Today the moppets and I went on a field trip to learn about how maple syrup is made. We already knew, but we figured it would be fun to actually see the process in action.
First, we checked out the small nature center that was a part of the forest preserve.
There were a few cool things about it. If you wanted to watch the birds eating outside and identify them, you could do that with some nifty binoculars.
Or, if you didn’t feel like using binoculars or observing real live-and-kicking birds, you could just look up at the stuffed ones hanging from the ceiling.
No, not creepy at all.
The live turtles were pretty cool. This was a wee baby turtle, about the size of the palm of my hand. I named her Myrtle. Mytrle the fertile turtle jumped a hurdle in a girdle. Gracious, I’m like a poetic genius.
Before going out in the field to see the real tree tapping action, we were treated to a rather cheesy puppet show. I think our age group was a little beyond it. Good effort, though.
We had to walk about a half-mile or so through the prairie, which was lovely, but cold.
See? Lovely. But cold.
When we got to the maple trees, our guide, Vince, explained how the process works. He was very impressed with our homeschoolers’ knowledge and willingness to participate. Way to uphold that nerdy homeschooler stereotype, kids. 🙂
I thought this tree was interesting. Look at the stripes!
BoyWonder wasn’t getting much out of the maple syrup info, but he sure liked this tree. I named it Bree. Bree the tree agreed to free three leaves for the wee one we see. The poetry just rolls out of me.
The girls got to try their hand at tapping.
Did you know that the thing I call a tap is actually called a spile? Well, now you do.
After they showed us how they boil the sap down, they took us inside for a little more info and a taste test. Did you know it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup? Well, now you do.
Here you can see all the places this tree had been tapped over the years. Kinda cool.
Everyone got to try some syrup at the end of the class. One of these jars had real maple syrup in it, and one had Aunt Jemina. Can you tell which is which?
One thing I did learn that I didn’t know before was that the lighter the color of syrup the better the quality. I would have guessed the other way around.
Other than the fact that it was 42 degrees and we were outside for the better part of an hour, it was a great field trip. And it makes me feel a little better about shelling out $14 for a quart of real maple syrup at Costco. That stuff takes a lot of work.