February 16, 2013

Getting Sappy

For a long time I've wanted to go to Vermont in the winter time and take a horse-drawn sleigh around the woods collecting sap for maple syrup making. This dream, no doubt, came from The Saddle Club when I was little and obsessed with the series and one of the books focused on that exact scenario.

It sounds so idyllic,  does it not?

After describing it vividly to Tyler he also developed a keenness for the idea. We haven't made it to Vermont yet, but we realized the syrup making part of the dream was more attainable than we thought.

What do you need to make maple syrup? Maple trees. And we have them in our own backyard. AND they are sugar maples (they are the best kind for making syrup)! So back in September we decided we were going to do this. We were going to make maple syrup.

Tyler got me the supplies for part of my Christmas present and then we just had to wait for the conditions to be right.

On a weekend in January where the day was unseasonably warm and the nights were still below freezing we decided it was time.

On Saturday morning we chose our tree...

And we gathered our supplies...

{ Clean bucket, drill with 1/2" drill bit, spile & hook, and hammer }
First step was to drill a hole in the tree about 3 feet off the ground...

 We drilled approximately 2 inches into the tree at a very slight angle so that when the spile would be ever-so-slightly angled down to help with sap flow.

The sap started flowing out almost immediately, so we knew we picked a good day!

Next, we inserted the spile making sure not to forget the hook, so we'd be able to hang our buckets.

We gently tapped it in with a hammer until it was quite snug in the tree.

And sure enough clear, thin sap started dripping out. We couldn't help ourselves, we had to taste it right out of the tree and it was rather tasteless with just a hint of sweetness.

 We hung our bucket and covered most of the top with tin foil to prevent debris or animals from getting into our sap. I would recommend using the lids that they make specifically for this process, because i think they also keep out rain water pretty well (we had problems with rain a few days later).

And that was it. Our tree was tapped for sap! and we just had to wait until we had enough to start the syruping process.

We didn't have romantic snow falling around us, nor the sound of sleigh bells, but it was a beautiful day (I was wearing a tank top as you can see above) and it seemed to be perfect conditions for optimal sap flow. The best part is that it was in our own backyard and we were able to keep an eye on the whole wondrous process. By 9am the next day our bucket was 3/4 full!! Ready to made into syrup. But that's a story for next time... 


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