If you are a long time reader, you know that we have three very large Sugar Maples in the front yard of our house. This allows us to do our very own back to the farm routine every spring: tapping the trees and making Maple Syrup.
It sounds like a romantic exercise, and is often portrayed that way. Well, let’s shatter a few myths this morning, shall we?
First, in order to extract the sap from the trees, you have to know exactly where to drill the hole. Yes, drill into a beautiful old tree; once you get past the general tree-hugger, “trees are our friends” mindset, you realize that this is no worse than you getting a blood sample taken. In fact, all of the tap holes from last year have healed over, or couldn’t even be found.
The objective when choosing a location to tap is to find the trees arteries. I have learned the secret technique: find a spot where there in a large exposed root, and see if it traces up to a large branch. Jackpot. The best kind combine this with a line in the wood that looks exactly like Schwarzenegger’s neck veins after a couple of hours of heavy lifting.
Once the tap is hammered in and the bucket|recycled milk jug is hung from the tree, all you have to do is collect the goodness every 4-8 hours.
Now comes the paint and plaster peeling component of the job.
Maple sap contains 1 gallon of syrup for every 40 gallons of sap. This means that Samantha has been boiling the trees’ gifts to us non-stop for the last 3 days. The house is just now starting to smell like maple, as we keep supplementing our base with more and more sap.
Saving money on the humidifier, let me tell you.
The trick to doing this in a suburban neighbourhood is getting past the disbelief and concern for property values that the neighbours show. They seem to think that this harvest of nature’s bounty is unnatural and should be zoned out of existence or regulated in some way. The best way to overcome resistance is to bribe them with some of the end-product. Every neighbour we bribed in this way has smiled and started drooling when they spot the buckets on our trees.
It is a great experience, and a reminder that there is a very interesting world beyond this plastic box I pound on every day.