Is syruping even a word? Anyway, over here at the micro-homestead we're just about done cooking up this years syrup and so far the tally is a little over 1.5 gal. For those with the accountant gene that means we've collected about 60 gallons of sap. That's 12-5 gallon buckets and a whole lot of shoulder strain (we're not as young as we used to be).
Do you collect sap? Have you ever tried it? It's a pretty interesting, albeit short lived, hobby. There's only so many weeks a year to collect it and so you have this concentrated period where you put up the buckets, collect the sap and fire up the stove.
I think this was our 3rd year making syrup and by far the best year production wise. The first couple of years we may have gotten a few quarts each year, but, something about the mild winter seems to have upped the cupboard count!
We have about 13 taps installed with a couple of trees being large enough for two each. One of the trees with two buckets just can't seem to stop sending out sap. Both buckets fill up within a day or two while some of the other trees just kind of lump along giving a half a bucket at best at their peak.
We also tend to have a mix of traditional metal buckets and those bluish plastic ones. I actually like the blue ones better because you can see how much sap is in them without have to remove the lid. I've never tried the gallon milk jugs and driving around town you'd think I'm missing out on something, but, I just can't get used to the way they look. Kinda redneck-ish. And I'm not picking on any that uses them, actually it's a really nice way to recycle some stuff. But…nah, I just can't do it.
I am thinking about using the plastic tubing and letting gravity do some of the work rather than keep lugging my five gallon pale from tap to tap.
And we've been cooking ours down inside the house rather than outdoors, but, it's mainly due to the fact that it seems like a waste of good wood to cook all day just to end up with a quart. And a quart is usually all we get because we only cook down 10 - 20 gals per session.
Keep an eye on this site because Sam and I are planning on trying an experiment to cook down sap using a rocket mass heater J tube. If that works like we think it should then we may be able to cook loads of sap down just using sticks. A lot of sticks, but, it least it would be more efficient than logs.
Closing out here's some numbers I've kinda scratched together as to the value of one quart of syrup:
Assuming my labor is worth at least $10 an hour and it takes me 10-12 hours to cook the sap down indoors, that makes our syrup worth about $100/quart or $400/gallon and that doesn't include the usage of propane/ electricity or the time to collect the sap or the time to setup the initial taps.
The stuffs like gold.
So, what's your story? Got sap? How are you processing it? What value do you think you syrup has? Come on, give us the scoop.
Ray is part of the Ray and Randi duo, who actually don't live on the farm. They have a micro-homestead in Gilmanton, but are VERY active over at IFP and are guest bloggers for them.
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