Saturday, March 19, 2011

Maple Meanderings

Oh what to write about today!  What a day it has been.  Usually I get up early and write post my blog before the day gets underway, but this morning I didn't.  And here it is 6:00 pm and I'm finally getting around to blogging.

We could talk about the weather.  It was an absolutely gorgeous spring day here.  There was actually a skiff of snow on the ground when we awoke this morning, but it melted off fairly quickly.  This afternoon is a very pleasant, +10 or so.  We went for a walk when we got home about 4:30.  There was quite a brisk north wind in our face, but is was beautiful coming back.  A neighbour has about 20 sap buckets hung on his maple trees.  I noted most of the buckets were a third to half full.  Now I'm not sure whether or not he gathered either yesterday or the day before.  He was not boiling down though.  I was looking forward to seeing smoke and steam billowing out of his little evaporator shed.

Every once and a while I get a nostalgic twig, and think it would be fun to have twenty taps, and a little evaporator, and then I remember how much unnecessary work it would make at one of the busiest seasons of the year.  I remember growing up in the maple industry.  Dad tapped as many as 1200 trees a year.  When I was about eight, he decided to go into it in a big way and invested in pipeline, a generator and a vacuum pump.  It all seemed good on paper, but mother nature had a lot of pitfalls in the plan.

Dad and Uncle Lloyd beside the sugar shack. Note the buckets, this must have been a year or two prior to the pipeline escapade.

Dad boiling down.  Note the fire in the doorway of the evaporator.

A neighbour, Frank Johnston, and Queenie, gathering sap, the traditional way.

Because the system was all on vacuum,  if you accidentally bored too deep and hit a hollow spot in the tree (it only takes one), it sucked air, rather than sap.  Dad spent countless hours tracing the lines, trying to determine where the hollow trees were, time that should have been spent boiling down.  Then there were squirrels, and raccoons that dearly loved to chew into the clear plastic tubing and grab a drink of sweet sap- again more holes to pull air.  The big feeder lines,one inch black plastic PVC pipe which were put up higher in the trees and left year round.  The problem here was that the bears like to climb the trees and chew on the plastic piping.  And more than once a moose tangled his massive antlers in the piping and pulled it halfway across the back forty.

This video show my brother loading up the neighbour's big new evaporator.

For all the syrup we use, I can easily buy a liter or two for the next fifty years, before I would ever get my investment back, just in equipment.  Oh yes and I forgot the fact that I don't have any maple trees on my property.

And that is about all I have to say for today.

Musings and meanderings from the Musical Gardener.

1 comment:

  1. Hey, great blog! I'm glad you stopped by mine yesterday so I could find yours. And this is a really timely post, since we're going to help our friend with sap collecting and boiling today.

    I love the old pics of your Dad and uncle at the sugar shack!


Much appreciated comments from my friends: