So today we had the opportunity to go and help tap maple trees out at Arc Acres. Although some reluctance was met by some of my teenagers, we ALL went. We got a quick lesson in how to tap the trees and were told to do this part of the grove ( insert farmer Amber waving her arms in a general area). No problem, says I. Well, ok, one small problem, I know how to tell most trees apart while their leaves are on, but what about when they’re off? Is the bark different?
Well the short answer is yes, sometimes people can tell by the bark, but more the age of the tree as it differs depending on the age ( crap my hands and forearms are tired just writing this!). However, if you look up at the branches, most- like high 90’s percent, have branches that grow across from each other, in a t-like pattern. But, she says, this whole grove is mostly maple, so you don’t have to worry too much.
It took the better part of 3 hrs and, before you ask, I have no idea how many trees we tapped. While it felt like thousands, it was probably less than 100. The kids all worked together and changed up the jobs as there were several. First one must pick a spot on the south side of the tree ( best time for doing this is in the morning as the sun should be shining on the south side ) then you have to drill at an upwards angle and in about 2 ” approximately. Next someone sticks in a spigot and taps it in with a hammer ( or the back of an axe) then someone else hangs a bucket from the hooky bit, and someone else affixes the lid with its wires to keep it sort of tied down. Voila! Some of the trees started dripping the minute they were drilled which was exciting! Sap was tasted and we were invited back in a week when we could help with the big boil to see how it goes from sap to finished product.
The sunshine and warmth and yoohoo( I don’t know what they’re called, but their call is a yoohoo sound) birds chirping back and forth in the trees above us was wonderful, and although I’m tired, I feel renewed 🙂
On the home-front, I tried hot process soap making. This is the process you want to use if you need your soap quicker than 6 weeks. Hot process soap takes about 1 week to be ready to use. I’m also going to remind people again, that safety is vital when working with lye as I lazily didn’t go put on safety glasses ( since they weren’t with my soaping supplies where I’d left them) and ended up getting some lye splashed in my eye – stung for a few,seconds, but washed out my eye with fresh water and it was better quickly. It could have been much worse, and I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll also remember to put on long sleeves as I had a bunch of little burn marks on my arms from where it splashed up. I don’t know which method I prefer at this time, but I must say, I prefer the look of the cold processed soaps better- a bit smoother.
I also make liquid hand soap out of some leftover bits of soap I had kicking around and a bar of the hot process soap I had made. Very simple to do and much cheaper than store-bought liquid hand-soap.
Monday: Wild boar sausages, baked potatoes and salad
Tuesday: Tuna and cauliflower casserole
Wednesday: Onion and apple pork chops, mashed potatoes and broccoli
Friday: the usual 🙂
Enjoy the change of seasons as we move from winter into spring. I doubt we’ll go straight into spring without another snow storm, but we can always hope! Get outside and enjoy!Go feed the birds, or go out at lunch and put your face in the sun and dream for a few minutes !