Friday, March 4, 2011

Tweedle Dumb and Tweedle Dumber Tap Maple Trees, or Wait, is it an Oak?

So the weather warmed up a couple of weeks ago here in Michigan. It was short lived but non-the-less the temperatures were in the 50's. Zach and I, with elated excitement, dashed outside, tree taps and maple buckets in tow. The promise of sweet, delicious, homemade maple syrup heavy on our minds and on the tips of our tongues. I could almost smell the sweet maple steam as we boiled the buckets of sap down to syrup.
Oh the waffles, the pancakes, french toast and maple vinegarette would be endless. And free~no less!

The day started something like this.

Jennifer: "Here's a Maple, no wait, or is this an Oak? Yes, I think from the bark, this is an Oak."

Zach: "Here's one. No wait maybe it's an Oak. Where's the tree book?"

Jennifer: "Over here. I always pick up maple leaves over here in the fall. These have to be maples."

Zach: "But the bark looks the same as the ones that we just decided were Oaks."

Jennifer: "Oh yeah"

...and so on.

As we stood scratching our heads, staring squinty eyed at the tree tops trying to differentiate Maples from Oaks from Poplars from Hickory's. I must say, my feathers were a little ruffled, as I swallowed that thorny pill of humbleness. I was a nature girl after all. I've walked under these trees a thousand times. Collected acorns and leaves, hickory nuts. Why I knew a White Oak from a Red Oak any old day of the week. In conclusion, I guess I know leaves, not trees, but at this point, don't hold me to it, I can't promise anything.

We decided that according to our tree book, that this was our best bet at a Maple. Now granted, I know we don't have Sugar Maples, but I've read that you can tap any maple. The results are not as plentiful, and the syrup has a slightly different taste. But what the heck we'd give it a go. (All of you tree enthusiasts are probably snickering at the two idiots.)

So we tapped. And sap came out. And there was much rejoicing. Hooray, we did it! We tasted the sap and it tasted sweet, and it was probably hopeful imagination, but we agreed that there was the slightest hint of maple flavor. So we placed the bucket under the tap and skipped away dreaming of pancakes... La, la, la!

In an hour we checked the bucket. There was about a teaspoon of sap. Hmmm, this was going to take a while... We had no idea.

So in about 5 hours we checked again. About a teaspoon.

By sunset, there was...about a teaspoon.

Well maybe the temperature wasn't right. Maybe the moon wasn't full. Maybe we'd try again tomorrow.

So again we came with our buckets and hopes. By noon...we still had a teaspoon. (See the amount in the tip of the tap? That's it! That was the fruits of our labor!)

At this point I felt the need to liven things up. (Mom took this picture, and donated the syrup. Thanks Mom.) Zach found it slightly amusing...slightly...

Moral of the story, mark the trees in the fall. Don't be an idiot.

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Camille said...

Jim says its really hard to tell the difference in the winter. Good for you guys for trying this out! What a great learning experience!

Anonymous said...

Mark the stations of your irrigation system when it's installed is a lesson we learned! Thanks for the story!

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