Thursday, 23 February 2017

Syrup Season 2017 - Tapping the trees!

As I'm pretty sure I've mentioned before, my parents live on 47 acres in the country on a maple farm. It's just a hobby farm, but every year we do roughly 1,200 taps. And since Ontario made Family Day a thing, it has become our tradition that Family Day Weekend is the time we all go to my parents and tap the trees.

My cousin, Spencer, drilling into a tree close to the Sugar Shack.

This year was by far the smoothest year we've had and I think that was mainly because this was the first year my mom could really take the time to plan things effectively. Previous years she was either working full-time (as we all are) or, in last year's case, planning her house renovations. This year she had the time and energy to prep everything so we were right ready to go on Saturday morning.

How it works:
The men split into three teams of two and tap all the trees, the women mostly spend the day cleaning. Cleaning the sugar shack, cleaning the tanks (of which there are three), and in my case, running around the property, giving the men extra batteries and spiles so they don't have to trek back to the house.

Taken on Monday, it was SO warm this weekend almost all of the snow melted.

My sister and aunt worked on cleaning out the Sugar Shack, while my mom, two sisters-in-law, and myself focused on the tanks. I would periodically ditch them when my phone would ring to go bring supplies to the men.

My aunt Coralee and Uncle Oren popped by mid-day to take pictures of the process. I will be showing you combined images from her and my cellphone camera.

My aunt and sister cleaning the Sugar Shack.
This is the building we make our syrup.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography
The kids were mostly old enough this year to just play among themselves (within eyesight of an adult of course. I think. I don't know... They weren't my responsibility lol). With the youngest just taking a lengthy nap in her stroller:

My youngest niece, Evelyn.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

The work is all relatively easy, but time-consuming. By far the most difficult tank to clean we had to clean was the main one that is nearest the house. This tank is the largest on the property. It also does not have a roof over it yet and as a result it had a layer of ice in the bottom about a foot thick. 

My amazing sister-in-law, Desiree, who saved my bacon when I tweaked my back again trying to lift out a giant chunk of ice we had hacked off with a hammer.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography
After hurting my back, I wasn't much help inside the tank anymore so I just continuously brought out hot water mixed with soap and alcohol to Desiree and Breanne (my other sister-in-law) as they finished the job without me. 

Main tank
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

Tapping Teams:
- my brother Josh and my dad
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

My dad
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

- my brother, Travis and my cousin, Spencer
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

- and finally, my brother-in-law, Greg and Jake
Greg, who decided it was a brilliant idea to wear shorts.
His legs got mangled by the thorns and the bushes. Pretty funny actually.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

This is quite possibly my favourite picture of Jake ever.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

On our way to the valley tank:
From left to right: Me, Desiree, my mom, my dad
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography
Des and I decided to take a short-cut down the hill and we were sliding the whole way down.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

My mom was the sensible one and just took the path.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

A man on a mission.
My nephew, Aiden.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

Bubbles in the lines as the sap started to travel to the tanks.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

A thing of beauty.
On Monday, Jake and I took Seamus for a walk through the bush and went to see the giant tree that my dad and Josh had to deal with on Saturday. This tree had torn its roots right out of the earth and fallen on a main line. The first thing they did that day was cut the tree to free the sap line.

Top half of the tree.

Bottom half.
You can see where they had to cut it.
That blue line running through the middle had been crushed.

Side-view of the roots torn up.

Seamus for scale.
When I called Seamus over to take a picture so you could see just how large the tree was, I wasn't sure if he'd cooperate. But sure enough, as soon as I put my phone away he went right into the hole under the tree's roots. And then proceeded to climb all through the roots. This dog is fearless, unless you wiggle a plastic bag at him... plastic bags are pure evil apparently. 

Jake, sporting his maple leaf tattoo as he taps a maple tree.
Only thing that could make this picture any more Canadian was if there was a hockey game in the background and someone for him to say "sorry" to.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography
Travis and Spencer.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

We keep one bucket on the property for educational purposes.
The sap was flowing instantly. See the drip?

The Shed. This was the first outbuilding my parents added to the property.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

Jake and Greg.
Credit: Coralee Barfoot Photography

It was a great weekend and the perfect excuse to be outside all day. So if you're in the neighbourhood, come check out Kallonen Maple Farm. You can also follow us on Facebook where we post news, pictures, and some videos every now and then. 

The whole gang.

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