Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!!!

Happy Easter from our family to yours!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Off to the sugarbush!

I grew up in Canada where maple sugar knowledge is pretty commonplace,
so I thought it was time my kids learned that REAL maple syrup doesn't come from the store.
And no, Mrs. Buttersworth does not count as real maple syrup.  So, we headed over to the sugar bush!

We started out with a hearty pancake breakfast, getting toasty by the fire before we headed out.  Maple sugaring requires freezing nights and above freezing temperature days.
It was pretty cold today!
Probably somewhere in the low 30's.


Maple sap is collected from maple trees and boiled down in the
sugar shack until it becomes a thick, dark, amber color - the
syrup we know and love today!

Joshua was shocked to learn that it actually takes 40 gallons of sap
to get just 1 gallon of syrup. No wonder syrup is so expensive!

Our tour guide took us out on a hike through the sugar bush to
tap a tree and set it up to collect maple sap.
Claire was proud to be chosen as the responsible person in charge
of the spile (tap).

The kids are waiting for the tour to begin.
They impressed our tour guide with what they already knew
about maple sugaring.

Ella stayed tucked up cozy in her stroller.
It was a bumpy ride through the woods!

Here Wyatt is standing beside some of the
buckets collecting the sap.

We made the mistake of letting the kids wear their
rain boots instead of their winter boots on our trip.
Poor Claire had frozen toes and hitched a ride with Ella
for most of the hike.

Wyatt talked Jason into carrying him so he didn't
have to walk either.  Some hike!

Claire, all bundled up!

The Native Americans were the first people to start collecting
the maple sap from trees.  They survived primarily on maple sugar
during the long winter months.

Wyatt was pretty excited to find his name here on the sidewalk
beside the barn!

We were so excited after our trip that we
decided to try tapping our own maple trees.

In order to safely collect maple sap from your
maple tree, you must first measure to make sure
the diameter is at least 10 inches across.
We have 2 maple trees.  One of them is 11 inches, so
that was the lucky tree!

First thing to do (after figuring out if it's a
maple tree or not), is to drill a 2 inch hole in the tree
at an upward angle.  Your hole should not
be any higher on the tree than 4 feet.  The
higher you go, the sweeter the sap, but there is
much less sap higher up, so it's better to set it up lower.

Here Jason is hammering the stile into the tree.

The kids found a bucket and hung it on the stile to collect the sap.  The only problem is that there is a crack in the bucket as you get further up!  So we are all drinking our milk as fast as we can  so that we can transfer the
sap collection over to milk jugs.

This was such a great day!  The kids learned a ton, and what was even cooler was that we were able to duplicate what we learned in our own yard!  If only we had 40 more maple trees...

By late afternoon it had warmed up enough that the kids could hang out outside without being too cold.  They like to hang out in their pjs when we don't have to go anywhere else for the rest of the day. Because it was so nice,we could let Ella out of her bundles to play.

The kids are so proud of their maple sugar tree! We will probably be lucky if we get even a tablespoon of maple syrup from our tree by the time we boil it down, but it will be exciting none-the-less!

Spring is in the air! (hopefully!)  Although, we might get a snowstorm tomorrow.  That's ok. It just means a longer maple sugar season, and that sweetens things up a little bit.