Roll northeast through the Schoharie County town of Jefferson. Just as you start worrying that you’ve lost your way, take a right onto Fuller Rd. Half a mile up, a funky old truck that’s been fitted for holding sap sits alongside a red sapshouse. Stop the car; you’re at Buck Hill Farm (185 Fuller Road, Jefferson, 607-652-7980, buckhillfarm.publishpath.com).
If Sam Collins’ trees are giving sap—the plume of steam billowing from the shack is a tell—then this third-generation Buck is inside cooking syrup. Sam’s family has been tapping maple trees and making a life from the centuries-old task of maple sugaring in Schoharie County since 1978. And the Buck Hill syrup is floral and fine.
Hopefully you’ve come on a Sunday. That’s the day that Buck Hill opens its saphouse kitchen to the public for a pancake breakfast that showcases the farm’s own ingredients, starting with the maple syrup. Bring your appetite; you’re about to have the country breakfast of your dreams.
Sharon Buck, Sam’s mother, began serving breakfast on Sundays during sugaring season in 1995. She now feeds visitors in her saphouse kitchen all year round. Her pancakes, which take up most of a plate and are packed with berries or apples that are grown right on the farm, are the ideal vehicle for serious maple consumption.
As is the sausage. Ground specifically for Buck Hill, it’s spiced with sage and hand-pattied to order. The smoky-crunchy bacon—like everything here, it’s solid but lean—might be from the hog that routed the side yard last fall.
Have it with the french toast, which is custard-like and perfect, or with a vegetable omelette stuffed with local cheese. And you might as well save room for a side of home fries, lightly seasoned with paprika, served well-done and crunchy.
Sharon is a maple virtuoso. While her guests eat, she’s working in the saphouse kitchen, concocting various maple-based confections. You may see see maple cream spinning in a vintage tabletop churn on the counter, or smell maple-based barbecue sauce simmering on the stove.
Sharon bakes maple into granola, in summer and winter versions, and bags sticky batches of maple popcorn. And it all can be purchased in the farm store and taken away, as can every grade of that glorious maple syrup, any Sunday of the year.