As the Sap Drips…

huge chucks of ice days after removal

 My industrious friend down the road has already made gallons and gallons of syrup…he taps close to 100 trees I think. He has shallow evaporating pans, and a very focused operation, but no “collection tubes” aside from himself! He usually is just about done making syrup by the time you hear about the Agroforestry syrup-making workshops and info sessions in March.

lifting out the ice from storage buckets

At our place, we are only tapping 8 trees, a couple of them with two taps each. We usually manage to make just enough syrup to last our family for the year, more or less. Like my friend down the road, I prefer to begin early, as then the chances of removing large chunks of ice from the collection buckets greatly increase. In March, one is battling warmer weather when the sap can easily spoil and often doesn’t run if the temperature stays above 32 at night….So here are some pictures of the sort of ice that can be removed after cold nights. These chucks of ice are entirely water as long as you let them drip for a minute before entirely removing. Then, what is left in the bucket is much more concentrated sap. . In other words, what is left in the bucket has already had maybe an hour’s worth of boiling time removed. Rumour has it that this is how the native Americans collected sap. My friend down the road claims that he has come close to producing actual syrup this way, by repeatedly removing the ice day after day when the weather cooperates. I am currently waiting eagerly for the  freezing temperatures predicted for this weekend as it will enable me to reduce my collected amount and shorten fire time. I am so minimally equipped, that two days of energetic dripping will max out our storage space. This means that on a day like today, I had better get out there and start the fire as  the temperature dropped below 32 last night, but only long enough to ensure that the trees will be dripping again today and there is no ice to speak of on the collected sap to remove, and all the buckets are full.

preventative measures…don’t let that water freeze up in the gutters….

 Meanwhile, sap collection and reduction is not the only labour going on around here. The snow on the roof had to be removed, and dogsleds had to be fashioned. My younger kids retrieved old skis from the attic and built two bobsleds for Lucy the dog to pull. Always eager to please, the dog gave it her full effort…..

sled fashioned from old skis

Iditerod, Here we come!

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