The First Sap Boil of the Season in Progress
The Dog Tags Along While We Collect Sap
With a container full of taps, a pile of buckets, a bit and brace and a hammer, we headed out to the woods behind the house in February to tap maple trees. It’s been at least 15 years since we last made maple syrup and getting ready for the season this year has been a big effort.
We began preparing last fall with a walk in the woods before the leaves fell off the trees to mark the sugar maples. A spot of white paint now denotes each maple to be tapped. We stopped at 70 trees; that's the most we thought we could handle this year. When we cut firewood for the house last fall, we tossed aside the irregular pieces for burning in the arch. The dedicated sap boiling pile is approximately two face cords.
Our new evaporator arrived in late January. It has a three-section 2' by 4' pan that is rated for up to 100 taps. The arch was moved into a temporary shelter that is serving as this year’s sugar house and was fire bricked in place. It will take some effort to move later to a more permanent home. Stovepipe vents the wood burner to the outside.
We bought 2-gallon plastic buckets from a plastic container warehouse for collecting the sap. They had to be drilled to hang on the tap hooks. We used aluminum flashing to make peaked lids that fasten on the rim of the buckets. Our old livestock watering tub was hauled out of storage to serve as a collecting tank. The tub was washed and disinfected and strapped in place on the 3-point hitch platform on the back of the tractor.
The trees were tapped in two phases – one batch in mid-February and the remainder at the end of the month. Winter is hanging on here and as of March 13, we’ve only had one small run of sap. It was enough to make a little more than a gallon of syrup. We're looking forward to the next warmup!
Our new arch and evaporator were fabricated by a small manufacturer in Maine. We shopped around for quite a while and found this one to be reasonably priced compared to commercially-available evaporators. We've only used it once so far, and it performed very well. For more information on this outfit and others the shop manufactures, click on this link: http://www.wfmasonwelding.com/
Returning from Collecting Sap