Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Maple Sugaring at a Local Arboretum

We went maple sugaring.  You can see the bucket attached to the maple tree on the left.  In order to go through the process of maple sugaring you must first have a maple tree.  The tree must be at least 31 inches in diameter before you can tap it. 

The lid on the bucket is mainly to keep the rain from getting into the bucket.  The sap is 98% water and 2% sugar .

The children are measuring the diameter of the tree to see if they can tap into it.  You can see this is only a sample tree, which they are measuring.

We tap the tree with a drill.  Each child had a turn with the drill and adult supervision.

 She demonstrates how you have to angle the drill.  When the temperature freezes at night, the sap will run up the tree to protect the spring buds.  During the day when the temperature rises above freezing, the sap will run down the tree.  That is the sap we are trying to catch as it returns to the bottom of the tree.  Thomas is having a turn at it now.

 Claire also tries as the drill gets close to the sap.  The closer you get to the sap the harder it is to drill.
 Once you reach the sap, the sap should immediately start to come out.  You will need to clear out the wood pulp quickly to let out the sap.  Depending on the temperature will determine how quickly the sap flows out of the tree.
 There are different types of spiles you can insert into the maple tree.  The one in the photo is a spile the early settlers used.  It is made out of wood.  Some spiles are metal and even plastic.

 Thomas is holding a metal spile.  This will be inserted into the tree so that the sap can drip out and into a container.

 If you were to fill all these milk jugs with sap,
 it would fill this just to the water line.  (I don't know how to turn the picture right side up.  Sorry.)   The sap must be heated so most of the water evaporates.  This is done outside.  When the sap starts to tan in color, the sap will be brought inside and heated to a temperature of 220 degrees Fahrenheit.  At that point the maple syrup has been made.  It will be strained twice before it can be consumed.  Boy, is it sweet!

 Thomas is playing the bark game.  He is trying to feel the bark of a cherry tree blind folded. 
 He did his best, but it is pretty tricky. 

Trees can grow around things.  Look!  HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!!!!
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Saturday, February 5, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Heidi captured this robin in the front yard.  

Just think spring is just around the corner.  January's frigid temperatures kept us inside most of the time, but we had a blast with family at Cindy's annual family reunion.
Rebecca and Lilly enjoy each other's company.

Everyone wants a picture with Lilly except for Sammy.  He wants a picture with Romeo.

 We loved all the snow!  The children were able to spend time outside working in it and playing in it.  The activity that captured most of their time was building a snow fort.  You can see some of the photos following.

 We were able to go to a raptor presentation on owls.  We tried to get a good photo without a flash.  This is the best we could do.  This is Jackson from the Schuylkill Center.