What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child. ~George Bernard Shaw
Tap tap tap
This weekend, despite the flurries and the chill, our thoughts took us to Spring. Actually our thoughts took us to syrup. It is just coming in on sugaring season in our part of the world and my two boys couldn’t be more excited. They have been talking about it all week and I promised them that Sunday would be the day. We dug out the pails, hats, taps, and drill. Scrubbed them all clean and after lunch out we went.
Now our ”sugar bush” consists of 4 trees. We live on the Canadian Shield, we have mostly oak and Ironwood in our forest around our house. Pathetic I know, but truth be told, I am quite happy with a small lot of maples. Sugaring is hard, time consuming work. The collecting and boiling is pretty much a 6 week commitment. A typical boil takes 12-14 hours and we have to boil every 5-6 days. Last year we boiled 4 times and that was with missing the first run and dumping the last buckets because honestly, that is a lot of hours spent feeding a fire.
Boiling must be done outside. There is so much steam it really is unbelievable. The first time we did it, we had to finish it inside due to rain and time. We boiled for 40 minutes and I am still wiping maple syrup steam off my cabinets! Last year we boiled on an open flame. This year we are going to build a rocket stove, loosely based on this one here. We are hoping to make the whole thing more efficient. We will see. At the very least, it will be a fun homeschooling project.
We were surprised to see the sap was already rising. When I pulled the drill out to check the sawdust (it should be light brown and fresh), there was a trickle of sap that came with it. I thought we were being on top of things and getting it all done a bit early, but it turns out we were just in time. The first run is supposed to be the best. I will let you know. In the stores, it is the light amber coloured syrup, generally more expensive and more delicate in flavor. The buckets were checked about 25 times in the course of 3 hours. Reports were given. It was a very exciting day with many more to follow.
So, much to my relief, I think Spring is on her way. Her little “plink, plink, plink” can be heard outside our door and the littles ones are calling out “Sap’s rising!!!”. The light at the end of the dark wintery tunnel!