Back Yard Maple Syrup '05

This is our second go for making maple syrup from the three trees in our yard. Here's a blog detailing this spring's adventure.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

More Sap and the FINAL Cooking!

Our neighbor's tree is dry and has been for almost a week now. Our front yard tree has been fairly productive for the last few days and the back yard trees have been flowing slow but not dry. We got about 5 more gallons from those trees which we cooked up this evening. The syrup was still good but stronger and a little less sweet than the other two cookings. We got another 2.5 cups this go around.

So it's all over.

I took the bags down and yanked the taps. 68° today and 73° predicted for tomorrow.

Friday, April 01, 2005

It's lookin' bleak

Could this be the end. Bummer. We've collected just 20 gallons of sap this season and it's been really short. The temperatures the last few days have been warm and the sap flow has all but dried up. Only one tree has anything, and that's just a little bit. Oh well...maybe next year.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Second Cooking Done!(Maybe the last?)

I think this may have been the end of it. The sap has stopped. Only one of the four trees had anything today. It was 66° this afternoon with a low of 38°. It's not been below freezing for almost three days and it looks to stay that way for at least another five days...bad for sap.

We cooked it all up tonight. Started the fire at about 7:00PM and finished it all off at 11:30PM. Cooked off a little over 10 1/2 gallons of sap and got 4 cups of yummy amber goodness.

The fire was hotter today with less wind and it really went well.

I just wish the run could last longer but I think it's about done for this year. I really screwed the pooch on the decision to wait due to the cold weather in early March. I think the flow would have been slow but we should have doubled at least what we ended up with. Total of a little under a half gallon of finished syrup. Two years ago we came up with almost two gallons off of about 100 gallons of sap. We're at about 20 gallons this year. Bummer.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Bulging Bags

We arrived back from our Easter road trip to Brainerd to visit Deb's parents to find the tap bags bulging...but not quite as much as I would have thought. Taking a closer look the sap flow had dropped off to a trickle. Unlike yesterday when it was really going well.

We had about 4 gallons today, on top of the over 5 from yesterday. I think the flow is going to stop here soon as the weather is looking even warmer than before. I'll probably cook it all tomorrow.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A River of Sap

Wow! Yesterday it was really jammin' . We got over five gallons of sap in just one day! Today looks to be just as good. We're heading out of town and I'm hopeful that when we get back tomorrow evening the bags won't be overflowing.

The weather looks nice over the next week...maybe a little too nice. Lows are expected to stay above freezing with highs around 55° to 60°. I suspect the flow will slow considerably in a couple days.

Friday, March 25, 2005

It's GOOD!

We had our first taste of this year's goodness this AM with some waffles. I'm really pleased with the results. Just three cups and we chewed through a bunch this morning, but it's so, so good.

There was barely a drop of sap yesterday, but today it's started to pick up again. In fact, taking a quick look, it's flowing like mad! About three drips per second. Fast.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

First Cooking Done!

The fire was started at about 7:00PM tonight and by 11:30 we were done. Seems like a long time to hassle over just THREE CUPS of syrup. But Boy oh boy is it good!

The back yard to totally muddy which has made a mess of things, but nothing we can't handle.

Cleaned out the kettle gathered up some fire wood and away we went. Took a while to warm up to a boil but then we were doin' well.

We started tonight with 7.2 gallons of sap and the prediction was for 2.9 cups of syrup.

Check out the other image and see how we did!

Not bad for an amateur!

Running Light

Not sure what's going on but all the taps are running really slow, even though the weather seems favorable for a good run. Temps have been below freezing the last two nights with highs in the 40s both days, but the sap run yesterday wasn't even 1/3 of the day before and today looks even worse. Five of the seven tap bag have nothing in them for today. Weird.

We're going to have our first boil tonight. Looks like we have 7 1/2 gallons of sap which should reduce to a little over a pint of syrup. We'll see how long it takes.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

All Taps Underway!

Trip and I went over to Bradley's yard last night at about 6:00PM and tapped his big silver maple. We put in two taps and the sap started flowing immediately.

Then I went in our back yard and checked out the small tree. Dry hole! No action...at all. So I'm thinkin' 'ok...nice day, the other taps and trees are producing...but this one is dry...it's gotta be the hole' So I took out the tap and drilled another hole. -- Nothing -- Greeeeaaattt! So now I've got two holes in the smallest tree which appears to not have started running yet...I have to plug up one of the holes now. I think I'll use a wine cork...and leave that project for later today.

This morning I emptied the bags from the five producing taps and got about 2 gallons of sap from yesterday. Before leaving this morning at about 9:00 I put in the last tap on the silver maple in our front yard. So now we have seven taps going. Two on our front tree, two on the bigger back tree, one on the smaller back tree, and two on our neighbor's tree.

Should be another good running day.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

A Little Concerned

What a beautiful day. Sunny and 38°. The sun is out and high in the sky with light winds. We had a great snowball fight today with Trip and Mom getting the worst of it all. Fun.

I went to the store and got the correct sized drill bit and re-drilled the holes and re-seated the taps. I wrapped the all in teflon tape to try to correct the big-dummy move from yesterday...time will tell on that.

I ordered a couple more spiles and covers which were shipped on Friday...they should arrive today or tomorrow. My neighbor said we could tap their tree, so we'll get over tomorrow and do that.

Concerned because it's the second day in a row of good weather and only one tap seems to be running. It's already mid season and the flow seems a bit slow. The tap on the small tree is completely dry. Got a couple drips when we tapped it yesterday, but nothing today.

I'd guess we got a quart from our front-yard tap and a cup from one back yard, just drops from the other with the last dry. Tomorrow should be telling.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Tapping Day - Finally

Got some good snow on Friday (five inches) and it was colder but the forecast look promising for some good temps. It's really been cool the last week or so.

DateLowHigh
Fri, Mar 11, 200512°34°
Sat, Mar 12, 200523°
Sun, Mar 13, 200511°28°
Mon, Mar 14, 200512°24°
Tue, Mar 15, 200518°37°
Wed, Mar 16, 200518°32°
Thu, Mar 17, 200519°36°
Fri, Mar 18, 200524°30°

So Trip and I went out this morning and tapped the trees. Of course I didn't have the correct size drill bit. I needed a 7/16" and only had a 3/8" And, of course, trying to compensate for the smaller bit I bored the hole a little. And, of course, I made it TOO BIG. So when I tapped in the spiles the sap started running, but it began leaking between the tree and the spile (not good). So there's my first bonehead move of the project. Wrong tools makes for bad work, in just about everything.

So now we have four taps going, three of the four are slightly running and each of them are leaking (dang it!) and the fourths is dry so far.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Weather isn't Cooperating

Well, I think we missed a good run this week as the temps were in the 40s for four straight days with below freezing temps at night (it hit 60° on Sunday the 6th)... Just what you need for a good sap run. I guess I didn't want to get the taps started just yet as the temps were gonna get cooler...but mostly because I was procrastinating. Maybe when the weather looks better for another good run we'll get 'em tapped.

I did the inventory and found the spiles (taps) and collection bags and covers. Only four bags left so I need to order some more.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Gett'n the Itch

The sun is getting higher and higher in the sky, and a quick peek at the calendar shows March already. Things with the skating rink are winding down and now we're starting to focus on maple Syrup.

Two years ago we got busy tapping our trees and producing our own maple syrup. That was really fun for all. Last year the marching orders were to NOT tap the trees as one of us remembers how much work it was and there were other projects to do (which, of course, never got done).

We're gonna do it again this year. At least that's the plan. Gotta hit the storage area and try to find all the gear.