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Busy Busy Bees

March 5th, 2011

We’ve been busy as bees recently, not making honey, making maple syrup. The sugaring season has been GREAT this year, which is really nice, but it’s keeping us far too busy. We’ve been up late every night gathering sap and we’re up early the next morning to spend our day boiling it down. At least I can check on it while I’m working since I work from home. The lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me, but the late nights and early mornings are well worth the sweet reward. So far we’ve collected 137 gallons of sap and have over 3 gallons of finished syrup.

We’ve been enjoying sourdough pancakes every morning for breakfast with freshly made syrup, you sure can’t beat that! That being said, I’m tired. I need a little of this.

It doesn’t look like that will come until late next week, the weather forecast looks like sugaring will be in our future all next week and maybe into the next.

What keeps you busy this time of year?

22 Comments to “Busy Busy Bees”
  1. nic@nipitinthebud on March 5, 2011 at 8:55 am

    oh my word that’s gallons and gallons of syrup – how marvellous.
    Maple Syrup here is so expensive (about £4-5 for a 250ml bottle) and then it’s probably a poor imitation of what you have.

    Digging is keeping me busy at the moment, preparing the beds for early potatoes. I’m not normally so organised at this time of year but my parents have been helping so I’ve been making the most of their generosity and motivation :o) They’ve got more energy than me!

    Reply to nic@nipitinthebud's comment

  2. Katherine on March 5, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Maybe you need to imitate the cat and take a short mid-day catnap. That is a LOT of raw syrup to boil down!

    Reply to Katherine's comment

    • Susy on March 5, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Yes, perhaps I should. Mr Chiots does sometimes, I have a hard time sleeping during the day. Usually a sit down with a book and a cup of coffee is good enough for me.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Nickie on March 5, 2011 at 9:54 am

    we are sugaring here now too! But we jsut started, can’t wait to have my maple suryp :)

    Reply to Nickie's comment

  4. Nebraska Dave on March 5, 2011 at 10:24 am

    Collecting maple sap and boiling it down into maple syrup seems like a lot of work but after it’s all over you can enjoy the fruits of your labor for quite some time. Does the real maple syrup eventually crystallize like honey does? We aren’t far enough North nor do we have many sugar mape trees here in Nebraska so we are a little out of the loop for the early season sap collecting.

    Have a great sugar maple day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

    • Susy on March 5, 2011 at 11:29 am

      If you finish your maple syrup to the right temperature it won’t crystalize. If you finish it too high it will, but usually only after 6 months or so. It is definitely well worth the effort to do it, this has been our best year yet.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on March 5, 2011 at 3:38 pm

      And contrary to popular belief, you don’t need sugar maples. It just takes less boiling with sugar maples to get to the finished product.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

  5. Jaye Whitney on March 5, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Digging, weeding and planting seeds/seedlings is keeping me very busy right now, but I love it!

    There is nothing like connecting with the earth this time of year :) I’m putting positive thoughts and wishes into the ground with each one, hoping that they’ll grow strong and sure!

    Reply to Jaye Whitney's comment

    • Susy on March 5, 2011 at 11:30 am

      Soon enough I’ll be out digging and weeding, although I think the St Patties day guideline of planting peas & potatoes will have to be moved back. The ground is still pretty frozen around here.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Marie on March 5, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    I’ve wanted to try making our own syrup, but don’t think it’s feasible since I work full time, away from home. So for now, we’ll just rely on all the great local maple syrup others make and sell.

    We’ve also gone to the Geauga Park district’s “class” for the 3-5 year old crowd where they learn about thie history of maple sugaring and how the sap is collected and cooked down. That’s coming up in a week or two and my son is excited about it – he remembers the part at the end where he gets to sample the syrup :-)

    Reply to Marie's comment

    • Susy on March 5, 2011 at 5:06 pm

      There are a lot of people that save sap all week long then boil down on the weekends, of course you need a lot of containers to store it in.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  7. Michelle on March 5, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Does 137 gallons of sap ONLY make 3 gallons of syrup? Or is that all you’ve gotten to so far?

    Reply to Michelle's comment

    • Mr. Chiots on March 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

      Believe it or not, since we have regular maples (not sugar maples) it is about a 50:1 ratio sap to syrup.

      Reply to Mr. Chiots's comment

  8. MAYBELLINE on March 5, 2011 at 1:17 pm

    Blasted, tenacious weeds.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  9. Marcia on March 5, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    This is almost making me cry since I made waffles this morning only to realise I was out of maple syrup! I had Nankin cherry syrup but it’s not the same. I love reading your posts on sugaring since it reminds me of my family’s maple farms in Quebec. I have pictures of my grandparents collecting maple water in a huge wooden barrel pulled by a bull. They couldn’t afford a horse and the bull was also used on the farm in summer. Now that’s what I call organic.

    Reply to Marcia's comment

  10. Liz J on March 5, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I would love to make Maple syrup! Do you do this “in the kitchen”? Maybe I’ll give it a try next year. Also….thanks so much for your blog on Tropical Traditions ~ I have 2 orders from them and love their products. Also got a great book on coconut oil on Amazon. Thank You! I wouldn’t have gotten into this without you, as tropical oils have had such an “unjust” stigma to them.

    Reply to Liz J's comment

    • Susy on March 5, 2011 at 5:08 pm

      Sometimes if the weather is nice we boil down over a fire. This is actually called kettle syrup and has a slightly smoky flavor.

      This year we’ve had a lot of rain so I boil down inside with my stove hood on high and a few windows cracked to keep the airflow going and to keep it from getting too humid in the house.

      Now that we’re tapping so many trees and boiling so much down we might try to build a little sugaring area outside with a chimney to use less energy since we have plenty of wood.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Seren Dippity on March 6, 2011 at 7:11 pm

        This seems like the perfect application for a “Rocket Stove”… I’ve read about them and am fascinated with their economy of wood use and ability to create such high heat. Google for general info, but
        here’s a link to someone who built one:

        to Seren Dippity's comment

  11. sarah on March 5, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Do you know of a resource with more info about doing this? What kinds of trees do you need, what areas can you do this in? I grew up in Texas so I never heard of anyone doing this (except in Little House on the Prairie, of course…)

    Reply to sarah's comment

  12. Stone Soup on March 7, 2011 at 8:33 am

    The sap has just started to run in Maine and I am very excited. We have never made maple syrup before, so we are newbies! My husband is such a good sport and I am lucky to have a strapping and able bodied 13 year old son who is willing to collect sap for us! We have lots of sugar maples around, some borrowed equipment including an evaporator (which should make things a bit easier) and plenty of cut firewood for cooking it down. We’re just waiting for the weekend to boil it down. Wish me luck . . .

    Reply to Stone Soup's comment

  13. Robin on March 8, 2011 at 10:04 am

    I think we have that cat’s twin!

    Reply to Robin's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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