Thursday, March 09, 2006

the sap buckets are up

Just a week or two ago, the folks from Giles Family Farm came by to hang sap buckets on our sugar maples. We had heard that local homeowners let them tap their trees in exchange for a bit of the final product and some communal sharing. For days now the buckets have been empty save for a few drops of what I assumed were rain water. But yesterday a multi-generational crew from the Giles family were out front with a pickup-mounted collecting tank, gathering sap from buckets along both sides of the road. Surprisingly, the buckets were now more than half full, and one of the collectors (my guess is Mr. Giles) told me that by this Saturday, the warm weather would have them running at full speed - three or more drops per second.

The Giles family sugar shack is about two miles from here, and a drive to the location requires passing hundreds of the metal or plastic buckets, some with the traditional metal spigot, others with a plastic spigot and short hose. Where the trees extend up the slopes of hills, the hoses are joined into a winding circuit of gravity driven delivery, with larger collecting tanks at the bottom.

I hope to visit the sugar shack soon (they said to come after two pm most days, as it takes that long to get the boil going). And I hear there is a Maple Sugar Day in the next month or so, when the sugar makers hold open houses.

I realised later that the Giles family operates a large orchard nearby as well, and that when they came by to collect, I was in the middle of a severe pruning of our two overgrown apple trees. Two minutes of conversation with them could probably have saved me the hours of reading about pruning, and resulted in a much less scalped looking tree. I'm sure they gaot a good chuckle out of the city boys orchard skills.

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