I met an awesome couple on my birthday – Dan and Larkin are Edward’s friends, and they are currently working on Larkin’s sisters Maple Farm. The invited us up to Westby for a day to play around on the farm, learn about maple syrup production and head out for a day of work tapping trees.
We started on the 2.5 hour drive from Madison super early this morning. On the way we saw some interesting things – there were lots of Amish families out and about, and we came across this wagon dropping some kids at home, and another group of kids playing around on a sled with a little pony. I was intrigued!
I decided this is something I want to attend:
We got to Westby and met Dan and Larkin in town, and they directed us out to the cabin.
It was Larkin’s Mum’s birthday, so first up was a little treasure hunt via Geocache, an awesome global treasure hunt that Larkin’s Mum loves. We followed the clues that Dan and Larkin had so cleverly set out, until her Mum found her birthday presents hidden in the woods.
We played around in the snow for a while – Dan’s favourite game was ‘push over the Australian’ as she wasn’t quite as deft at trudging through the knee high snow.
We got kitted up in our Maple farming clothes, complete with drills, taps, hammers, overalls and crampons to climb up and down the steep hill.
We head out to the woods, and started off in pairs, drilling holes in trees, hammering in taps and then connecting the taps up to the maple lines that run down the hill into collection tanks at the bottom. The sap is later pumped back up to the ‘Sugar Shack’ up the top of the hill and boiled down – 50 gallons of sap is required to make 1 gallon of syrup!
This guy was running up and down the hill, always bugging us for pats (which I had no problem stopping work to give him – look at that face!)
Late in the day we stopped for a beer before finishing our section and trudging our way back up the icy hill.
We tried some spoonfuls of the amazing syrup they produce on the farm – I was so happy to get to see how it was made – I’d say maple syrup is in my top 5 favourite foods.
Exhausted, we decided to head to La Crosse for some cocktails and dinner. We stopped in at Nordic Creamery for some fresh Wisconsin cheese curds to snack on in the car – they were still warm from the vat.
We piled back in the car and continued on to La Crosse. We got there just as the sun was setting so head out to the lookout over the city. The red sunset reflected over the snowy town – perfect end to a perfect day.