Into the woods…


maple sugar outing 003Friday was field trip day. Our school was sponsoring an outing to Jennings Environmental Center to learn all about maple sugaring. We debated in the morning whether we should go because of the temperature outside. It was a very cold day! We finally decided to go for it. I have wanted to see how maple sugaring was done for years and always seem to miss the opportunities when they come up. The kids were just eager to have a half day of school and get out of the house. 🙂maple sugar outing 004

It was about an hour drive and we arrive just as the program began. The man teaching the class was a great teacher..very engaging and interesting. In the center we learned a little background information on trees before we were sent outside into the woods to learn about the maple sugaring process. The kids were thrilled to see two families from our co-op were there as well so they were able to see some of their friends. The class consisted of walking on a trail through the woods to different stations to learn about the history of tapping maple trees for syrup beginning with the Native Americans, then the pioneers, the early 20th century and concluding with modern techniques. The lesson began with the kids learning how to identify a maple tree (without its leaves) and the process of tapping it. Unfortunately that day was very cold so no sap was running. We learned that for the sap to run the tree needs a cold night followed by a 40-50 degree day. Even though the taps weren’t running the class was still fascinating and I learned a lot. maple sugar outing 002

Tyler was so good. He listened and was very well-behaved. I was so proud of how well he did during a pretty long presentation. His only complaint was how cold it was. I think that was everyone’s complaint. 🙂  At the end of the trail we came to the evaporator that is used to boil the water off the sap so you end up with syrup. We learned that for every 40-50 gallons of sap harvested you will end up with one gallon of maple syrup. After seeing the laborious process that goes into making maple syrup I understand why the price of it is so high.

Turning the sap into syrup.

Turning the sap into syrup.

At the end of the tour the kids were all able to sample the syrup that was made there and agreed that it was much better than Aunt Jemima’s!  We ended up purchasing a small bottle of syrup to take home for a treat. It was a wonderful outing but by the end we were all ready to climb into the car and turn on the heater! 🙂

Tyler trying REAL maple syrup.

Tyler trying REAL maple syrup.

When we arrived home it was time to start preparing for another visit into the woods. Rusty’s boy scout troop asked if they could use our property for a campout. Toby arrived home around the same time we did so the boys headed out into the woods to find a good camping spot. They finally found a spot that Rusty liked, raked the ground to prepare for the tents and made the fire ring. They then came back to the house to get their tent, drop Tyler off with us girls and gather extra clothes, food, and fire wood.  I could tell that the last thing Toby wanted to do on a Friday night, after a long day at work, was to sleep outside in the cold with a bunch of boy scouts but he got ready to go without complaint..what a good Daddy!

Toby and Tyler on the ATV looking for a camping spot.

Toby and Tyler on the ATV looking for a camping spot.


Tyler, the girls and I had a quiet night at home. It just about killed Tyler to not be with Daddy and the boys around the fire but we felt it was important that Rusty had some special time with Toby alone. Tyler had a tough time falling asleep without Toby here to tuck him in but he eventually fell asleep. The girls camped out in the livingroom and watched “chick flicks” until they fell asleep. They loved having no boys around to battle over the remote!  I had grand plans of staying up half the night and getting some projects done without Toby home but around 11:00pm the week had caught up with me and I was ready for bed..Oh well. I slept so well. In the morning Toby asked me how I had slept and I sheepishly admitted to a wonderful night sleep unlike Toby who slept on the cold, hard ground. I told him it was kind of nice being able to stretch out and hog the whole bed with out him there to which he answered, “How is that any different from any other night.” OH! So rude! 🙂

My handsome boys!!

My handsome boys!!


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