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Let the sap flow!

It’s no secret that winter isn’t my favorite season and of all months, I hate February the most. It’s all gray skies, cold mud, frozen water, and we’re burning through everything from wood to hay to heating oil. One of the few redeeming things about February is that the weather turns and it usually signals the start of maple syrup season. Instead of consuming, it’s one of the few things that actually produces in the winter.

For the sap to start flowing in the trees, there has to be a week of above freezing temps during the day, and below freezing temps at night. Last year wasn’t the best for syrup because of the constant back and forth of too warm, then too cold, then right to too hot. We didn’t collect enough sap to make enough syrup to last us until this season, so we’ve been substituting with imitation maple syrup, much to Jack’s chagrin. But this week, we’ve been watching the weather and it looks like we’re off to a good start. We collected all the tools, saved milk jugs, twine, and maple syrup taps, and headed back to the forest.
Waiting for the right sized drill bit. There’s always something we have to wait for to get started.

The process of tapping trees isn’t really that complex, so much so that even the kids can help (partly because we make them, haha). Once we figure out which trees are maples, it’s a matter of finding a main root, drilling a small hole, pounding in the taps, attaching a milk jug, and supporting it with twine for when it’s full of sap.

Henry wanted to hammer them in. Naturally.

It took everyone a few minutes to figure out what their task was but once they did, everything ran fairly smoothly and quickly.

So much so that everyone had their own specific task: Jack drilled, Henry pounded in taps, Claire attached milk jugs, Evelyn ran supplies to everyone, Kate cried about being cold because she didn’t listen when I told her to zip up her coat, put up her hood, and put on her gloves…
…and Zoey got frustrated.
Tapping trees is hard work for a one-year-old!
Frustrated that her hat was on backward and she couldn’t see what she was supposed to be drilling.

One by one, the kids succumbed to the cold and frustration about tripping all over the forest–there are a lot of downed trees, thorny rose bushes, and sticks to trip little legs. So, I sent them in to warm up with a shower and get ready for bed, rewarding them with some leftover chocolate and a show before bedtime. It was a close call but everyone survived our outing!


Now, we’re just waiting for the sap to roll in so we can collect it, filter it, boil it, and eat it. Fingers crossed for a good maple syrup season!


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True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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