This site is about my life as a farmgirl, wife, mother and grandmother. We have a beautiful granddaughter and the cutest grandson. We own two farms in Craig County Virginia, leasing one and raising beef cattle on the other.
Hubby and I had a quick window of time to collect our sap this year and it turned out perfect! We decided to make the syrup by ourselves this year because of the unpredictable spring weather. We also decided that about half a batch would suffice so we only filled the sap tank with 135 gallons of clear maple sap!
We could not have picked a better time to start tapping the maple trees. Saturday morning after feeding the cattle and cleaning up from breakfast we got started. It was clear, sunny and still a chill in the air. First we gathered the bucket and cleaned them and then we cleaned the 210 gallon water tank.
From here we gathered the portable drill, wood bits, hammer and taps and headed for the maple trees in the yard. From there we tapped the trees behind the garage and then went to the mansion and tapped the tree that we know has been in the family since the 1800’s. She is still producing and we tapped with six buckets on her and from there went to our daughter’s house on the farm and tapped two trees at her house. In total we nine trees in all and as tonight at 7:00 p.m. the tank is full. We’ll hold it in the tank in the garage until Friday morning. It will stay ice cold in the garage.
These trees are not being damaged. The one inch hole heals within a few weeks and as I said before the tree at the mansion is in a photo we have of the family back in the mid-1800’s and it’s still living.
Around 1:30 Saturday our son joined us and he was kept busy emptying the buckets into the tank and was glad to have the ATV for collecting. He won’t be still long enough for Mom to take his picture. But sometimes we have to do what we can and here’s a picture helping at the sugar house in years past.
By Saturday night we had 100 gallons in the tank and the high temperature at the farm on Saturday was 49*. Sunday morning we got up to 27* temps, the buckets were running over with ice and the sap had even pushed out of the top of the tee.
On Sunday we got another 75 gallons and the sap has slowed a little. The temperatures got up to 52* and at 9:30 p.m. it was still 49*. For the sap to run really good the temps MUST get below freezing at night.
Today hubby filled up the tank and the trees have slowed down immensely but the tank is full of 210 gallons of pure sugar maple sap. The cooking will begin on Friday and finish up on Saturday around noon if all goes well.
Here’s a few of today’s photos:
Hopefully more pictures of the process when completed on Saturday!!
It is almost sugar time. Hubby announced this afternoon that if the weather cooperates we’ll tap the trees week after next. I wanted to share with you some pictures we took at the Highland Maple Festival a couple years ago. This event is a two weekend all about maple syrup fun time. The pictures I’m going to share are from one the operations we visited that work on a much, much larger scale than we do. Here we go and hope you enjoy the ride:
We drove for miles and miles that day and found one family that makes the syrup, taps the trees, and made it fun for the guests viewing the process but the rest of the journey was looking at miles and miles of plastic tubing running through the woods and into big tanks. Trucks emptying those tanks and taking it to a main processing building where it was cooked off in a big evaporating tank heated by propane. It was all so commercial and kind of took the fun out of the entire process. I think we’ll stick with our little sugar house and making enough to keep our friends and family happy while making enough money from it to pay for hubby’s time making it work. Hope to see you in a couple weeks at the sugar house licking our lips!!!
When we moved to the farm almost 12 years ago we were way too busy taking care of my husbands uncle who had Alzheimer. What a horrible disease but that’s another post!! My husband inherited our farm from his uncle which has been in the family 200+ years. It once was the farm of at least five different links of the Caldwell family. Some parcels were sold off and some of what we know was in a journal of one of my husbands great uncle, OFWC. There are at this time two apple houses, two cellars, two smoke houses, numerous grain bins, storage building, barns, barns and more barns and currently four houses. We live in one, our daughter is building another, the other two are family homes or build somewhere in between. We have bull barns, cattle barns, hay barns, equipment barns, bee house, and did I mention a “sugar house”??
A sugar house was built for just making wonderful maple syrup. Our farm is loaded with all sorts of fruit and nut trees, pines, and more than anything else, sugar maple trees. One on the property we are sure was about thirty years old when a family picture was made on the farm and that was in the mid 1800’s. It’s starting to look pretty bad and in need of pruning or taking down but it sure pours the maple sap in the spring. I digress again and on with the story of the sugar house. This is what it looked like when we moved here 12 years ago and hadn’t been used since our kids were small and they’re 36 and 39 years old at the moment.
My son-in-law is a brick mason and loves restoring old building and the fixtures within. Even though he’s my kin, I have to say he used to do awesome work. Economy and no work has changed that way of life in our neck of the woods.
Anyway, hubby, Joel and my brother broke it down, cleaned it out and started over as you will see from the following photos.
Now, I wasn’t around to take pictures when Joel was rebuilding but I think these beauties will show you what a beautiful job he did and I’m so proud of the beautiful “sugar house”!!
We’ve used it several times since the renovations and everyone enjoys the time together! We usually have friends and neighbors into for the day or two that it takes to cook the sap off and everyone enjoys the french toast and waffles when the first batch comes out of the pans.
The main reason I did this post is the time is upon us to tap the trees again if Mother Nature will cooperate and everyone is well. I’ve posted in the past on the process but plan to do that again sometime next week with some new photos of last years event. Until then, THINK SWEET THOUGHTS!!
This is the blog for our little farm in Skagit county. Here we have Shetland sheep and Nigerian Dwarf goats. In addition we have donkeys, cattle, pigs, chickens, geese, and peafowl. The blog describes the weekly activities here.