It sure has been a crazy start to the maple sugaring year! The weather was up and down, but never up or down long enough to get the sap moving, so we put off tapping but the students were getting antsy. They finally convinced me to tap one tree to monitor the week before February break.
Needless to say, we barely collected any sap that week, but the weather forecast for break was drastically different and we knew that we were in for a good week so we tapped a few more. Once the vacation week began, the weather got balmy, and the sap started flowing fast and furious. Chase and Ciarra, two eighth grade club leaders, came in one day to help tap more trees for a total of about thirty taps. Jack, another eighth grade club leader and veteran member for the past three years, was a big help as he came in twice, once with his cousins, to collect the sap that was flowing.
Even with their help, I was kept busy collecting once or twice a day in order to stay on top of the flow as it appeared that the season was going to be short. By the end of the week we had about 80 gallons in storage and another 15 or so lost to accidental spills or ants.
When the students came back from break, their collecting started back up on a more regular basis. Jack and Thomas were able to help out during their Citizen Science project time as their project pertained to our maple sugaring project, and others stopped in to collect when they could. Tommy, a sixth grade advisee, organized the other advisees and collected during advocacy. During this time, the students had their first encounter with a sugar hungry chipmunk who was found patiently sitting in a bucket of sap waiting for the students to rescue him.
Mike, whose son is a leader in the maple sugaring club, coordinated with me and happily volunteered his time, resources, and knowledge to work with some of the club members to build a sugar shack. He oversaw the club members as they sawed, drilled, hammered, and constructed their very first sugar shack that they will reconstruct each year during the sugaring season. This is a huge upgrade from the pop up shelter with no walls that we used in past years, which provided minimal protection from the elements. Pictures and blog post on this coming soon.