All things sweet I is back in the March 2012 Archives and many of you have asked for an update. Some day when I get a chance, I will document the whole process. As with bees, my emphasis is to keep things as simple as possible. My sap boilers are steel drums I got for nothing. made openings for doors and chimney, and pan with an old saw blade. The expensive part is the stainless steel evaporating pan. I use the small boiler to warm the sap then transfer to the big one (20 gal).
Our collection is all by hand and pushing the old modified toboggan. This year was really tough until the last 3 days. Even with snow shoes, you would sink to your hips. Friends Amy and Kim from downstate that came up to help got a real insight into big snow - Amy especially was thrilled with carrying 5 gallon buckets, punching through the snow, spilling sap and struggling to get back up. Thanks Amy!!
For collection buckets we use gallon milk jugs (clear) that make it easy to see how full they are. The hooks I made out of 9 gauge wire. The spouts are 5/16 inch instead of the standard 7/16 inch. I use 5 gallon buckets and my honey extractors for storage. Honey filters made for 5 gallon buckets work great for filtering out bits of bark and other assorted forest debris.
Out trees are "woods" trees that don't have large crowns like maples in a yard or the edge of fields which yield much more. Last year we tapped about 120 trees and got 15 gallons of syrup. This year we are at about 6 - don't think we will make last years count.
Adding wood, adding new sap, watching the steam rise, all while reading books by a very warm fire is a really, really, tough job - but someone has to do it. The meals in the dutch oven on the coals from the boiler help to "lighten the load". Friends stopping by -David and Susan Vore, Lon and Lynn Emerick, Jim and Diane Hyer, and kids and grandkids - all help to lighten the load and make each year memorable.
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