Digging Out The Maple Tree

Last Sunday we decided it was time to tap the maple tree. A look ahead at the weather showed that this week would bring above-freezing temperatures for at least a few hours most days, and that means that the sap should start to run. Last year we waited until March 8, but I think we missed the earliest sap that yields the really pale amber syrup. This year we thought we'd try to get an earlier start.

But first, some digging:

It's hard to gauge in the photo with all the whiteness, but I am standing in the path to our front door, looking over some steps carved into the snow and across a path that Kirk (mostly) cleared to the tree. The snow here is still 24 to 30 inches deep, and it wasn't easy to shovel as it is now compacted into an icy block.

If you look closely, you can see Kirk shoveling behind the tree. In the end, he couldn't get all the way around to complete the circle because the snow on the north side of the tree is really frozen solid. We managed to make enough of a loop that we can reach all the taps.

There wasn't a whole lot of daylight left by the time we were done shoveling and ready to actually tap the tree (more info on how to do that here). By the time we drilled the holes and put in the spiles, it was snowing. AGAIN.

Anyway, today it finally did stay above freezing for the whole day, and the sap is starting to run:

It's not a ton, but this should be the really light amber kind when we boil it down. You can see that there's also a piece of ice, so the temperature's not all that far above freezing. Still, it's enough to convince us that spring really is on its way.


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