Because I get my milk from my cows, I don't have a whole bunch of these wonderful containers. Right around the new year I start asking all my friends to save theirs for me so I am ready by mid-February for MAPLE SEASON!!! Milk jugs make the best tapping buckets out there. I have a couple hundred actual maple buckets but milk jugs are easier to handle, lighter to carry a whole batch of them, they keep the critters out of the sap better, and speaking of critters--if one chews up a milk jug it's no big deal. If a squirrel chews up a twenty dollar maple bucket, it can make you want to have squirrel for dinner than night.
So today I am off to tap my first couple hundred trees. We use to tap about 300 to 400 trees but since my cousin moved back home and found out how much we can make from selling syrup, last year we tapped almost 600 and this year we are shooting for 700 trees. With this odd winter, maple syrup may be quite expensive (it depends on how good the actual season is), so my cousin is hoping we can put up a wind turbine on our new sugar shack with the profits.
Tapping Trees Last YearFor a family that lives with nature and the seasons, maple season is the transition between the cold winter months and the spring planting. We start tapping trees when the days are still below freezing and we finish the last boiling with the buds of the trees just starting to pop into leaves. Maple season is part of the quickening of the blood for spring time. Sap tea is a sweet tonic to sip by the fire as the steam rises off the pans and turns the clear sap into dark syrup.
Boiling Sap Last Year
I love the change over times of the year, spring and fall. Spring is marked by maple and fall is marked by the harvest. For thousands of years people lived by what gifts the earth was giving them at that moment of the wheel of the year. Feeling those changes of the seasons is an amazing part of living on the homestead. While others are still moaning the winter blues, the cardinals are calling me out into the snowy woods; "Don't wait. Spring will be here soon." And with maple season, spring is a sweet season indeed.