Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tap, tap, tap

After three years of deliberation, we've finally put in our first maple taps. It was a family affair with the baby in a front carrier and the three-year old eating snow. My husband and I did a dance around who would use the battery-powered drill. It was a freebie from my folks, so technically it's mine and I've used it more than him since most of the buildings were my projects. However, after two days of charging, the battery will last for about 10 min. So I didn't want to be holding it when the drill wound down to a low squeal of exaust. I'd rather it petered out in his hand because, frankly, I would have pitched it in the snow in frustration and we wouldn't see it again until late May. Neither of us wanted to do it wrong and be blamed later for our failings. We did our usual thing and shared responsibility. I did the first tree and he got to finish up with the last two. This way, I could blaze the path to my liking and not be holding the drill when it died, and he could follow example thus escaping blame. We've always spit things right down the middle. Every relationship has it's own comfortable nuances.

I marked the sizable maples in our back lot two years ago, in the fall when the leaves were blazing red. Last year, I collected plastic jugs from our apple cider purchases and looked into getting a large stainless steel kitchen pan for the evaporation step. We haven't yet found a pan for boiling outdoors. But I figure that we probably steam off a gallon of water a day on the woodstove and it's still dry indoors, so why not put sap in the pot. It never boils, but there's definitely evaporation going on. It's worth a try. With only three taps we have the potential to get three quarts of syrup at the end of 6 weeks, which in our area costs about $30. Daily collections in knee deep snow is great exercise. So I should be in excellent shape after six weeks AND have three lovely quarts of the "liquid gold" for FREE. In all seriousness, life really doesn't get much better.

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