Musings of an everyday woman . . .

Reflections on living and loving life . . .

Sunday Stroll: Tapping Trees March 8, 2009

Late February/early March is the time we get busy with tapping Maple trees in the Northeast, depending on what the weather’s doing.  In order to have a productive run with sap, to transform into sweet, sticky, amber syrup, you need freezing temps at night and thawing temps during the day.

Due to a bunch of storms and a really cold snap that hung around, we waited until March to tap our Maple trees here on the farm.

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Our youngest, Nathaniel, drills the holes for the quills/taps.  We used to use a hand-powered drill, but now a battery-operated drill speeds up the job.

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Our older son, Jonathan, hammers in the taps and adjusts the line.

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My DH makes some adjustments to the main sap pipeline.

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As always, Duke find a comfortable spot from which he can supervise the work!

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We also use traditional pails and quills to collect sap from our maples.

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On this warm, spring-like day, the snow is quickly melting and the sap is dripping practically in a constant stream, almost like a slow-dripping faucet.

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When the buckets are full of sap, we collect the precious liquid and haul it to the Sugar House, where we cook it down into syrup.  When you see steam and smoke escaping, you know the wonderful transformation is taking place!

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The long process from sap to syrup takes place in the wood-fired evaporater.  It takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of sweet maple syrup!

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It’s a long process that requires lots of man-power and wood-power and you must be patient!  When we finish a fresh batch, there’s nothing better than to sample the sweet stuff over hot pancakes or johnnycake!

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A stroll around the farm just isn’t complete without a stop to say hi to our newest addition, Annabelle.  She’s due to deliver a foal in August, which we’re very excited about!

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I also came upon Nathaniel using his mini-excavator to clean up Annabelle’s pasture, making more room for her and her friends.  They’re enlarging the fenced-in pasture space, complete with new fence posts, so Nate’s excavator was perfect for pulling out the old posts.   I just know that Annabelle and her baby will love their new space!

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To see who else is strolling on this lovely March day, stop by the Quiet Country House.

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13 Responses to “Sunday Stroll: Tapping Trees”

  1. Love the post! As always, the animals are my favorite part.

  2. Oh, Abbie, even better than your brothers and your father–and Nate’s “mini?” I wouldn’t tell them that! Ha ha!

  3. Aisling Says:

    Great post! Really speaks to life on the farm. I wish I could come on over and sample that fresh syrup. Plus, the little kid in me always wants just a little sip of the sap before its processed. *grin*

  4. Crafty Gardener Says:

    I can almost smell the maple sugar being made. It’s a wonderful, tasty time of the year.

  5. Cloudhands Says:

    A pure pleasure to be reminded of the “sugar bush” operations that went on around us when we lived in Michigan. Sweet smells and yummy tastes. All you folks who still tend to this wonderful endeavor have my deep admiration. The only thing similar here in Tennessee is the Sorghum Mills where sorghum cane is pulverized and squeezed and the 40 gallons of juice boiled down for the one gallon of syrup. A pure southern treat is hot biscuits, butter and a big dollop of surghum. My husband would add some peanut butter.

  6. Lisa Says:

    Oh yummy! I love your blog and your daughters. I would love to live on a farm like you guys. I’m so jealous.

  7. Aisling, Cloudhands, and Lisa~
    As always, thanks so much for your kind comments!

    Aisling, when we were kids we did often sample the sap as it ran from the tree. It isn’t nearly as sweet as the syrup!

    Cloudhands~I have a brother who lived in Michigan while going to MSU and I never heard of surghum syrup, although I’ve seen the fields! It sounds like the 40:1 recipe is the same. I’ll have to check that out!

    Lisa~I’m so glad I found your blog, too. You’ve been an inspiration to me in a lot of “green” ways. In fact, I’ve started “one green thing” from your Lent idea, but I think I’m a few days behind already!

    It was my daughter over at Farmer’s Daughter, in fact, who got me into blogging. When my posts got rather lengthy on her blog, she informed me it was time to start my own! I’m also so inspired by Cloudhands who blogs to keep up with her children and grandchildren!

    Today, I was so busy preparing a traditional, old, “Yankee” dinner of chicken pot pie for our daughter, Abbie’s birthday dinner, that I haven’t had a chance to visit the other Sunday Strolls, but plan on catching up now that the house is quiet!

    Happy day, everyone!

  8. Craft Gardener,

    Yes, it IS a wonderful time of year, and brings with it the hope that spring isn’t TOO far away!

  9. Jena Says:

    What a great skill for your family to have. I bet you have a lot of good memories from doing that. I’m curious, what happens to the hole you make when you’re done? Does it just scar over? I know I learned the process once but don’t remember much.

  10. Cloudhands Says:

    Ruth,
    I love learning that your daughter got you going on your blog. Have you figured out that Aisling is my daughter. She and her brother got me going. The little video child from yesterday is Aisling’s first born. We can all be inspired by our children can’t we.

  11. Cloudhands Says:

    Ruth,
    I love learning that your daughter was your inspiration for your blog. Have you figured out that Aisling is my daughter. She and her brother got me going. The little video child from yesterday is Aisling’s first born. We can all be inspired by our children can’t we. The Sorghum Mills are here in Tennessee. The sorghum cane in Michigan is a little different and is only used for cattle feed.

  12. OMG, Cloudhands, thank you for “spilling the beans!” I didn’t know that, but of course, that makes all the sense in the world! You two are perfectly matched–mother and daughter, but you’re both so clever with your “bloggy” names! Perhaps Abbie and I should not have used our real ones! Thank you so much for sharing that wonderful piece of into; hope Aisling doesn’t mind!

    Jena~the hole in the tree does scar over and heal and next year you have to search for a new spot, facing south! I grew up on my family’s farm making maple syrup and then I looked at it as just plain WORK, but now I appreciate it more!

    Gotta run, have a great day everyone!!!

    Oh by the way, today’s Abbie’s birthday for anyone who’s interested!

  13. […] know I’ve written about this  maple syruping adventure before . . . but this year is different, because we have this little guy on board to experience it […]


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