We Bought our Land 10 Years Ago

It’s scary how many things I started counting in decades. Also scary, how much “damage” 2 well motivated humans and their machines can do over a decade. This isn’t the best picture to show everything we’ve created but it’s a nice before and after. For the fun story, it’s not actually taken from our land but I didn’t know where the boundaries were exactly at the time. And we acquired the parcel since :).

We’ve definitely entered a new phase in our adventure, it started around year 7 when things started taking shape and being nice. We’ve been more retrospective as we entered this new phase and started reaching anniversaries like this. It’s hard to discern fully the impact the decision had on our life trajectory, evidently though it’s been very far reaching. For those wondering, there hasn’t been a single moment of regret, far from it. We don’t need to practice gratitude, it’s here anytime we look out the window. Living in a nice environment is one thing, enjoying the fruits of years of shaping it gets to a level of contentment that I believe is buried deep in all of us.

The goal for us in trying the “back to the land” experience, was to avoid later regrets. It would likely fail, we would compromise heavily on the ideal scenario, we had even started doing so before finally finding our land, but we would get it out of our systems and be able look at each other in midlife knowing we tried. Turns out, it’s been a home run. There’s a lot more to say about why it worked and how it’s shaped us, but I’m afraid it might be too philosophical and maybe even boasting at times, see I’m quite proud of what we’ve done.

It’s the Season of Mistakes

Here I was, patting myself on the back for all the experience acquired over 7 sugaring seasons. This 8th one though, I’ve made several costly mistakes. A filtering snafu, sap overflow, woodpiles allowed to get wet, and more importantly, I misread the weather and let the pan full of syrup spoil. I thought it had been cold enough but it hadn’t and I let it sit too long. I could smell it right away when I started boiling. It didn’t smell bad but it was lacking the sweetness and you could tell something was off.

So that’s it, an anticlimactic end to a very decent season otherwise. It’s not worth rebuilding up the pan with the sap about to turn. And it’s ok really, we still made enough, and I’m actually enthused to get going again next year with a list of many things I want to improve, which I’ll implement until then.

Still though it’s a bit of a shame to waste all this effort. If nothing else, it’s good exercise out in the woods, and it’ll make a nutrient dense addition to a pile of compost. It’s always good to remind myself that I used to go to a gym and exert myself into the void. Moving 200 gallons of sap from the forest to a compost pile achieved something at least, on top of being a good workout.

We received a monster snow storm that made bucket harvesting a snowshoe ordeal. Esther loved creating little paths between the buckets.

Birch Syrup

One of the maple taps wasn’t producing much at all, so I moved it to a birch tree. I had tried before but was too late and didn’t really get anything. This time though, the sap was flowing and so I got about a gallon that I boiled on the stove inside.

And it was really delicious. Much like maple syrup but with more of a floral tone. Maple syrup takes ~40 gallons of sap to get 1 gallon of syrup, a 40:1 ratio on average. Birch syrup is 100:1! That explains why it’s not common. I’m definitely curious about it though. In one season, we make enough Maple syrup for our family’s generous use for a good 2 years. Maybe I could do Birch every other year. It’s the same process with the same tools, just more water boiled out.