**Please note, this was originally posted to my Steemit blog. It’s a community that pays you in a crytpocurrency called steem to write posts. You can learn more about it over here. If you become a Steemit user (a Steemian) you can also vote and take part of contests that I host there. My user’s name over there is @homesteaders life**
The Season is Starting Now
Part of the philosophy over on TheModernHomestead.com is to “Grow Where You Are”. So let me give you a brief history. About 12 years ago, while serving as the assistant pastor of our church, I felt God’s leading to come to NW PA and plant a church. After about 2 years of traveling, telling others about our burden, and frankly, not receiving a lot of support, we moved to NW PA to start the church. We had 12.5 acres in Ohio that we left. It was our dream place in a lot of ways. A nice farm style house, a beautiful garage, out buildings and a barn for the pigs and horses along with rich soil! That house had hundreds of maples that we could tap, but I had never tapped maple trees and made syrup. I decided to start and I started pretty small and simple. I’m going to share a lot of pictures from then just to show you what we did. I may put some video in there too, but remember, this was a starting point. It’s where all good stories start… right where you are, just now.
First Things First… Gather Helpers!
Remember this was 10 – 11 years ago…
I’m going to show you how I started in this post and I’ll post later with how the set up evolved.
The mAple Team
This is why you need to GROW WHERE YOU ARE! This feels like yesterday to me. Don’t wait. You may have little minds to feed and teach, even if you’re in the grandparent stage! Let’s teach them and learn together! Because before you know it they turn into this
Christmas 2017 – Horse Drawn Wagon to get our tree
I can’t tell you how proud I am of this crew. They work hard they know so much more than I did at their age and they know the truths of our world, where their food comes from, how to grow gardens, make maple syrup, butcher animals, raise chickens, draw honey and the list goes on! Did I say GROW WHERE YOU ARE lately?
Second Gather Tools
These are the simple tools of my first foray into tapping maple trees for syrup. A cordless drill with 7/16 bit, and assortment of used spiles of different types bought at auction, some hooks, a hammer, my multitool and milk jugs. Circa 2008
Third – Find a Maple!
The best way to find a maple tree for a new syrup maker is to find them in the fall when they have leaves on them and to spray paint them with a red dot! Otherwise, go online and read up on bark identification, etc. But even in winter you can usually find some old leaves on the tree.
Fourth – Tap it!
* Drill at a slight angle 10° – 15°*
Insert the tap and hammer it in
Laugh delightfully when the sap bursts forth
We used milk jugs. Cut a small hole and hang from that hole.
The milk jugs worked fine, the only draw back is you needed to check them multiple times a day because they would overflow quickly.
My excellent helper
* This was my first evaporator set up. *
The pan was a find at a clean up job that I helped my dad with probably in 2003 It was heavy stainless and had a drain in the middle. I had the drain welded shut and a draw tube with a ball valve welded on the side. The steel sheets I had laying around as scrap. The blocks and the 3 chimney tile were at the house when I bought it. I learned a lot on this about heat loss and transfer. First. I sent a lot of heat up that chimney because the steel didn’t allow a good transfer between it and the pan. I removed it eventually and heated the pan directly.
Finish it off
First year rewards
We finished ours off the first year on the stove. It worked… but I don’t recommend doing it inside. Sticky!
Eventually I bought a turkey fryer. PERFECT!
Start now, you don’t need to be a professional you just need to start!
GROW WHERE YOU ARE!
I’ll post some of my evolving methods in another post!