Jeff's Sugar Shack

This spring has not been the best of seasons for the maple syrup producers. The weather patterns, though delightful to enjoy, have been misery for sap collection. In mid February there was a run of days where the daytime temperature was around 40 and the nights were around 2o-30 degrees. This is perfect for a sap flow. However many figured it was a tad early to tap the trees. Keep reading


Sap leaking from tap hole.

Sap leaking from tap hole.

Sap leaking from the tap hole.

Sap leaking from the tap hole.

“Tap-tap-tap-tunk”, that’s how it was described to me by my friend Jim about what sound to listen for when hammering the taps into the trees. I remember last year on a wet snowy day, I was helping him tap the trees in front of his house. This was my first experience in the sap collection work. He gave me a drill, hammer and a few taps and showed me where to place the hole, angled up into the tree so the sap runs out, and then how hard to hammer the taps in.

He said to listen for that change in sound when tapping the taps into the hole. If you hear the “Tunk” then stop, don’t hammer anymore! If you do then the hole will split ever so slightly and then the sap leaks out. Well, I did remember those words this year, but  I was so sure that the taps weren’t seated firmly enough. So I went and tapped a few more times, just to be sure. You can see for yourselves the result.

It reminds me of a good proverb that my son actually just memorized: “Hear, my children, the instruction of a father, And give attention, that you may gain understanding”


The sweetest drip!

The sweetest drip!

I was finally able to take my boy out with me to go tap some maple trees. He was so excited. He loves taking walks out in the field with “Dadda”. We got to the sugarbush and he really wanted to use the drill! So I started drilling and had him stand in front of me and help push the drill and then clean of the bit and then drill some more. It was a perfect day for a sap run because the sap was just gushing out as we tapped! He was so excited and wanted to taste it all the time. I got a tap in and a hose connected and he started drinking it like a straw! I told him not to touch the tube to his mouth because we wanted to keep things as clean as possible (he had just finished eating cheesies and had an orange mouth and hands!).

Our sugarbush

Our sugarbush

He was a big help, fetching lids and taps and hoses. I let him hammer in the taps with me. Overall I think it was a great first experience for the both of us. Towards the end he was done with it before I was finished getting all the taps in. But he stuck it out.

In the creek, next to a nice clump of maples.

In the creek, next to a nice clump of maples.


My first tree tapping!

My first tree tapping!

Ok folks, the big news today is that my neighbor called back and gave me permission to tap the trees I had asked about, and even suggested I tap more around his house!! So this morning I got up early and walked out to a few trees and tapped them. I am making use of some hosing and “T”‘s. I have 5 trees tapped so far with 6 taps. I would have done more but I stopped for 3 reasons.

1. My battery for my drill ran out on the third tree. Yeah, so I was twisting the drill to get holes in the last two trees!!

2. It was getting late and I had to get to work

3. I want to tap the rest of the trees with my boy, Charles.

Today it is supposed to get up to 39 degrees, so this will be a great test to see how much comes out on my first ever sap collection!

Some more tapping

Some more tapping


So far I have obtained the needed equipment to collect the sap. I have the hoses and about 10 5- gallon buckets and all the taps and “T”‘s. A friend of mine who I am going to use for boiling the sap lent me the hoses and taps. My wife went around calling the local restaraunts and food service places and got a bunch of free buckets that I  picked up.

I washed the buckets and boiled the taps and tees and cleaned out all the tubing with soap and again with a little bleach. Now I am just awaiting permission to tap my neighbors trees. I went for a wal with my boy, Charles, and found some really nice maples on field edges and creek bottoms. I am careful to not ask for permission to tap maples in woodlots as those would be considered premium lumber trees.


The time has come. The Maples are flowing! It actually has come a bit early this year. I have been wanting to start collecting sap for Maple syrup for some time now. And now that my oldest boy is old enough to really appreciate it and help somewhat (2 1/5 yrs old), I will start with him this year..

I am planning on tapping only a few trees and am going to use hosing to a 5 gallon plastic bucket that will sat at the base of the tree. I will try to find one near our house and maybe a few on the way to work. I will than take all the sap to one of my coworkers and put it in his pickup. He will then take it to his sugar shack and boil it down with the rest of his sap. He has quite the system in place already. The deal is, for every 40 gallons of sap I collect, I get a half gallon of syrup back. You see it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. So I get half the product because I am counting on them to boil it down and put it in containers.

The above photo is a photo I borrowed of a sugar shack that my friend has. This one looks just like it. Its kinda set out in the woods. It has quite a nifty boiler in it and just enough room for some folks to sit around and have a good time keeping watch over the forming syrup.

I am very excited about it. Now that the days are a bit above freezing and the nights are below freezing, and its only early February….this might make for a good long season! I cant think of many better things than walking through the big woods with your boy, tappin’ trees for sap!

I’ll post pics of our progress!