Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Maple syrup sugaring on our property

~ We've lived on this three acre property for four years now, and not once had we thought of tapping our maple sugar trees. 
Well, not really. 

 (this week)

 Shortly after we moved in, my parents came for a visit. 

Out of the blue one afternoon, I remember my father looking out the back windows, just relaxing in our family room, and suddenly mentioning how it would be interesting some day to "try" and tap a couple of trees, just to see what happened. 

That whole notion since, had admittedly never left me, though to be fair, I really didn't think it would ever be something we'd even attempt. Nope, neither myself, nor my husband, even after attending all those maple syrup festivals in our little town, did we ever think we'd ever "really" do it. 

 (last week)

But, it was sugaring time now, a mere six weeks is the open window, at best to tap and await when the days grow warmer, and nightfall nightfall temperatures continue to plummet to freezing levels on the thermometer. Of that entire six weeks calendar opening, only three of those weeks will offer a truly productive sappy syrup yield. 

I wanted some of that, syrup yield that is. 

My husband and I began to talk before Christmastime, to dream, to wonder if we could, if we dared, and if we even wanted to pursue the adventure in the first place.  Maybe the whole project was too big for us, maybe not.

He went into respiratory rehabilitation in hospital, and the topic kept creeping in to our conversations. 

The trick was to remember how much snow continued to fall; where could we tap trees so we could trek out to them in deep snow, how far apart the tapping couldn't be for crisscrossing, collecting and tromping around to deposit the yield into containers for temporary storage, and so forth. 

After exploring our options by reading, watching and learning all about maple sugaring, at first we thought there would be no way.  

On the down side, everything we'd seen looked too much like a huge commercial affair; sugar shacks, 25 gallon sap barrels on tractors, boiling the sap in huge bins over an open fire, and dozens of helpers moving about assisting in the process.  

Right. Uh-huh. Right.

No, no, that wasn't what we thought we could do, certainly we required something more ma and pa on a much smaller scale than that.

And then, I found some information for rookie sugaring folks like us, and I'm still smiling over that. 

Confidence grew, WE COULD DO THIS, and soon my husband assigned me the task of finding local suppliers, and sugar shack folks near to us. It seemed in so many blogs I read two weeks ago, someone was featuring their sugaring attempts. And so, the idea was not only born, but it was time, yes it was TIME! So, with rolled-sleeves-way-up, the adventure was about to be enthusiastically executed. 

We found a famous Canadian supplier located about half an hour from our home, very handy. And, what a GREAT store it was! They were fantastic for an information highway, ideas were gobbled up for when we get bigger, ha!

We left with our purchased humble load of supplies; a few 2 gallon buckets, spigets and hangers, lids with steel rods, and our maple sugaring drill bit, (sized to accommodate our spigets).

Without a word of a lie, oh my, after our very first drilling attempt rendered immediate dripping of maple tree sugar sap, everyone was peaked, and all bolted to dip fingers into the dripping sweetness. Wow, that was quick! 

Already our little project became enhanced from - the "do-we-have-to" attitude bit from kids" into "standing upright and suddenly energetic kind of kids", right into almost "taking over the project kind of kids".... truthfully. In fact, they did! I have photos to prove it! :)

Surprise, surprise, we already have some sugaring going on here. Woohooooooooo! 

As this blog is uploading, our eager children have been checking the buckets three times a day, and our first gathered batch of sugar sap is boiling away, and tonight we will have our very first home grown, homemade, Canadian maple syrup. Now, that's very, very exciting! 

Maybe the breakfast menu will change for tomorrow. Pancakes sound just perfect to me. 

...definitely to be continued...

(PS Is anyone else having issues with how Blogger is changing font sizes when posting a draft? Sheesh!)