For the past several years the pipes at the Frank Hatch Sap House have frozen in the winter, and no one on staff could figure out why. The pipes were taped and insulated, everything indicated that they should actually work–but they did not. It was just a mystery, one that we learned to work around.
That mystery was unearthed several weeks ago.
Chris, trail maintenance coordinator, had been eyeing the eroding retaining wall at the back of the Harwood Barn. The logs, which had been staked in place along the stone stairway, were starting to rot, and the soil behind the logs washing away. A great project! He, Tim, Colene, and the apprentices harvested and hauled logs from the larch plantation (behind the caretaker’s cabin) down to the barn. There they planed and cut the logs to size. They began began excavating around the old retaining wall only to discover…an exposed pipe!
At one time, when the original retaining wall was in place, and the soil behind it was compact, the pipe had been insulated. However, in the last few years, the eroded soil had exposed the pipe, though it remain hidden behind the rotting logs.
Viola! Mystery solved! The pipe to the sap house runs from behind the Harwood Barn. Hopefully, with some new insulation around the metal plumping, and a new, beautifully built wall, filled with gravel from onsite, the pipes will not freeze this year.
In a working landscape there are always mysteries to solve: everything from freezing pipes to figuring out the best way to integrate the needs of the farm in with the natural world. It’s just part of the dynamics: being a Nancy Drew in coveralls.