Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 11, 2014

THE DIRT ON GARDENING: Facebook can also teach users how to make maple syrup


---- — Do you do Facebook?

There are probably some out there that have no clue what Facebook is, how it operates and could care less.

For you nay-sayers, Facebook is a social-media site that is found on-line and occupies nearly 100 percent of your time while on your computer or on a hand-held device called your phone. Well, I may be stretching it a bit, but whenever I’m on it all my friends seem to be there, too.

Actually I’m somewhat “hooked” and find it hard to ignore. There is a wealth of information to usurp on Facebook, most of it from friends — long ago friends, current friends and many new friends.

Why is it so compelling to be “in the know” about who’s under the weather or who took a vacation or about our kids, our grandkids or our BFF’s? I guess it’s about being current on all the latest news. After all, when we’re out and about it is seldom that we don’t see a major portion of the population with a phone stuck to their ear while catching up on “important” information.

I guess the main thrust for me is that I get to renew old acquaintances from long ago while keeping current on new ones (some that I’ve not even met) and stay abreast of what’s happening, or for that matter, what happened long ago — and at my age that’s usually long before most that I talk to. It’s kind of like a history lesson — past, present and sometimes future.

I usually get most responses from Middlebury connections, being that I was born there, graduated there and lived there for 41 years. It is amazing to me how eager people are to relate to certain subjects of the past — a lot of my friends are much better at past history than myself but I usually give my 2 cents worth anyhow. Much is about growing up from childhood and the usual laughable tales.

Just this past week I queried a question about an old “sugar camp” that I had remembered from childhood in the Middlebury area. I remembered it being west of town and, for some reason, Olie Schrock stuck in my mind. It didn’t take long for the responses to start coming in. In fact, my sister Dalis (who hasn’t been in the area since graduating from nursing school and marriage) was one of the first to remind me: It was Olen “Olie” Schrock, who was the father of one of her best friends, Virginia. Then two other responses came from some of Middlebury’s best historians, Dan Bowers and Jon Witmer, who pinpointed the location.

Since sugar maple tapping is soon to be upon us (albeit probably somewhat later than last spring), and I was perusing an article from last year that I did about a camp west of Goshen on C.R. 32, it triggered that old camp from my childhood. The “historians” reminded me that Mr. Schrock worked for the county highway department and took several weeks off each year to make maple syrup.

A snippet of information for those that don’t know: It takes between 40 to 50 gallons of “sugar water” to make just one gallon of maple syrup. Maple trees are generally tapped when they reach a size of 10 inches in diameter at 4½ feet above ground level. A 15-inch round tree at this level will allow two taps and a 20-inch tree can accommodate three taps. An average tree will produce 15 gallons of sap from each tap-hole per season. The flow of water from the trees is the result of freezing temperatures at night to above freezing temperatures during the day.

The water is stored and filtered several times at the sugar camp while heating to a temperature of 185 degrees to reduce its percentage of water making a finished product that is 65 percent sugar. A gallon of maple syrup weighs approximately 11 pounds.

As I see it, Facebook isn’t all about friendly gab — it is a place to learn as well.