Back Yard Maple Syrup '06

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

Monday, April 03, 2006

4/3 It's all over

I took down the bags and yanked the taps this morning. We had no sap for the last four days on five of our seven taps.

After such a crazy run there and seeming like I'd never keep up with the volume...just like that, it's all over for another year.

I think the family had fun watching me do all the work this season. I guess that means it was fun for everyone...I think.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

4/1 Final Cooking

Stoked up the fire one last time today for the little sap we had. It only took a couple hours to cook it all off and that's it. Now all I have to do is cann it and we're done for the year.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

3/29 Sap Production Slmost Stopped

I thinks that's going to be it. We got another 3 or 4 gallons in the last two days but the taps have run dry on our neighbor's tree and are really light on the two trees in the back...on ly the one in front is still producing. Temperatures should be warm with not much freezing night times ahead.

Monday, March 27, 2006

3/27 Finally Caught Up

I didn't think it would happen this year, but I finally got all caught up yesterday. The fire was started at 9:15AM and we pretty much cooked away all day. Trip had two hockey games so before leaving for the first at 10:30 I stoked up the fire nicely. When we got back the fire was way low but east to stoke back up again. Then we were off for game two at 3:45. Upon our 5:30 return I fired it back to life and kept boiling all night until 10:30 when it was good enough to strain and bring in.

The sap is running slow. Today it got up to 48° and they were running nice until mid-afternoon when they just stopped. Emptied everything and there is now no sap anywhere> It's all cooked! The forecast is calling for above freezing temps over the next few that means the run may be coming to a close for this season.

I had a tree service come and deliver a cord of firewood dumped in the driveway. A huge pile of wood. It took a couple hours to stack it all up. We of course had a nice fire inside, so that'll last us a couple years.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

3/25 Big Cooking Day

This morning it started at about 8:15 and it kept going until Henry's birthday party at the roller rink at 12:30. I stoked up the fire one last time and we left. Got back to the house at 3:30 and the kettle was still steaming. Nice!

I put away what was in there in a pail until later. We went to Trip's hockey game and (lost 6-3 but he got a goal!). Got back and started up the fire again at 6:15. Just finished it up at about 12:00AM. We got through about 20 gallons today. This is real progress.

Now we have about three quarts of finished syrup and another half gallon ready to finish, now I've just got to can it all.

So now there's about 17 gallons left to cook...Hope to get all that done tomorrow. We're getting a cord of oak delivered tomorrow too, which should help.

The trees have stopped producing. There was very little in the bags today even though the temps were in the low 40s. It was cloudy so maybe that had something to do with it. It should pick back up again real soon. We're approaching the 100+ gallon production and I'm pretty confident that'll be passed this season.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

3/25 Another Cooking and Slower Flow

Cooked up another batch yesterday. Started the fire at 6:30PM and finished it off at 1:00AM for 10 gallons. The wood I have to burn is kinda wet so the fire's not as hot so it's taking longer, but still about 1 1/2 gallons per hour in the tub.

I finally ordered some real firewood which will come tomorrow.

The buckets which I had full before the cold are still frozen. I knew there was some liguid in there so decided to go ahead and biol those. The big ice block was tricky to maneuver into the kettle, but in it went.

There are eight buckets full of sap out there waiting to cook. I started another cooking this morning at 8:15 and it's going strong. I hope to be almost caught up by the end of the weekend.

So far we've collected over 85 gallons of sap from our seven taps. I would say we might be 2/3 through the season (guess).

Just a Muddy Mess

Of course with all the melting snow it's become a complete mud bath out there. Each time I step my boots become stuck in the mud and almost get sucked right off my feet. So the mud should dry a bit but for now it's a serious mess.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

3/23 I Can't Keep Up

Woke up this morning and there was another 5 1/2 gallons of sap in the bags. I can't take it. I cooked all night last night until 2AM and over the last 24 hours I've added that same amount. I'm just not sure when I'm going to be able to catch up.

3/22 Next Cooking

Came home tonight and the bag on the front tree was almost to the top! I've got over 35 gallons out back to cook.

Started the fire by about 7:00PM. It's so muddy back there I can barely walk around. My boots are getting stuck about every step I take.

I cooked off about 13 gallons tonight and finished it up by about 2:00AM. Now I just have to cook off another half or whole gallon to get it complete.

I still have 30 gallons in the back waiting to go. I need to buy some firewood tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

3/20 Overwhelming Volume

I emptied two of the bags this morning before work because they had flowed all night despite 32° weather overnight. I returned home and those bags were full again. Headed out after the kids were in bed and collected another 13 gallons out of the seven taps...and two of the taps were frozen most of the day and didn't produce more than a few cups each today. 3 1/2 gallons out of one tap alone...whoa.

I'm not going to be able to keep up with this. Last night I did six hours for 11 gallons of sap and today I have another 13 gallons to deal with. Right now there is about 27 gallons of sap out waiting for the fire...fortunately 10 of the gallons are still frozen solid.

I think I'm going to buy some real firewood. We need it for inside anyway.

We'll see what happens.

Monday, March 20, 2006

3/19 Second Cooking Done

Started this one late...of course we were super busy all day and I couldn't get the fire started until after 6:00 tonight. Get 'er steamin' hot by about 30 minutes and then finished with the fire by about midnight. Only cooked about 11 gallons of sap in six hours...not too bad, 1.8 gallons per hour. I brought the concentrate inside for the final cooking and got it all done by about 1:00AM. It's still in the fridge this morning and I'll wait for a few days before canning it so the sediment can settle. Probably got another 4 to 5 cups of syrup out of tonight. And I smell like smoke (though it kinda smells good).

Of course the taps were flowing again today and we pulled in another zix gallons today. I'm getting anxious about the volume of sap...The weather looks to be really good for a run this week. Ugh.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

3/18 Cold But Flowing Again

After the big snows of this week the cold rolled in and stopped the flow in its tracks. This was a good thing...kinda. I wasn't looking forward to another cooking so soon after the last one. After our second storm of the week dropped another six inches on top of the 10 1/2 inches three days before, the cold weather was ushered in. The sap which had dripped in slowly between storms had frozen solid and we had bags full of solid ice.

The last two days have produced a LOT more sap than I would have expected. The ice froze and the sap flowed like mad, but only on the south facing taps. The north taps on the two trees in front have produced zero while the south taps have been more like a faucet. On the tree in the back where we have taps on the east and west sides the flow has been slower but with both taps.

Now I've got about 20 gallons to boil down. Of course I'm busy all day tomorrow so I won't be able to get started until late again. Hopefully this time it'll be a little faster as the weather should be a little better.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

3/14 Really cold

Nothing going on besides some cold air and frozen sap. The bags have about about1-2 quarts in each one and it's all frozen solid. The 10 gallons in the back stored in 5-gallon buckets are also frozen. This is ok.

I canned thesyrup in little 8OZ jars today. Just poured the cold syrup into the jars and microwaved them untill boiling and then capped them. Now just label and distribute now.

Monday, March 13, 2006

3/13 Finished up the first cooking-cold temps

I went to bed last night at about 3:00AM and just threw the unfinished pot in the fridge. Tonight I finished it off and it didn't take long. Of course I was low on time and didn't get a chance to actually can it. Got about 7 cups of syrup.

The temps are really cold outside and the flow has totally stopped. We got 10" of snow last night and the whole city is taking a snow is the sap run (which is just fine)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

3/12 First Cooking-Huge Flow-Snow Storm

So today the flow was enormous. After the warmth of a couple days ago stopping the flow, it really ran fast today. We poured off over 10 1/2 gallons this afternoon from those seven taps. I'm not sure I can handle all this sap. We're already at over 25 gallons in just four days!

Had our first cooking tonight and it took forever. A major winter storm started up just as we were stoking up the fire. Took a while to get it hot enough, but it was working well after about an hour.

Started the fire at 5:00PM and I was out there in the mud, wind, and driving snow every 20 minutes until about 3:00AM. Nice. I cooked off about 15 gallons tonight. I was having trouble seeing into the tub to check on the sap level, and of course that almost killed me. At the end the sap was so boiled off it would have crystallized almost immediately so I had to dilute it a little bit with 1.5 to 2 quarts of fresh sap. Poured it into the filter and the indoor pan -- in the riving wind and snow and brought it in. I just threw it into the fridge and went to bed.

It took way too long to cook it all off this day, but I knew the deal when I signed up.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

3/11 The Flow Has Stopped - For Now

I was out there this morning after a warm overnight and the taps have stopped. YEsterday we got over eight gallons of sap from the seven taps...That's a big day! Emptied it out and hung the bags back up...tonight there's nothing in five of the seven bags...totally shut down due to the warm temps for 36 hours.

Big snow coming (so they say) tomorrow and some colder temps well below freezing. I think I'll give the first cooking a go tomorrow afternoon. With almost 15 gallons so far, we're about 3/4 of our total yield from last year.

Friday, March 10, 2006

3/10 Record Heat Today

It got up to 56° today. The trees went into overdrive this afternoon with the heat. I'll wait until tomorrow to empty the bags but there seems to be a lot of sap out there.

The kids were playing in the ice rink, breaking through the ice and getting soaked.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

3/9 Tapped the Neighbor's Tree

Our neightbor noticed what we were doing and that the blue bags were up in our yard. So he called and asked if we wanted to tap his tree. So we headed over there this evening and did just that. Immediately it started flowing, which is always cool and we were off. The taps produced a good amount today. Almost 4 gallons the first day. Weather should be warm the next couple days. SHould be good flow then it'll likely shut way down til it gets cold again.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tap Those Trees

The kids and I were out this morning tapping the trees for the 2006 syrup season. It was GREAT!

Of course I had to dig everything out last night and couldn't find the tap spiles as they were rifled off somewhere in one of our cleaning frenzies last spring. Finally found them after turniong the house upside down for an hour.

...I had to buy a new drill bit for this year. Last year I used a too-small bit and of course tried to boar the hole biggeranyway I got the right tool and the taps went in without a hitch. AND they started dripping right away!

Now I have to think about getting some firewood. We're 11 days earlier than last year.