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Our simple maple syrup operation

*Tomorrow — giveaway announcement!!
The other day, I took a walk with Jim to check the boiling sap.
We have a pretty simple method of sap collection.
About five years ago, our son and a friend decided to tap trees because that’s what two typical teenage boys do, right? Yep, they weren’t typical teenagers!
Anyhow as plans were made, the dads got involved. You see, Jon and Branden have been friends since babyhood. And their dads? Lifelong friends. Pretty neat, I think!
So, it became a father/son adventure venture.

They didn’t put any money into it in the beginning. Tapping trees and hanging capped jugs on them. During good runs, they have to be emptied twice a day.

We have about 10 acres of woods and many of them maples. Right now there are about 120 taps in about 110 trees. Jim has done a lot of research (plus visits to a couple of sugar shacks to learn a little more) and discovered a maple syrup supply store, so he came up with a couple of ways to simplify and modernize the whole operation.

Things are a little fancier this year too. Don’t mind the dogs. They love it when we take a walk, even though they have full access to these woods all day.

Jim thought the sap collection process would be a little easier if they modernized things a bit. Note the tubing reaching from multiple taps to one covered bucket. It was met with a little resistance until the others discovered that it did, indeed, make collection much easier.

This is my favorite tree. Or is it trees? Isn’t it neat?

Also, a new way to store sap until it’s time for boiling. They can bank snow around it to keep the sap cool during warmer days. When the sap is collected, it can be pumped from the collection tank that sits on the back of the four-wheeler to this large tank.

Jim built this sap boiler. It’s the second one that he built and larger than the first one that they used in the early years.

Checking on the sap. The boiling of the sap. It’s a looooong process.

He skims it and checks it and…whatever else he does while he’s checking it.

After the filtering and bottling, everything is washed and waiting for the next boiling.

A new way to filter the syrup, much easier than holding a funnel. They filter the syrup multiple times.

The end product.  Approximately 250 gallons of sap =  23 quarts of syrup. We’ve had two boilings so far and will probably have another one or two more, depending on the weather.

     “The sap, you know, is the blood of a tree. It comes up from the roots, when warm weather begins in the spring, and it goes to the very tip of each branch and twig, to make the green leaves grow.”
     “Well, when the maple sap came to the hole in the tree, it ran out of the tree, down the little trough and into the bucket.”
     “Oh, didn’t it hurt the poor tree?” Laura asked.
     “No more than it hurts you when you prick you finger and it bleeds,” said Pa.
~Sugar Snow chapter
Little House in the Big Woods
by Laura Ingalls Wilder

**Check back tomorrow for a sweet giveaway!

6 thoughts on “Our simple maple syrup operation

  1. That is so neat. Ever since I first read "Little House in the Big Woods" as a little kid, I've wanted to see this process. Since I live in Texas, it's not very likely. I enjoy your blog; I'm just a simple livin' mom who loves Laura Ingalls Wilder too, so I can relate!

  2. I think it's so wonderful that you guys can collect your own sap and make your own maple syrup. Bet it smells good while cooking too! 🙂

  3. It really is a fun venture isn't it? Even for a tiny operation here, we're getting lots of sap this year. Last year warmed up fast here, so we didn't get quite as much. This year I'm looking forward to maple glazed ribs! Yum!

  4. OH, I love the system you have to collect more than one tree into a covered bucket. When I helped with sugaring once, I was scared to death I would dump a bucket, as they weren't covered! What a smart man you have there!xoxoJoni

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