Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Time to Tap the Trees

Cold nights and warmer days mean the sap is flowing, so we took our tools to the sugar bush and tapped the maples, and a black walnut for comparison. The kids made their own spiles from sumac, I helped them drill the tap holes, and it's like magic--the sap runs! Here are a few photos of the day:

We cut the sumac into spile-sized segments, and hollowed out the spongy pith.

Using our trusty pocket knives, we trimmed the spiles to fit the tap holes.

I give a quick talk on 45 degree angles, and drill the tap hole.

I hang a jug under the tap to collect our precious sap.

Click to zoom in and see the watery sap dripping off the end of the spile:

On an interesting note, the sap of the walnut was thicker, darker and sweeter. When we boil it down, I'll let you know how it compares with the traditional maple syrup. Also, the bamboo in the photos did not hold up well in the spile-making process--it was too brittle in the cold (and it was cold!!). The traditional sumac, smooth or staghorn, works best.

One more photo so you can see the beautiful bayside setting for our sugaring, and note that the kids had some time to play in the deep, deep snow:

Special thanks to our friend Mary's mother-in-law for letting us tap her trees.


Leticia said...

What a wonderful experience for the kids, they look totally absorbed.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Wow - that looks delightful! I'm really curious to find out how the walnut sap works out. (We only have one maple and the kids are really into the whole thing.)