I just went outside to check my buckets and found five more gallons of sap. It’s been flowing pretty well these past few days.
When I first tapped the trees in early March, I was lucky to get a gallon every few days, but since I moved part of my operation up to the Rock Maples towards the front of the property, things have been much better. The two days before yesterday, I hauled in over 18 gallons of sap. I’ve been boiling away on our wood stove like crazy. And from that, I just finished my most recent batch of syrup. I earned myself a half gallon.
I’ve had a few phone conversations over the last week. There are generally two questions I get. The first one is whether or not we still have any snow. Earlier this week, my answer was that we had about a foot and a half. I really don’t like to exaggerate, so I always give a conservative estimate. Today, I’d say we have about a foot. I guess this is the same as last year at this time. About four inches of snow fell last night, but the temps are supposed to reach 60 next week, so I think this is the beginning of the end. Here’s a picture to add to my collection of, “What did it look like last year at this time?”
The second question I get is about my syrup I’m making. When I tell people what I’m up to, I say things like, “Yeah, I got another quart today.” They respond, “Now, is that sap or syrup?” It’s syrup. The sap collection is in gallons and the syrup is in cups and quarts. My first batch (which I am still extremely proud of) yielded me an eighth of a cup. I bragged about it to anyone who would listen. I don’t think they quite understood that my first batch was the tip of the iceberg because the responses I got were somewhat subdued. But now that I’m talking about having over a gallon of Maine’s freshest and best tasting syrup, people are beginning to listen. I hear whispers of name calling – “Jay the syrup master.” and “Please run for Governor. You are my Maple syrup king.” Yeah, folks are starting to take notice.
I just took this picture of our syrup. Mind you, we’ve been eating it since I started making it. We put it on top of our oatmeal and cereal. Laura just made me a cup of tea with syrup in it. Real syrup contains zinc. Did you know that?
The reason I decided to break away from my normal routine of writing about coding (on my other blog – hint, hint) was because of my latest bucket check. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I took a quick walk in the woods to see how my front five buckets were performing. I have a total of fourteen trees tapped and the front ones are the best performers, by far. Those five alone gave my seven and a half gallons a few days ago. That’s a lot.
Anyway, during my trip in the woods to my buckets, I realized that I was walking in what very well may be the last fresh snow of this winter season. I thought I should grab the camera to take some photos. I also thought that perhaps those of you out there who don’t get the chance to see sap buckets hanging from trees very often would like to see what they look like. Modern ones, anyway.
When I go out the front door of the house, all I need to do is head across the yard and walk straight into the woods. I made a narrow path through the snow so I don’t have to keep stomping around randomly, almost falling over.
I’ve got all five buckets in this one area fairly clustered together. That’s just where the good trees happened to be. It also happens to be easier to check the buckets when they’re close like this.
These two buckets are part of the pack. As you can see, they hold five gallons and are attached to the tree via a small hook. I also have some sweet plastic spiles and tubes that snugly fit into the lids of the buckets. From what I’ve found, it’s necessary to have lids. If you don’t, you’ll have to toss some of your winnings because of all the snow that fell into your buckets. Also, if you ever decide to tap a Maple tree, do it on the west side. That’s the only side that flows sap during the early days of the season.
Lastly, we’ve got a picture of some untouched Maple sap. It looks just like water, but you can tell it’s sap because there’s always bubbles on top. That, my friends, turns into the best buttery tasting syrup in the world!