Cabin Life – #67

I love my dog Pico.  But there are times when he can be extremely The First Spileannoying.  Like right now, he’s licking my elbow and won’t stop.  I lifted my arm up off the table but he just jumped up on me to keep on licking.  I don’t know why he is doing this or what I could have possibly gotten on my elbow to make him want to lick it so bad.  He’s just a little weird sometimes.

I noticed another oddity out here this week.  I tapped a few maple trees so I could make a little sap this year.  Last year, I was all primed to do the work, but then maple season came and went in a week in February, and I was caught off guard and left with no syrup.

This year is a test run.  I bought some taps and used a few old milk jugs as buckets.  Trying to do it on the quick and cheap, I’m really only expecting a couple servings of syrup.  I don’t have the equipment or the time right now to handle a big production, but now that I know what I’m getting into, I can make a bunch of syrup next spring.

Last winter I found a cluster of nice maples not too far from the cabin, and never touched them.  But this year I picked up a bag of spiles at the local hardware store and the proper size drill bit. A friend and I took Pico, the taps, jugs, and drill out to the trees.  The sun was shining and it was perfect weather for sap to run.  As soon as the drill bit broke through the bark, a big, fat drop of sap coursed down the rough exterior of the tree.  The drill then died.

My cordless drill, which I’ve had since college, made a hole about half an inch deep and just stopped turning.  I jammed a tap into the hole to see how bad it was, and the tap stuck out a ridiculous amount.  No way would it be able to keep a full jug from falling to the ground.  I pulled the battery out of the drill and locked the bit in place.  I used the body of the drill as a handle and finished the hole using my power drill as a hand drill.  This is why I only placed three taps this year.

The next couple of days were cold and I didn’t think the sap would run that much.  From the yard I could see the jugs on the trees and knew that they hadn’t fallen or gotten blown off.  When I went and checked the jugs after two days, I noticed the irregularity that I was not expecting.  The smallest tree had given me the most sap, and the biggest tree had given me basically no sap.

Now, there could be many factors for this discrepancy independent of the size of the tree.  I just found it odd that this was the case.  I figured bigger tree equals more sap.  But maybe I did something wrong drilling the hole.  Maybe I put the tap in at too much of an angle.  Maybe the stupid tree just doesn’t produce that much sap.

After three days, I had a gallon of sap.  At this rate, I might be able to put my own syrup on one pancake.  But that’s not really the point this year.  I just want to try something I’ve never done before and see how it comes out.  That’s what this whole experience has been about too.  To try something I’ve never done before and see what happens.  And maybe that’s why Pico was licking my elbow earlier.  He just forgot that he’s done it before and wanted to see what he might find.

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2 thoughts on “Cabin Life – #67

  1. What happens to the tapholes during sugaring off-season?

    Do you plug them up to prevent pests from entering the heartwood?

    • No, I don’t do anything to the holes. They’re pretty small and because this is done before the growing season, the sap will harden in the hole and seal it up before any diseases can get a foot hold.

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