Thursday morning, our first adventure with maple syrup began. Before leaving for work, Mike went out to one of the maple groves and put ten taps into nine maple trees. Jonathan checked on the taps during the day. At first, it was slow. Some buckets remained empty for a few hours, but a couple trees had three inches of sap within a few hours. By mid-afternoon, three buckets were half full, so Jonathan emptied them. We assumed the buckets would be fine until Friday morning.
Friday started with eight trips across the creek to empty buckets. The buckets on the south end of the grove were completely full, and these are two gallon buckets.
The 10-gallon evaporator was full in no time.
We were filling additional pots on the stove, and we were looking for additional containers to store sap until the boiling sap had evaporated enough moisture for us to add more fresh sap to the pots. By the end of the day, we had collected almost 30 gallons of sap.
We boiled all day, and we still had sap sitting in pitchers and milk buckets, waiting to be added to the pots. And of course, we kept going across the creek, emptying more buckets so they wouldn't overflow. We had to stop boiling in the house when the sun went down, because we had to close windows, and the humidity started building up on windows quickly! By midnight, we decided we would be able to go to bed without worrying about the sap suddenly becoming syrup and being ruined before we got up in the morning. Just to be safe, Mike did check on it around 3:30, and the big evaporator was down about halfway.
By this morning, the sap was close enough to syrup that I had some on my homemade yogurt. It was so delicious! However, it wasn't quite "real" syrup yet, and if we were to bottle it at this stage, it would grow mold, because it still needed to be evaporated more, so we started adding more fresh sap to the pot. We're hoping by the end of today, we'll have boiled down the sap enough that we will be able to bottle our first three or four quarts of syrup.