It has been a unique season, I’ll say that much. An uncharacteristically cold March, followed by what seemed to me to be a rapid spike in temperatures has not boded well for the maple syrup season here in Eastern Ontario. With the temperature warming up so quickly, the significant snowfall we have experienced this year is now melting, quickly! Left in the snow’s wake is mud. Tons of mud! Enough mud to make sap collection with a motorized vehicle not possible without getting stuck in the mud. Back to basics for us! Armed with an 8-gallon milk jug, two collecting pails, a sled to transport everything and the will-power of true Canadians we set out to collect as much sap as our milk jug would let us. We headed for the furthest trees first and worked our way forward from there. Hauling everything there was more than half the battle – we dealt with steep inclines, a tippy sled and lots of sticky mud! We filled our jug from 30 buckets… only 110 buckets to go! Time to trek back to the house.
At the risk of losing our sap, we opted to travel a different route back, a route with less tipping hazards. We pulled the sled across the pasture instead of in front of the treeline. At the ridge we carefully guided the jug of sap down the path to the front field, checking the ridge-buckets along way. They were over half full and needed emptying too. We had to go back to the house to get the 50 gallon holding tank and UTV, not merely an 8-gallon milk jug to collect all this sap. Off we went, across the snowy field, taking turns pulling the sled or holding the jug upright while pushing the sled. Whose crazy ‘let’s make maple syrup’ idea was this anyways? I sheepishly grin and avert my gaze.