Black Rooster Maple
A young family pursues the sweet life in Keene
by Annie Stoltie
Most Adirondack maple syrup comes from venerable operations—the same trees tapped for generations, the old family sugar shack a traditional springtime hub. But Kirk and Kristy Bassarab, of Keene, are newcomers to the sweet life. They’ve quickly expanded from a handful of backyard trees to a 10-acre, 600-tap tube system that fuels their new business, Black Rooster Maple.
Five years ago the Bassarabs wanted to make syrup from the maples behind their High Peaks home, so they read the popular manual Backyard Sugarin’. They followed the directions about collecting sap, boiling it in a ﬂat pan on cinder blocks over an open ﬁre, and ended up with a few gallons of syrup. But sugaring, says Kirk, “is one of those things that’s totally addictive.”
In no time they had “more trees, more sap, more things to do.” Today that includes selling maple candy and 200 gallons of syrup at their Route 9N storefront in Keene and other outlets.
The Bassarabs, high-school sweethearts who grew up in Warrensburg, already lead busy lives—they have a year-old daughter, Ryleigh, plus Kirk is water superintendent for the town of Keene, engineer for Essex County and owner-operator of Bassarab Excavating. And he and Kristy have dabbled in poultry.
That’s where “Black Rooster” comes from. The story goes that a little black chick arrived with the Bassarabs’ mail-order shipment of 12 Rhode Island Red hens. That bird grew into a large, ebony-feathered rooster with a sprig of white on his crown that the other chickens liked to peck. To protect Black, as the Bassarabs called him, Kirk used a piece of black electrical tape to cover the feathers on his head. After that, Black strutted around the coop wearing what looked like a top hat.
Meet the Bassarabs and check out their operation during this year’s state-wide Maple Weekends (www.mapleweekend.com). Learn more about Black Rooster Maple and its products at www.blackroostermaple.com.