Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Strange Weather, and the Beginning of Maple Season

January is done and over (and February half way there) and speaking of January.. it was one of the mildest we've had to date!! So mild in fact that the unthinkable happened.

Josiah tapped our Maple Trees the last few days of January! This (as far as I know) has never happened before here in Michigan! 

Josiah was a little nervous about starting so early, in case of a long run.. but he didn't want to miss out on this first bit.

So off he went through the fast melting snow with his stack of buckets.

Mr. Precision himself had his clipboard with him. This time he not only is recording each tree's sugar content but also the volume of sap they produce! Details, details! :)

Dad and I (oh, and Sadie) went along with him when he started tapping the hill and swamp trees. We helped him with hammering in the taps, setting the buckets, and writing down stats. 
"Drip... Drip... Drip..."  On those warmer sunny days we had early in February the buckets filled up rather fast!

After a great run over a couple days, Josiah knew he had to get his Sugar Shack up quick. And I am SO kicking myself that I didn't take the time to take photos of this in progress..

Josiah did an incredible job as always with limited supplies. This is a temporary structure. Well a permanent temporary one. What I mean to say is, he is planning on building a bigger more wind proof and well, "real" Sugar Shack in the near future but on this site. 

Now from the last 2 pictures you might be thinking.. "Wow! How does Josiah fit in there!? It looks kind of short!"

Well fit he does! Quite nicely! You see, using Faith's little blue Tractor, he dug into our hill at the top of the bowl, where it starts sloping down toward the bog.  
Setting up the insides! 

This is one of our biggest Maples out back. It has a beautiful branch spread. Three buckets on this one!!

For a wind break, Josiah stapled clear plastic feed bags all around the structure.  

Here's the side view =, going down the hill. 

And the front all finished, with a door, complete with a country latch. :) 
This current Temporary Sugar Shack is 10x10. But as you can kind of see in this photo, the area is much larger, and Josiah is planning the final project to be somewhere around 20x15! He also is planning on leaving the tree stump, and making a table!! Josiah, never ceases to amaze me with his creativity and talent!

With 34 trees tapped, a total of 65 taps, combined with the good stretch of warm weather, he was able to start boiling in the sugar shack right away.  In all, he collected 90 gallons of sap which boiled down to more than two gallons of syrup. (yum!)  Some of the syrup was made into maple sugar, which is a very interesting process. I am unaware of the currant happenings on the farm (though I do know it's been too cold for the trees to run the last week plus, but might get there this coming week) because I am not at home! But that's another story all in itself.