Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tapping those Sugar Maples...part 1

In the early days of this blog, I used to wax on about history, tradition, and making memories with our children.  My husband and I still feel this way...I just don't go on about it like I used to on this blog.

We feel it is important  to reconnect with our roots as Canadians.
To make things from scratch that we all take for granted these days.

On that note, it's been on our minds to tap sugar maples and try our hand at home made maple syrup.
We go to the sugar bush every year
(as is tradition in some families over the March Break aka "Maple Madness")
The kids spend more time trying to get their hands on the "sweet water" than actually learning about how syrup was made in the past and how its made today.

We were determined to change that!

Not sure if you remember but we started out approximately 2 years ago by marking the trees in the fall.  (Original post link below...)

It sounded obvious, but if you are going to identify a tree by its leaves, you can't wait until March to do that.
We spray painted a small dot on the trees that looked to be in good condition and hoped for a good spring.
The years passed, while our lives got busy with moving and selling our house.

We were just about to turn our heads in the maple syrup tapping direction this year, when my husband noticed the 7 day forecast was showing very favourably for tapping weather!
The research began...with numerous searches on several different websites.
Of the various sites my husband looked at, the one below was the only one he bookmarked:

We also looked at the following book's chapter on maple tapping:

One trip to the local hardware store and we have all we need for our adventure...
(It was only about $140 including taxes)

Consisting of:

10 blue buckets
10 plastic lids with holes punched into them
10 spouts (spiles)
1 drill
1 drill bit (7/8")
1 prier
1 hammer

A better look at the tools...

Close up on the spouts...

We always have lids at our house leftover from various plastic buckets we have for food storage,
cat litter, cat food, etc...all washed, of course.

We loaded up the wooden sled and felt like pioneers.
The first ones to trek across the crusty white field.
We were breaking into new territory.

The prints of a wild rabbit racing across the hard, crusty snow.

We lose our child into the wild...the crisp beauty of the winter.

He scales mountains...

We use the tools of the trade...and hang them in the bush so we don't lose them.

Our first spile is planted...

The spout rests easily between the bucket and the plastic lid.

Drilling at the proper angle as per the books and websites
we checked prior to starting this adventure.

Side view.

If you're wondering about how far from home we had to travel,
You can see our house from the sugar patch...

Husband all tired of hammering in spiles...starts to go postal...

A small community of buckets waits for the milder weather.

A soft mossy rock frozen in winter...

All the while...our child becomes more feral...

Stalking the woods like he's lived there his whole life...

While $140 might sound like a lot...consider it a downpayment.
It will enable us to keep tapping and making syrup for years to come. 
The eventual cost per jar will be dependant on how many years we decide to do this little endeavour.

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