Niagara Gazette — Brothers-in-law Tony Gaeta, 67, and Rich Goodman, 66, are passionate about maple syrup. So passionate, in fact, that the two recently retired men spend hours every day creating the sugary, sweet amber-colored liquid.
"I love doing it," Gaeta said, noting that he's wanted to make maple syrup his whole life.
"We enjoy it," added Goodman.
What started as Gaeta using his wife's pans to boil sap outside several years ago has grown into a "hobby-business," Gaeta said, and now Gaeta and Goodman, who run Gaeta Family Farm, sell their own maple syrup out of the "sugar house" Gaeta built on his property in 2012. Located at 3789 Ridge Road, Cambria, Gaeta Family Farm is also participating in Maple Weekend for the first time this year.
"A friend suggested we do it," Gaeta said. "We don't know if a lot of people will show up, or nobody will."
Maple Weekend runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and March 29 and 30. The event runs all through New York state, and features other maple farms in Niagara and Erie counties.
For Maple Weekend, Gaeta, a retired research scientist, and Goodman, a retired truck driver, plan on having demonstrations on how to tap Maple trees and how to make syrup, as well as samples and syrup available for purchase.
While the "sugar house" is on Gaeta's property, the majority of the Sugar Maple trees are located on Goodman's eight-acres of land on Upper Mountain Road. Getting sap from the trees is contingent on the weather, Gaeta said, specifically cold nights and warm days, a cycle that keeps the sap flowing, especially at the beginning of spring.
"We need mother nature to cooperate," Goodman said. "We're at her mercy."
Because they're a small operation, Goodman said, they don't have the vacuum lines larger farms use to get sap out of the trees. They use around 140 taps, and check the buckets the sap drains into every day. Once the buckets fill up with sap, they're dumped into a large tank, so the sap can be driven to the "sugar house."