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May 2020

Bill Sherrod, Editor


Kudos for the great articles on animals and animal welfare! There is a special place in heaven for those who help animals.

— Joe Wilson, Fredericksburg, Va.


I can’t tell you how nostalgic it was to read about maple-syruping in your March-April issue. We happily came to Virginia after 40 years of life on a 100-acre farm in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in upstate New York. Similar to the folks in the article, we tapped the maple trees in our yard until I retired. We knew we had a huge “sugar bush” (hard maples as opposed to red or “soft” maples) on the hillside (we lived in the valley), so my family decided to start a syruping operation. The area already had many syruping operations, so we had plenty of help. Some folks still gathered sap with horse and wagon. We ran plastic lines well over a mile when finished. Sap was gravity-fed (no pumps) to our new sugar house by a year-round stream.

We lazily read books and magazines as the evaporator boiled down the sap. Our first year yielded 100 gallons of grade-A “liquid gold.” Sugar maples’ sap-sugar content was always greater than 2 1/2% so the sap-to-syrup ratio was near 25 to 1. Our best was 20 to 1.

Whatever trees these folks in Virginia tap (except cedar, of course) we’re sure will be a “labor of love.” It gets lonely this time of year for us as we see the daily temperatures fluctuate from daytime 50s to nighttime 20s (highest sap flow-time).

Let’s encourage these syruping adventurers to bring to Virginia an endeavor that is guaranteed to bring happy memories and perhaps do to the morning “refreshment” what wine-making did for the evening.  

— Frank Sardina, Unionville, Va.


Just read the articles in the February issue of the magazine about the African American schools in Virginia and was wondering if you could do an article on Belmead Mansion in Powhatan that was started in 1895 for American Indians and African Americans? It opened as St. Emma’s Industrial and Agricultural School for African American children. St. Emma Military Academy (named after Emma Wicke) for boys and St. Francis de Sales School for girls are credited with educating 15,000 black students.

— Diane Jadlowski, Montpelier, Va