Mike and I went into the woods on Saturday to identify trees. We wanted to see what kind of maple and oak trees we had, because acorns from the oaks can be used to feed pigs, and the maple trees can be used for making maple syrup for the humans. Acorn harvest has already begun, but I'll talk about that tomorrow.
As for the maple trees, we found more than a dozen large, old trees, and almost all of them are sugar maples. Although you can tap any kind of maple tree, the sugar maples have the highest yield of sap. You can tap a tree once it has grown to 10 inches in diameter, and you can add another tap for each additional six to eight inches in diameter. If the books are correct, this means we could easily have a couple dozen taps, because the trees are big enough to support two or three taps each. I had to post a picture of Mike next to a tree, because the trees look really small if there isn't a person in the picture. Even this tree looks small if you cover up Mike, but we can't get our arms around it.
This also means that my cabin in the woods may be moved closer to the top of the to-do list. I've been wanting a cabin in the woods, but it always seemed like one of those "nice to have" things, rather than anything practical. However, it takes 35 gallons of sap to make a gallon of syrup, and how far do you want to carry all that sap before starting to boil it down? However, this also means that we probably won't be taking advantage of all our maple trees next spring, because there are two separate groves on opposite ends of our property.
Our next step is to somehow mark the trees so that at the end of February or in early March when there are no leaves on the trees, we'll know which ones are maples. I am really excited about making our own syrup, because having a homegrown sweetener will get us one step closer to true sustainability.