A sap bag hanging off one of the trees in our yard. Ben Hamilton, a friend of ours, has 150 taps in our woods and 25 in our yard. Because it’s been so warm this year Ben expects to get only 110 gallons of maple syrup after boiling all the sap. Usually he can get about 175 gallons.
This is a sap bucket hanging off one of our trees. This shows the tap in the tree and the sap drips out into the bucket.
We visited Ben in his “sugar shack” while he was boiling the sap. This year it’s taking about 60 to 65 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. Most years it just takes about 40 to 45 gallons. It all depends on weather – how many freezing nights and then warming up.
This is the stovepipe out the top of the “shack”. The open windows are actually chicken wire to let the steam and hot air out of the sugar shack. It’s above the boiler.
Ben goes around and empties all of his sap bags and buckets and pours them into this 400 gallon tank in the back of his pickup truck. It can take a couple of trips per day to collect all the sap. He has about 535 taps total in various locations.
When he gets back to the “sugar shack” he pumps the sap into another tank that feeds into the boiler.
This is what the sap boiler looks like.
This is one-time filtered pure maple syrup out of the boiler. Maple sap turns into maple syrup when it reaches 219 degrees. Ben filters it through special felt-like filters one more time before bottling.
One end of the boiler. This is where the sap goes first.
The brown pipe to the left is how the sap from the outside tanks gets into the boiler.
After the “foamy” sap boiling on the left has been there for awhile, it goes into the right side. You can tell it’s boiling down into thicker syrup by the color difference. Sorry you can’t smell it, but trust me, it’s smells amazing in the sugar shack!
This is the end where the sap is boiling and getting thicker.
Richard Wildman and Ben Hamilton inside the sugar shack.
It takes a lot of firewood to keep the boiler going. When the firepot is empty it can hold about one wheelbarrow full of wood cut in 2-foot lengths. Ben uses about a wheelbarrow every 15 minutes. When we were there late afternoon he had enough sap in the tanks to boil for another 15 hours. That’s 60 wheelbarrows of firewood!
This is the top of the sugar shack where the steam and heat escapes.