Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's syrup season!

Today marks the official beginning of Spring for our family, a day that has been eagerly awaited and much anticipated throughout the chill of Winter. Spring might not be here for you, but it begins for us when we tap the Maple trees. Daytime temperatures above freezing and nighttime temperatures dipping below freezing mean that the sap has begun to rise in the trees, before you know it they will be budding! We put in around 55 taps which is a far cry from the 550 that my Dad helped with when he was a boy! We drill ours the same way that they did though, with a bit and brace. After the hole is drilled the younger children race to plaster their mouths to the hole to drink the sap. It is only slightly sweet and not really that tasty, but they think it's great. After Mr. G pries them off the hole, he puts the taps in and hangs the buckets. The musical plink plink plink of the sap hitting the bucket begins.

They put the lids on to keep out the rain and squirrel "presents" and then off to the next tree. Last year some of our buckets didn't have lids and every morning we would find corn in the bottom of the bucket. They finally discovered that a squirrel was nesting above the bucket in the tree and would come down to drink the sap and leave corn behind. Payment maybe? ;-)


Every year previously we would boil it down in the house, but this year Aleks wanted to do it differently. He wants to boil it in the woods instead of walking all the sap the half mile back home. I can't blame him, hauling 20 5-gallon buckets full of sap every day for a month must get tiresome. A sugar house with an evaporator would have been great, but they're so expensive. So, we bought a 20-gallon cast iron kettle and they are going to hang it from a sturdy branch in the woods. We found this wonderful couple from South Carolina who specialize in antique cast iron and we bought it from them. Aleks has been chopping wood for weeks in anticipation, all the boys are excited about it and they've made a lovely, primitive sugar camp. We will still finish it off in the house, but the lion's share of boiling will be outside of the kitchen. It takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup so that's a lot of evaporation!


All of which brings me to my next point. I'm having my first blogger give-away and the prize is a pint of Maple syrup! All you have to do is leave a comment on my blog and mention it on your blog. I'm not going to check up on you, we'll just use the honor system. I'll draw a winner toward the end of March, good luck!



12 comments:

  1. Definitely enter me, that sounds delicious!!

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  2. Enter me Paris! S Sounds yummy; I can taste it on a stack of pancakes already! I'll post about your syrup giveaway on my blog tomorrow!

    ~Nona

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  3. Well I'd love to enter and mentioning it on my blog won't help your fan base :) seeing as my meager amount of followers are also a part of your club but I'll do as I'm told.

    Good Luck me!!!
    ;)

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  4. Ooo, I’m so jealous! That’s wonderful that you have land and maple trees! I think of Laura and the Little House in the Big Woods when I think of maple syrup being done the old-home way. I’m not sure though even if we had land that we would have the correct maple trees in Montana. I’ve never heard of anyone here tapping their trees. Forty gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup? Oh my goodness!

    Oh, just read about the give-away...please enter me; I'd love to taste the REAL thing!

    Thank you ;)

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  5. Since Dawn entered I'm guessing relatives are eligible to win! I'll do better than post it on my blog, I'm going to write up an article for the local newspaper about your sugaring...

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  6. You have a really nice blog.... I love the sense of history. I also visited your old picture blog and enjoyed it!

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  7. Aaahh!! Mrs. G, can we come live with you? You're actually tapping maple trees -- something I've read about in Little House -- and always dreamed of trying. How fun!!

    Enter me, please!

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  8. Home made Maple Syrup! Please, oh, please pick me!!!

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  9. Oh to have a pint of fresh maple syrup. Altho' cane is my sweetener of choice, homemade maple is absolutely wonderful! Please enter me in your contest and I'll be happy to tell all my friends!

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  10. I'm totally in! That sounds lovely.

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  11. Tapping sounds like work, but also like sooo much fun! I want to enter too!

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