Have you ever wondered how someone starts making maple syrup? At this point in our business, we've heard so many stories of people tapping a few trees in their yards and boiling the sap down on stove-tops.
And then came the maple woods...and the buckets...and more buckets....AND MORE BUCKETS (200 was the final count). For anyone out there who is still using buckets, good for you...but those buckets get heavy.
We did the research and decided that tubing would be our next adventure. Then there was tubing...and more tubing. Over time, we have been able to reach hundreds more trees with this method and the best part is: the trees and gravity do the work!!
So, how does it work???
Our current setup is gravity tubing, which creates a "natural" vacuum that pulls the sap from the farthest tree in the line all the way to the collection point. In order for this to work, we need 3 things:
1) a drop in elevation from the trees to the bottom of the line - easy because the woods we tap has a great slope to work with.
2) Enough sap in the line to create a pull at the tap - that's why we like these cold nights and warm days.
And our favorite...
3) Leak-free lines - if you've been following us on Facebook for even 1 maple season, you know that this is a constant battle. Sometimes because trees fall down...but mostly because we have a lot of curious woodland creatures that like to turn our tubing into chew toys.
Now that all the sap is collected at the bottom of the hill, the next problem is getting it out of the woods. In the beginning, there was a very long 1-inch hose and a LOT of time was spent on this process...up to half an hour. As we've expanded and our sap intake has grown, we have improved this process; our current turn around on a full tote is 9 minutes. This is still a 2 person process, but it's a lot easier to find help for this vs. carrying 5 gallon buckets.
There are other techniques out there using tubing, and we're still looking to grow and expand our maple operation. Maybe new woods will lead to new techniques, but for now, for these woods, this is working well for us.