The Gang

The Gang
October 2008 Sweet Potatoe Harvest

About Me

I am a busy mommy of 6, seeking to be a loving, godly helpmeet to my husband and a biblical discipler to my children. God has blessed us with a child with Autism. May the lessons that the Lord is teaching me and our family be a blessing to you and yours!

My Favorite Books

  • Bible
  • Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Four-Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman
  • Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
  • Home Cheese Making by Ricki Carroll
  • Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
  • Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp
  • The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Yesterday was a VERY LONG day. Phil started the fire up at 7 to start cooking down the 20 gallons of sap we had collected on Saturday and Sunday. We learned a LOT our first day.

1.Keep the fire REALLY hot. The faster the boil the better quality syrup and the faster it will be done. Our fire was not hot enough most of the day. I was so nervous about the sap boiling over that I didn't let it boil for most of the day. Finally at about 3 in the afternoon when it was going SOOOO slow I decided to stoke up the fire and found that I could allow the sap to boil nicely and it didn't boil over.
2.Keep the sap on the outside fire until there is only between 1 and 1 ½ gallons of sap left. We brought ours in too early which meant we've spent a lot of time finishing it in the house. So much time that it was midnight last night and we still weren't done. We finally went to bed and I finished it this morning.
3.We should have read more about the process so we would be more confident in what we were doing. While we were trying to finish the syrup inside last night we went online and read a lot. It was helpful to know the areas we need to change before we cook down more sap on Wednesday.
4.Spring is beautiful but the mud is a major magnet to little boys!! At one point yesterday three of the boys were covered in mud from head to toe. Because I couldn't leave the fire to give them baths Elizabeth had to bring out several 3 gallon buckets of warm water for me to get off the first layer of mud. We even had to dunk Philip & Nathan's heads into the water because they had mud pies for hair!
5.NOTHING gets accomplished in the house when I'm having to be out by the fire all day. The kids are ok out there monitoring it for a few minutes, but adult supervision is needed with boiling sap.

This morning when I finished our syrup we ended up with 4 full quarts of syrup. So our first day's ratio was 25 gallons of sap to 1 gallon of syrup. When Phil and I were researching last night we found that the sap to syrup ratio ranges from 20-60 gallons of sap to equal 1 gallon of syrup. From what we read the type of tree tapped along with the weather and sap quality can change throughout the syrup run. So we don't expect to get so much syrup each time even though many of the trees we are tapping are sugar maples. Total time for our first gallon of syrup. 18 hours of cook time. Like I stated above I don't think we had our fire hot enough yesterday. Hopefully next time we'll be able to shave off at least 5 hours from our cook time. That is the goal at least!! :-)

Today I have to take Thomas to Green Bay so we are not cooking down the 10 other gallons we collected yesterday. I hope we will get another 10 more today but with it being so warm, I'll be surprised if we do. I'm thinking that for us it might be a good idea to cook down sap every other day just so we can keep a handle on the house chores and laundry, while the sap run lasts that is. I'm concerned that with the weather being so warm the sap might stop running. The good thing is that many of our trees are in the woods where there is still snow cover and it is cooler. We are even thinking about tapping more of the sugar maples in the woods because we found a couple more taps and we have plenty of buckets. Anyway, further thoughts on cooking it down every other day...... by doing it that we it allows us to do school every other day in order to finish off their workbooks for each subject. We do math while making the sap by talking through how many cups are in pints, quarts, gallons, 5 gallons, etc. and have talked about the science of evaporation too.

Update: We only gathered 6 gallons of sap today. :-( Phil talked with one of our friends that has been sugaring for 7 years and he said this year may be a REALLY bad year. In other words, the run might be almost done because of the warm nights last night and tonight.... how sad!! We are still thankful for the little bit we have been able to make.