It is hard to believe that we are already in our second season of making our Finding Home maple syrup. Last week, the time finally came to tap the trees. The season is pretty late, by about two weeks, because the weather has just been so cold. We must admit, however, that we are thankful for the delay this year because there was so much to do as we more than tripled our number of trees this year.
I am finding that so many people have questions about making maple syrup so I thought I would share the process with you here and explain how it all works. Now keep in mind, this is coming from my perspective. Dana is the guy for the really technical questions, I share more from a simplified perspective so you can understand how it all works.
Dana has been out in the woods, along with some friends and my brother-in-law who have been willing to help us out, running all of the lines. Right now, the woods look like this.
The land we where we lease our trees is quite a perfect “sugar bush” because not only is there a lot of maple trees, but it is also all along a ridge which is a hillside. Gravity down a hill is your friend in sugaring. There is also very little underbrush so it is easier to get from tree to tree.
Luckily, a good portion of the lines were run before the snow came. The one thicker blue line down the middle, called the “main line”, is wired onto the trees and all of the other lines run to it. The main line runs down the hill to the collecting tank at the bottom of the hill. All of the other lines are just wrapped around trees at each end and tension holds them in place.
The snow is pretty deep right now, so the only way to trek through is with snowshoes. I am not going to lie to you, it is hard work. I do not know how Dana does it day after day. I am so thankful for the example that he is setting for our girls with how hard he works. He expects them to be out there as well, working hard and being part of the business. And thankfully, they work hard without complaint. It always amazes me how much they actually can accomplish out there.
The actual process of tapping the trees is not complicated. You drill a hole in the tree that is higher than the line running to the tree. We used to use a hand drill when we only did 100 trees, now we use power drills.
Then we hammer in taps. They are plastic and replaced each year so as to have a clean point of contact with the tree every time the tree is tapped.
All of the lines have drop lines that come off it to go to each tree. Each of the drop lines have a connector at the end that connects right to the tap with a few slight swings of a hammer.
And now we wait for the weather conditions to be just right.
Below freezing at night and above 40 degrees during the day is a basic way of gauging when the sap will run.
Here is a sneak peek of it just starting to trickle. Can you see it?
All of that said, it is really about that joy it brings to our family. How can you not love it when you see their faces so happy?
Soon (hopefully), we will have the sugar house running full time. I will share how the whole process happens on that end of things. It is a great balance of long standing practices and modern technology.
Please let me know any other questions you may have and I will do my best to answer them.
Thanks so much for reading!