Thursday, February 23, 2012


What a moment in the trip 'round the sun this is. We think Late February is special. Long and sunny days, a fresh blanket of snow, and rising sap all about. It looks like Winter out there but our seasonal clocks are ticking and headed smack dab toward Spring.

We thought you might like to see our tapping 'operation,' such as it is.
As yet, we are not tapping maples in our own woodlot. We are hoping to raise or purchase a team of oxen some day to help with the sap transport from woods to barnyard.

For now, we tap trees that we can drive and walk to. This is where farming in a village is kind of sweet. (Pun intended.) We tap four different village residents' maples for a total of 33 taps.

So first, we ask permission from those neighbors.
Then we go tappin'.
We introduce ourselves to some mighty maples.
We find a good spot on the bark, avoiding by a foot or so last year's holes.
We drill with a 1/2 inch bit going about 2" deep, at a slight angle.

Tap in the tap.
And hang the buckets to catch the drip drip drip.
Tasting encouraged.

Depending on the weather, we collect every few days or as often as twice a day. As long as it is coldish, we can store the sap until we are ready to boil. This winter, Prentice re-purposed an old oil tank into a sap boiling monster. I think that oil tank moved from Thorndike to freedom with us 10 years ago. Prentice sawz-alled the thing in two and then with a bunch of welding and design assistance, an old door and some stovepipe from our neighbor, Paul, they fashioned quite a nice evaporator. This is a picture of the 'burning off the oil' firing. Today it is boiling real live sap.
As I have mentioned here before, I daydream about pre-history a good bit and the whole tapping thing really gets this propensity going.
What person first saw a freshly broken maple twig dripping sap? Or noticed a bird sipping? What person first tasted it? Who was the first to collect some, warm it over a fire, perhaps forgetting it, therefore condensing its sweetness a bit more towards what we know today as maple syrup? Has sugar maple sap evolved to be sweeter over time?

And so many more wonderings. . .
With gratitude for the sweet maple sap,
All the best from here,

P.S. CSA sign ups are happening, so don't delay! Check out all of the offerings on our CSA webpage. Sign up online today by clicking here or download a printable form here.
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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Woods

Lots of farm blogs and garden blogs wax poetic in the winter months about seed catalogs and 'shopping' for the coming growing season's varieties. I have got to say that seed catalogs look more like work than pleasure to me these days. We order thousands of dollars of seeds each year, so it is not only work ordering all the seeds but serious expense.
On what does this farmer wax poetic?
(May I?)
Days in the woods = winter.
Our woodlot is really our family's favorite place.
The packbasket is loaded with a bit of paper and matches, snacks, teapot, mugs and/or whirlypop popcorn maker, some water bottles and we are off. Ok, maybe not quite as easily as that sounds. . .we are dressing 2 young ones, after all.
That is all the waxing I need to do.

We have all been well despite a bit of contagion and quarantine. . .

Besides that, all is well.
Maple trees have been tapped, boiling to come.
Our sap is rising , too -- for the growing season ahead!
Cleaning out the greenhouse as we ready it for heating in the next few weeks.
We will be at the CSA/CSF Fair in Belfast this Sunday from 1-3 at the UU Church.
See you there?

All the best from here,
Polly and Prentice

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