It would seem that Groundhogs are bad at predicting the weather. Our winter this year struck hard in the month of March reminding us of its cold fury. I have been wondering if it will go out like a lamb or like a lion? Thankfully we have had some days with upper 30’s and with sunshine it feels like a heat wave! Winter can’t hold out to much…the signs of spring are beginning and hope is just around the door.
One of the surest signs of spring for us this month has been the rise and fall of the river with the spring thaw and freeze. One week it is rising then next it is frozen solid. This same freeze/thaw cycle is the reason we have Maple Sap runs in the woods right now. The rising temperatures get the freeze/thaw cycle moving for the sap runs in March. As of now we have collected just under two gallons of sap from 6 taps. Mind you this is paltry to the 30: 1 ration of gallons to sap to finished Maple Syrup. I think that we will hit a more regular flow this week with temps starting to ebb upwards into the 40’s. This is fine by me as the wood stove that I plan on finishing the Maple Syrup off in arrives next weekend.
This being my first year the learning curve is steep. Reading extension bulletins, DNR guides, and magazine articles I put together a somewhat planned and organized attempt.
What is going well: 3/25/13
- Purchased Taps arrived on time
- Re-purposing plastic food grade tubs attach nicely to tree and are easy to pour out with a turn.
- 7/16 drill bit for my brace was on sale!
- One of the trees is out producing the others dramatically. So I tapped it again on (3/24)
- Using Re-purposed Ice Cream buckets for storage in fridge until boil down.
- We have around 2 gallons of sap so something must be working!
- Wood burning Stove arrives soon!
What is not going well:
- One tree has been completely dry.
- Squirrel is onto me. Gnawed a bucket to get in. Squirrel=0 Me=1
- Stag-horn Sumac tap creates an amber color as it drains thru the Hollow Branch
- One tap was too shallow and it leaked Sap the first day. Bad tap = little sap
- The lids the containers have rub up against the bark so that debris falls into sap. This will be filtered….but…
- I maybe should have ordered a few extra taps
Update as of 4/8/13
- We had a run last week basically from March 28th to about April 6th.
- Pulling in maybe 8-12 gallons a day on 6 taps.
- Boiling down on the woodstove is slow but worth it in the long run. I love the hint of smokey flavor.
- Finishing inside has been a learning process. Our first batch was highly concentrated and a beautiful dark amber. The next batches were not concentrated enough and hence were a lighter grade honey like color. This has been adjusted.
- I almost couldn’t keep up with the sap. We were running out of containers and I had a lot.