Monday, March 12, 2018

Straight up pioneer life

We've got livestock on the farm, so I feel like my urban hippie credibility is strong. What I need to work on is my old-timey survival credibility. I know a few things about wild edibles (lobed berries are always safe!), so I could survive in a temperate forest for a few days in the early summer. But what about longer-term wilderness life? Eventually I'd want something more delicious than fiddlehead ferns and the 3 mushrooms I can reliable identify.

You know what's delicious and also available in the woods? Maple syrup! You know what is a ridiculous process? Also maple syrup!

Step one: Drill a hole in your giant, 60+ year old tree. Hope that you're not accidentally killing it in the process!

 Step two: Gently hammer in the taps. We got plastic taps with flexible tubes so that the sap would run down to ground level, where we've got our containers. I got to do the hammering; it's not likely that I could hit these hard enough to break them.
 Action shot! This tree is massive, so it can handle a few taps
 Step 4: Wait. Check repeatedly, Wait some more. Get all excited when you see some liquid!
Here's the first gallon of sap! That's going to eventually be boiled down to 3 whole ounces of syrup.... That's the ridiculous part of the process. It takes 40 parts of sap to make 1 part syrup, which is why we've got 10 taps going. So far, we've been getting 1-2 gallons a day; we could get more as the weather gets a little bit warmer.
We have a basement fridge; it's getting full. I've been collecting gallon milk jugs from all the neighbors so that I don't miss out on any sap; it adds up. Slowly.

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