MINERVA - It's early March and the sap is running at the Klippel Sugar Camp at Maple Knoll Farm in Minerva. Eric Klippel and Selina Lemay-Klippel are hard at work making syrup - lots of it.
In its second year of operation on 14th Road, the sap is being boiled with the sweet maple syrup, collected and bottled. The process is quite a sight to see.
Maple Knoll Farm has about 120 buckets out on the sugar maple trees, with about 300 trees tapped into tubes, which run the sap down the hill to a pump house, where it is temporarily collected prior to its trip to the boiler in the sugar house.
"We are preserving an Adirondack tradition - something that's really needed," said Klippel.
Last year the farm made 32 gallons of syrup, based on around 200 tapped trees - this year there will be plenty more syrup made and available for sale at Maple Knoll Farm. The syrup is sold in containers ranging from pints to full gallons.
Klippel has been tapping trees for commercial sale since 1984, when the Sugar Camp was located on Bird Pond Road in the Town of Chester. He eventually sold the property with its sugar bush (a sugar bush is a woodlot of sugar maple trees) and has since built a sugaring operation in Minerva. He and Lemay-Klippel (who helps with the operation and makes spectacular home-made doughnuts) have constructed a beautiful facility on an actual maple treed knoll.
Maple sugaring is a passion for the couple.
"I love being in the woods, and helping to make a natural product such as this is something I truly enjoy," said Klippel.
It takes about 40 gallons of sugar maple sap to make a single gallon of syrup. When the operation is running full-tilt, a lot of hardwood is burned to sustain the boiler fire in order to evaporate the water component of the sap. What's distilled out is a fine golden-colored sweet syrup that is pretty indescribable in its maple sweetness.
"It takes a lot of work," said Lemay-Klippel. "It's truly a labor of love."