Tuesday, March 13, 2012

sweet dreams

As I write this, a bunch of sap is bubbling on the stove. I did a test drive several days ago, and didn't quite have enough sap to make true syrup, but the 50 mL of golden sugar water we did get was delicious. I figure I'll add it to tonight's batch to bring it closer to a syrup.

Since I got this idea to tap our trees, I keep having dreams that my breastmilk is actually maple syrup. Two or three times now. It's weird.

It hasn't been all smooth sailing with the sap collecting (nor with the breastfeeding either -- but I don't feel like writing about that right now). After we tapped two trees, we got a couple of litres of sap, then a cold snap meant no more sap. On Sunday it started flowing again, but it seemed the holes had dried up or something. So I took out the taps and redrilled the holes. I tried to google how to remove the taps but every page I looked on said simply, "pull the taps." Eventually my husband figured out to use needle-nosed pliers and just pull hard.

I tapped two more trees and just used four-litre jugs that we had gotten apple cider in. This morning they'd blown across the yard, and they wouldn't stay on the trees all day. Of course it didn't actually matter, because for some reason those trees weren't giving me any sap. One of the ones I redrilled has been quite generous though, and is largely responsible for what's boiling on my stove right now. Next year, I will make sure to buy buckets if I decide to tap trees again.

We are tapping Norway maples, which don't have as much sugar in their sap as sugar maples do. Now that I've boiled sap down once, I kind of understand why people focus their energy on sugar maples.

I've noticed a fair amount of leakage around the taps. I think this may be because I didn't have the right sized drill bit. I wonder if that might also cause the holes to dry up so quickly? I don't know. I am getting a very healthy respect for our brave maple sugar producers and also for the trees.

At one point, I was trying to solve the problem of the leaky tap and lamenting the drops that were not going in the bucket. "It's going to waste!" I cried.

Eldest said, "It's like we're the bad guys and the tree is our enemy."

"No," I said. "I think it's more like the tree is giving us something really special and we don't want to waste it."

"Oh yeah," he said.

My kid is funny.

Oh - and before I forget. Have a watch of this excellent TED talk by Winona LaDuke, a seed activist in Minnesota. She even mentions maple syrup. Did you know it was First Nations people who originated the whole thing?

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