central Vermont; the weather has been incredible and the leaves are quite something.

Caroline and Liz arrived somewhere between 5-6 and we of course availed them of our warm shower and bath, which they gladly took advantage of.  We cooked up some flatbreads and they helped out and we had a nice dinner together. The cool thing is that simply by being cyclists on a trip, we've got quite a lot in common, so it was easy to make conversation.

On Mondays and Wednesdays Nancy and I normally commute to Red Hen together (I turn around in Moretown and double back home). This morning we were joined by our new friends and it offered a nice twist to our routine. It was also cool to share a bit of a trip with them.

I look forward to both hosting folks in the future, but also taking advantage of this cool resource as a cyclo-tourist.  Vive la internet!

Saturday, September 17, 2011


Rose and Joe, the proud new owners, helping take the yurt down

A view of our new home from inside our old home

So we found two great folks who are buying the yurt from us and rapidly making it their new home in the next town over.  Without really making any effort at all we fell into contact with Joe and Rose and told them we were interested in passing on our yurt and they readily took interest. 

I'd been doing some work on the yurt in July and August replacing the old rotted windows and then making a new exterior wall canvas since the old one had really started to deteriorate. Joe and Rose came over and we were able to show them that we'd done the work to the yurt that we would have wanted to do ourselves if we were going to spend a bunch more years in it. 

Clearly our affections and energies have turned towards the house and we are just glad that the yurt is moving on to people who will have an active interest in taking care of it and making it their home.  We're excited to head over there soon and see their progress. 

Are we sad to see the yurt go? For myself, the moment of sadness came back in March or April when we moved the fridge out. That was the day that it felt like the yurt had finished it's amazing and wonderful service of keeping us warm, safe and happy for so many years. We will always be grateful to how it changed our lives and brought us together, but at the same time we are now fully invested and attached to our new home. We wish Joe, Rose, and the yurt many years of happiness!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Last Tuesday was chicken slaughtering day.

My extended family all go in on about 40 chickens that we divide between three families, resulting in 10-15 chickens each, depending on what we determine earlier in the season.

I've been involved in this process before, so it was familiar, but nonetheless it is something to behold to see a chicken go from running around to beheaded, scalded, de-feathered, gutted, and trimmed and then plunked in a rinse bucket in all of 5 minutes. In a sort of magical process it goes from animal to food right before our eyes.

I don't exactly savor this process, but I respect it and I do find it fascinating. There is something primal about death and food that is laid out to see in a way that is pretty unusual in my life, and in the lives of most people.

By evening, Nancy is cutting up the chickens and freezing them. We haven't bought much store bought chicken in the last 4 or 5 years since we started doing this.

By the way, Cindy and Ralph, the folks doing the slaughtering travel around the state with their mobile processing trailer. They were featured in a book about the local food renaissance in Hardwick, Vermont called "The Town that Food Saved" by Ben Hewitt. I have not read it, but am looking forward to doing so.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Bread and Puppet

Today we went to the Sunday afternoon Bread & Puppet show in Glover, Vermont.

Bread & Puppet is a celebration of life, humanity, humor, radical politics, bread, nature and imagination all expressed in a form of theatrical circuses, pageantry, and plays. Most often, and most dramatically, this happens in the broad fields and woods of the Bread & Puppet farm in northern Vermont. Like many inspirational and creative endeavors it is hard to explain in words, but suffice to say that it, for me, is a deeply inspiring and spiritually/creatively fulfilling experience to see a Bread & Puppet show.

I actually recall going to a Bread & Puppet show at Goddard College when I was either in kindergarten or maybe first grade and mostly I remember being scared by it. Puppets can be like that. I'm sure I enjoyed it a lot too, but being scared is what I remember. It was more or less thirty years before I again saw a Bread & Puppet event.

I recently wrote to a friend about Bread & Puppet:

"I have long had an aversion to hippy-esqe stuff. I knew about Bread & Puppet for years and never went because of just that. I had no interest in this sort of dead-head event that every groovy person I knew went to. When I finally did go, almost by accident, I was completely taken by the experience. Despite what it might seem like, it's lineage is more political German street theatre; almost anarchist in it's semi-sensical political concepts. My earlier misgivings aside, I experience it as a celebration of art, life, and humanity."

Bread & Puppet is something of an institution here in the northeast, having been around for decades and still as funny, immaginative and inspiring as it ever was. Through the eighties and nineties it became something of a major destination in the summer that culminated in a large and out of control multi-day event with fields of campers. Eventually someone died, and that was the end of Bread & Puppet for a while.

But a couple of years later it started back up again as a scaled down and minimally publicized event on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons with no camping. It sort of self corrected back to a manageable size and has remained that way for the last decade or so.

There is a splendor built of simple and wildly immaginative puppets, props, songs, ideas, and costumes that brings a sense of awe and joy to my heart.

God bless Bread & Puppet!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

s24o 4

Dave, hauling food and Lydia

Liza and Maia

Randy, Maia, Jeremy, Sally, and Anda

For the last few years we've all gotten together for our annual s24o bike ride, usually around the time of my birthday (late April), but this spring we were snowed out and so put it off until a later date. It took a while, but we finally managed to find a time that we could all get together.

Our rides together are a celebration of friendship, bikes, food, and adventure and we always have a great time. In truth, its a bit of work to make it all happen, but its totally worth it and is always something I look forward to.

What's been really fun is to watch the steady evolution of our trips. Last year none of the kids were riding their own bikes. This year Maia and Anda both rode the 4 or so miles to our camping spot and then rode home the next morning. Actually, Anda rode the 6 miles to our starting point, so that's 10 miles for an 8 year old each way. Solveig is on a trail-a-bike and Silas is in a trailer. I wonder if Solveig might be on a bike next year...

I found myself imagining a few years down the road when maybe we could all do more of a trip together. That would be so fun.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


I've been sorta working on this for a long time. I originally saw this stencil in a 1950's British Rail promotion film. On the side of the bicycle storage car was an image much like this. After spending a bunch of time drawing it in Illustrator, I finally got around to cutting it out as a stencil on some heavy plastic material.

I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cycling Season

It felt like I didn't ride my bike for two years as we built the house.

This year, thank goodness, is different. The embers of my love affair with the bicycle have been rekindled and are burning strong once again. I have Nancy to thank because I've joined her two mornings a week on her commute to the bakery. She bikes from Waitsfield to Middlesex, which is about 13 miles; I ride with her about half way, to Moretown, and then ride home again and in doing so build in a "ride to work" even though I am working at home most of the time.

Having this routine has ignited the spark and now I'm all wrapped up in the pleasure of being on my bike again. I love it. While we were building the house it just never felt okay to take off and ride my bike. I'm not sure why that is, but the result was that I rarely got on my bike for two seasons. In fact, I think I biked more on Cape Cod when we went away for vacation then I did here in Vermont.

Tomorrow Nancy and I are biking at least down to Rochester and perhaps farther en route to a family get together in Chittenden.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Travelling Bees

This is the second year we have brought some of our hives down to Kingsbury Farm. It's interesting to have hives in different locations for the sake of comparison and it feels good to be contributing the value of the bees to an exciting enterprise. Aaron and Suzanne are enterprising folks and it's hard not to be intrigued by their efforts. Having farmed elsewhere they've said that they were glad to get to start out at a new farm and do it the way they would like based on that past experience. Its seems so far so good. They grow lovely produce and make yummy food for the Market Garden store.

Our bees did fine there last year but if I recall we brought them down a little farther on in the season so they didn't have all that much time to do their thing. We'll see how things go this year.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


Today we made the decision to get rid of the Volvo 240 that I've owned for the last 13 years. Although we've been hearing for years the I-don't-know-how-much-more-money-you-want-to-put-into-this refrain, today we finally gave into a certain amount of reason that just barely tipped the scale. It felt somehow wrong to choose to drive a car to the junk yard; sort of like taking an eager pet to the vet's to be put to sleep. Shouldn't the car actually die before committing such an act? It wasn't easy, but now that it's done, I'm confident that it was a good decision.

It was somewhat surprising to me the wistfullness and sadness I felt as I emptied the car and got her ready for the trip to the metal recyclers. I admit to weeping a few times today as I thought about the many many adventures we shared together and the life changes this trusty wagon has seen me through. I've driven half way across the country in her to meet Nancy and see the Sand Hill cranes; I've slept in the back with the seats folded down flat many times on my own and with Nancy traveling or after a dance or at a summer festival (this includes one memorable night when the temperature got down to -16 degrees below zero); I lived in Northampton, MA when she came into my life and saw me through the move to Boston and then up to Vermont; I've dipped her tail into the Atlantic many times as we towed my little sailboat all over New England; I've overloaded the car with way too much heavy lumber on the roof and made dicey trips over the mountain gap; I relocated a small shed with a chain hooked to the nose... it goes on and on.

I'm fully aware that this is, in the end, just a car, but there is something I'll hold onto about this one. Perhaps as a final hurrah, her odometer rolled over to 305,000 miles as I drove her to the junk yard. One last milestone from a troubadour of a car. The earth's circumference is just under 25,000 miles which means this car circled the earth the equivalent of roughly 12 times.

Farewell sweet 240 and thanks for the miles we travelled together!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


These jars show the color of the syrup from our four major boils, from left to right. Typically, as the season progresses the syrup gets darker. This year our second boil was lighter then the first round, but then darkened with each successive round

Our sugaring season was a good one and wrapped up around mid-April. We made a record 12 gallons of syrup. Our previous largest take was something like 8 gallons, so we were quite pleased. I think this happened for three reasons: an abundant supply of sap, the addition of 3 or 4 great producing trees and a refined approach to boiling. Having enough sap is clearly the first requirement to being able to produce a bunch of syrup and those extra trees have been a great addition to our sugarbush, bringing our number of taps up around 35-40.

We've also gotten better at just keeping the boiling process going for as many days as needed, rather then trying to do marathon full boils late into the night. We've taken more of a "boil-as-you-go" approach and it allows us to be busy with other things while we try to keep things moving along with the boil.

You can roughly expect a quart of finished syrup for each tap and it takes roughly 40 gallons of sap to produce a gallon of syrup.