When I first moved into my house, I had plans of owning a lot of chickens. I had been told the property was originally farmed. Hardly any trees existed, and it was easy to go from one side of the property to another.
This story was hard for me to absorb when I looked around the tree covered land, but I knew the source was extremely credible, and I was a little frustrated that I had land I couldn’t use because my husband was against cutting down perfectly good trees. I get it. I really get it. I felt bad about the prospect of cutting trees down too. So, as we’re looking at the property, my (at the time) 10 year old pipes up, “Mommy, there sure are a lot of sugar maples on this property. There are over 100.”
I asked, “How do you know?”
“We maple sugared at school,” she replied.
Before the summer was over, I bought some plastic pink non-stick tape (sold near the tools at the hardware store) to tie around the maple trees. Neighbors thought I was marking them to take them down and asked if we might have firewood to spare, but my husband assured them it was for another purpose. I needed to do this step because I don’t know a heck of a lot about trees, and paying attention to what kind of trees were around me opened up my eyes quite a bit.
The whole amazing part about all of this is that you not only learn which trees are best for maple sugaring, but you also get a feel for which tree is going to be a great maple sap producer after tapping trees. This is something people can’t tell you. It’s just something you pick up along the way.
When I ordered supplies in advance, the company I ordered from shipped me a box. It had everything I ordered except the most important aspect – SPILES. I had the line that attached to the spiles. I had gathering buckets. I had saved milk cartons and cleaned them out for collection purposes. I thought using a line would make things easier for me since the trees were on a hill, and I could have the line go downward into a collection bucket from different trees. Without spiles, I didn’t have much to work with for the tree tapping.
I made a little video to explain things. I left out the part of needing a hammer or rubber mallet to tap the tree. Certainly, you can use other methods, buckets, or ways of collection. I’m sure someone will tell me I did the whole process wrong too, but here’s the key – my supplies weren’t sent. I wanted to make maple syrup. I needed to figure something out to accomplish the task. Making a simple run to a hardware store and finding things that CAN work can produce the same result as purchasing from an online store. At the same time, the online plastic spiles were a lot cheaper, but I was risking losing out on maple sugaring season due to the company not informing me of their lack of supplies and what time frame the supplies would arrive.
With that, my project worked, and we now have quite a bit of sap despite this horrific winter. I didn’t even tap 1/4 of the trees on the property where hundreds (more than the 100 my daughter counted) of trees reside.