That is wonderful and I'm soooo jealous! My children and I have been keeping up with your maple posts and now they want to have maple trees. Can you tell me a little more about it?
In a nutshell (or perhaps in a maple bark), you have to have trees "old enough". The sugar maple (and I read also a black maple which I never heard of) have the highest sugar volume and take about 40 years to mature (from seed) to get to tappable size of about 12" or more. Then it is no more than having tubing and buckets (lids preferable), a way to haul it (building muscles is always good), and a way to boil it down... and of course something like canning jars or darker containers to put it in (should be stored in a cool dry place away from light. This is the first year it has been a really pleasant boiling down process as this contraption we have works GREAT! And we have the potbellied stove on the porch for finishing (if you boil down in your house you can guess you will have a very soggy, moist house for quite a while. Since we are only boiling down with heat from wood, it's nearly free, other years we've used propane heaters outside which is not at all cost effective (but still makes for a fun project)! We've had several idiotic accidents with the boiling down, like the year my oldest was on the way and I fell asleep and burned the batch so that you could not see in the kitchen for the smoke. Absurd. We don't have many maples on our property but our neighbors have a lot of land across the road with a gazillion trees. I believe you can get about 10-20 gallons of sap from one tap but it all depends on the season as some seasons are short, some are long. Depending on the size of the tree it can take 1 to 3 taps. This year is looking to be a GREAT tapping season!. This looks like a nice, well thought out, site for tapping (I did not read much of it): http://www.tapmytrees.com/ There are lots of great children's books at the library on sugaring. My uncle had a full sugar house where he boiled down when I was growing it. It was so awesome and no one thinks of Uncle Bernie without thinking of maple syrup... ok... and limburger cheese. :D
PS: I mentioned children's books because they are always more interesting to me (haha). Also it is probably obvious that you have to have some sort of means of actually drilling the hole as well... everyone has a drill... right? I suppose in the good old days they didn't have drills and just pounded their spigots in :D
This is so great, Julie! I'm thinking a Maple Syruping Field Trip to your house is in order! :)
Wow Julie! Thank you for explaining all that for us. I didn't realize they needed forty years. It makes me really appreciate them.