Saturday, March 13, 2010

Snow melting fast, sap running slow

Roughly 90% of our snow is gone now. Feels a little different to walk on the bare earth once again. Yesterday when I first stepped outside you could smell the damp newly exposed ground. Today I went walking around and checked on a few things for the first time since the snow came and went.

I checked our bee hive. The bees did not survive the winter. They did leave some honey though, which I will leave for the new bees that we'll get in April.

I checked on our spring fed pond which was pretty full with the spring thaw. There was only a little ice left floating on top.

We got some of our maple trees tapped back on March 4th. Been very little sap running with night time temperatures often above freezing.

We set up an area up by the cabin where we are boiling what little sap we've been getting.

So far we have boiled sap on three different occasions. The first time we boiled down 12 or 13 gallons and got one quart of dark rich syrup. The darkest by far we've ever had. Plus I cooked it a little too long and it is really thick. We had some on pancakes the other day and had to spread it with a butter knife rather than pour it like we usually do. Is was really good though.

The second time we boiled we only had 2 1/2 gallons of sap. Some neighbors brought over some of their sap, about the same amount and we boiled both. After about an hour and a half it was ready to take in and finish. We gave it to them to take home. It was fun just sitting around the fire visiting. They wound up with about a pint of syrup. Lighter in color than the first batch.

Today we had about 6 gallons of sap so this afternoon I began to boil it. Once it boiled down I took it out of the big pan and put it in a smaller kettle. I'm finishing it on the stove right now. Looks like we will get a little over a pint of finished syrup.

As you might can tell from the pictures we don't have anything fancy for boiling sap. It's just a stainless steal pan I had a local guy make for us. He put a drain tube on it and I have yet to get around to installing a spigot. So all I do is drive in a wooden cork. When we want to drain the pan I slip in a long rod from inside and hit the end of the cork with a hammer which drives it out. It's simple but, it works. And the pan it's self sits on 4 metal stakes that I drive into the ground. The pan is stiff enough that I can do that without it warping. It's quick and easy to set up and quick and easy to take down. Then we have pieces of metal sheeting that I sometimes lean up against the sides which seems to help concentrate the heat right under the pan.

Many people put up a smoke stack but, we just let the smoke go which ever way it wants. We don't mind a little bit of a smokey taste.

We are hoping the sap will start running better than this. The long range weather forecast called for colder night time temperatures by next weekend so we are hoping that will help.

Until Next Time


Blogger WooleyBugger said...

very interesting posts. I've wanted to do this for a while now.

10:30 PM  
Blogger RL said...

Thanks! Making maple syrup is easy. Like I said in the post if you can boil water you can make maple syrup. Cutting fire wood is the hard part. But, I enjoy that part to.

11:28 AM  

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