WILTON — Last year, sap tappers from Wilton to Turner were surprised that sap started flowing as early as January for some. Then, record heat in March shut it down quick.

For others, the season, which typically runs four to six weeks, lasted just two weeks. But then it was an open winter without much snow or cold.

Not this year. Day and night temperatures have been conducive to sap flows that are seemingly nonstop, at least for one new commercial sap tapper, who wishes it would stop to prolong the season.

“I’m hoping my sap stops running tonight,” Joe Gould of Wilton said Wednesday afternoon. “Last two nights, it ain’t been that way. It’s run all night on me.”

He and his wife, Laura, and their business partners, Joe’s father and mother, David and Jo Ann Gould, own and operate Sunrise Maple Farm at the corner of Route 2 and More Acres Road in Wilton. 

Gould said they and their children, whom they homeschool, and family members installed 8,300 taps and new sap lines on more than 100 acres.

“This has been a big project,” he said. “Everyone said we were crazy to try and do this in less than a year.”

Gould said they got a permit and built the new sugarhouse in a month last summer. Then, come August, they cut new trails to trees and installed taps and lines. They finished just in time to collect sap, which began to run on Feb. 14 and 15, he said.

He boiled sap Feb. 17 for the first time, just to fire up their oil-fired evaporator.

“Then I boiled a week later and a week later until last week when I’ve been boiling every other day, so we’ve been doing all right,” Joe Gould said.

Sap runs for others, however, are off to a slow start.

Wayne Thurston of Peru and the Thurston Family Farm, said Wednesday that unlike last year, temperatures have been too warm this month for sap to flow.

“It just started a week ago on March 9 and the last couple of days it didn’t freeze at night, so the sap didn’t run good, but we have made some syrup,” Thurston said.

Ed Jillson of Jillson’s Farm Stand in Sabattus said sap started flowing there two weeks ago and they’ve made 100 gallons so far.

Jillson’s gauge for a good season is 400 gallons. So, like Thurston, he said he’s hopeful that the upcoming weather forecast for colder nights holds true.

The Goulds also want colder night temperatures to stop the nightlong sap runs.

“Two nights straight, which ain’t really good, but it’s good for the day, but it’s not good for the long-term really,” Joe Gould said. “But as long as it shuts off tonight, we’ll be all right.”

Making maple syrup is a family-run operation for the Goulds and it dates back to his grandfather and father, Joe Gould said. He said he first began making syrup at the age of 5.

For the past 10 years since his grandfather Raymond Gould died, Joe Gould said he and his father ran a small evaporator from 500 to 600 taps.

“I’ve always wanted to go big, to go commercial and I talked to dad and this is the year we’re going to do it,” Joe Gould said.

“The biggest reason I did this this year is that my dad’s getting ready to retire in the next year or two and I want to give him a little bit extra toward his retirement.

The new business is also his retirement project. Joe Gould said he used to drive tractor-trailer trucks and do mechanic work, but an accident one day while working on his daughter’s car left him blind in one eye. So he decided to start making and selling maple syrup.

Sunrise Maple Farm is also donating $1 from any maple syrup container they sell to breast cancer families.

“I’ve invested in this instead of the stock market and other things, and it will give my kids something to make a good living at down the road, too,” he said.

“Maybe that will keep them out of trucks. I’d just as soon have them make syrup and not drive trucks.”

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