We tapped 5 maple trees at the hostel this weekend. I have a feeling this isn’t the first time sweet maple sap has been harvested from these old trees. We have a deep respect for this old farmhouse and acreage that was once worked on by many strong hands. Elizabeth Roper owned and worked this land for decades and even established 4H programs right here. I can only imagine the fresh hard-working energy that encompassed this place when dozens of 4H kids came to learn valuable farming skills from this wise woman. I know these old trees have seen all of this and have soaked up the nutrients from this soil. Now, years later this sacred space is a hostel and instead of generations of people living here working the land there are travelers from all over the country and world who pass through this space. They are here for a night or a few nights and maybe in and out hiking or climbing and then they are on their way, hopefully to someday return. But we are here to stay, to live here and to get this place back to its roots. It won’t be back to a full scale farm with livestock but it’s a great gift to work with what is already here.
So what we did, we researched small scale maple sugaring. The key is timing. The days have to be warmer, above freezing and preferably sunny and the nights need to drop back down below freezing for the sap to be running well. The books were already checked out of the library so I went to the trusty internet. There I found many sites and blogs excited to tell me all about how to tap our trees, what we needed and how to do it all safely. We went to our cute little local hardware store and found buckets, covers, taps, and hooks. We also got cheesecloth for the outdoor debris that falls into the sap and some bottles to store our precious resource! It was surprising to me how easy it really is. We just went out and drilled 2 inch holes into the trees and hammered in the tap, hooked on our buckets and covers, on some trees there was sap dripping out immediately, which, let me tell you, made me as excited as a little kid on Christmas morning! After one warm day of the sap running I collected well over a gallon of sap. Fair warning, we have read and have been told all around town it takes A LOT of sap to boil down much syrup, but we are determined and excited for any sweet return we do get, even if it’s only enough for one pancake!
Stay tuned to This Old Hostel next week when we boil down our first batch of the sweet Nectar of the Trees and find out just how much syrup we can get from our own backyard!