It's maple sugarin' time when the daytime temp is around 40 but the nights are around 20. That's the last few days, so now that our backyard maple tree is just barely big enough to tap (10" diameter) I decided to tap it for the first time.
I don't have the metal spiles (spigots you hammer into the tree) or the hangy-buckets or the lids for the hangy-buckets and I refuse to buy stuff for every darn thing I feel like doing. So I decided to go DIY.
I figured that old-time Vermont farmers miles from the general store wouldn't travel for or maybe even have money for store-bought spiles and likely made their own. So I looked around for a hammerable tube. Aha--I DO have backyard bamboo! I cut a stem a bit over 1/4 inch wide. I cut one section about 6 inches long between joints, reamed it out manually with a narrow drill bit, and blew out the papery lining.The bamboo was a bit thicker than my drill bit, so I whittled a very slight taper on one end.
I drilled a hole about 1 and 1/2 inch into the tree, on the sunniest north side and slanting upward into the tree to aid drippage. I wanted to use my old-timey hand-crank drill but the bit I wanted wouldn't fit, so I used the cordless drill. IMMEDIATELY the hole began to drip!
I hammered in my bamboo spile and it worked--sap began dripping from the end at the rate of 1 drop per second. Instead of the hangy-bucket, I repurposed a section of old broken garden hose, trimmed its ends, washed and rinsed it, and fed it into a washed vinegar jug. Dug the jug into the ground a bit to keep it from tipping. The sap was dripping into the jug successfully. Here's hoping I'll get enough to boil down into syrup to surprise my husband!