Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Easy Part is Done

So, today we drilled the holes and put in  a dozen taps in our maple trees. Or maybe I should say, STEVE drilled the holes and I stood around with the camera looking cute.  
Originally, the plan was to use (cheap or free) gallon spring water jugs instead of regular sap buckets, which get really pricey.  In the end, we couldn't figure an easy way to use the spring water jugs, so we ditched that idea.  Instead, I purchased some (food grade) barn buckets that weren't too much.  We will have to rig some kind of lid for these, to keep snow, rain, and maybe squirrels, out of the buckets.  But for today, we got the taps in, and the buckets hung.
It is below freezing, and late in the day, so nothing is going to flow tonight. That means lids aren't essential overnight.. I have till tomorrow to make some lids and have a few ideas of how to do that.  Doesn't have to be fancy, just something to shed the snow or rain.

This grand tree sports three buckets. (the other one is around the other side)

This is the easy part.  The real work begins once the weather warms enough to get the sap flowing. That weather pattern is predicted to start this week.
Once the sap starts running, I will be collecting probably twice a day.  Wearing snowshoes and carrying a five gallon bucket to pour the sap collected, and lugging that through snow back to the holding barrel will become a daily routine.  Once there is about 40 gallons, I will do a boil.

I shoveled and trampled a path from the house around to 4 trees and back on this side of the property. The other taps are on the far side of the house.

A few sugaring tips.
The sap is like milk. It has to be kept cold or it will spoil. Lucky for us, there is a six foot snowbank conveniently located behind the house, and I will situate the  holding barrel there in the snow. That will keep it nice and cold.

It takes anywhere from 32-43 gallons of raw sap to make one gallon of syrup.  The difference is in the sugar content of the sap, which can vary with the variety of tree (sugar maples being the highest sugar content, 3%, and I think silver maples being the lowest at 1.6% or thereabouts) and also the duration of the season. Early sap is the sweetest.  Count on about 40 gallons/1 gallon ratio.

In New Hampshire, if a squirrel fell into a sap bucket and drowned, they would not necessarily throw that bucket of sap out.  After all, it does get boiled for hours and hours...... pretty well kills any bad things in there. :-)  Not really kidding about this...
Just as we finished, it began snowing, again.   Timing is everything.

Weather:  raw, and a bit breezy and cloudy.   4 degrees this morning. 31 degrees was the high.  Snowing now. It felt colder than yesterday, even though it was 10 degrees warmer.

Proverbs 24:27
Prepare your work outside, and make it fit for yourself in the field, and afterwards build your house.

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