With temperatures still below freezing at night and above freezing during the day, it is prime season for maple tree tapping. The EWL community has spent the past three weeks up to our elbows in sweet sap. The process actually began last fall when Tim had the foresight to mark several sugar maples on the property before they dropped their leaves. Fast forward to March 13th, and after a brief introduction from Tim at the tent, we all gathered around those same trees to begin the labor-intensive yet highly-rewarding process of collecting sap to boil into syrup.
Within a week we had collected over ten gallons of sap which we stored in snowbanks until it was ready to be boiled. Andy configured a simple rocket stove with concrete blocks while the rest of us gathered and split kindling. Perched atop small rocks, a shallow pan full of sap was continuously boiled and topped off throughout the day yielding a small amount (less than a pint) of the most delicious syrup with a slightly smoky undertone. Feeding the fire was a full-time job, so after several days of the rocket stove, we switched to boiling sap on the pellet stove in the tent while the kids and teachers went about their regular activities.
Yesterday we removed most of the taps, leaving two to provide fresh drinking water for the teachers and students until the end of the run. We still have around twenty gallons to boil, which should produce two final quarts of sap.