Every day should start with a great breakfast. Well, after making some of the best maple syrup that you have ever poured on your flapjacks how could you resist?
We are in our third year on the homestead of doing something that I never thought possible—making our own maple syrup. I guess that in my simple mind I always thought that maple syrup had to come from the grocery store or New England.
With over 20 mature maple trees on our property my wife came up with a plan to tap our maple trees. Two of our trees are over 120 years of age. I call them my Jumanji trees. I doubted her adventure until one day I tasted it.
Two years ago, I oversaw the boiling down process. Left alone at home, I might have gotten sidetracked. When I came back to the burner, I noticed that the once half full pot was now only a few inches deep and dark brown. I burnt it!
What was I going to do? We have been boiling for days and I burnt it. How do I tell my wife? I quickly did what any man would do. No, I didn't go to the grocery store and by maple syrup and pour it into the bucket—though a great idea. I tested it.
I got a spoon from the kitchen and filled it with the brown syrup substance. Slowly, I placed it into my mouth as I said a prayer. Instantly, I knew the results. . . . It was the best maple syrup that I have ever tasted. I was saved!
In our third year, we are more informed, more equipped, yet we still make mistakes. Nonetheless, the syrup continues to be amazing.
After tapping about a dozen trees yesterday, we received about 13 gallons of sweet nectar. Thus, the pots are on and boiling down the sap. Time will tell.
We used three different types and sizes of spiles. My favorite . . . the metal ones. Not that I am trying to rid the world of plastics; they are just more durable to tap in and to remove. To install, we drill hole in the tree one inch beyond the bark at a slightly elevated angle so that it flows downhill.
I did, however, use the wrong bit on a few holes, which resulted in wasted sap flowing down the tree bark. No bueno. Thus, my wife and I went back and pulled the leakers and added larger spiles. Teamwork makes the dream work.
You might think that my favorite part of this process is the syrup, but it's the simple fact that we do this as a family. That is the blessing of living on a small farm: a lifetime of family memories.
The Kiki & Co. maple syrup is a true gift and worthy of sharing with family and friends, but it's the adventure that keeps us dreaming. Over the next few days, we will be collecting sap and boiling it down. We will check back as we get closer to the finished product.