A sugar bush is a forest, and the maple producer is its keeper. A nature-lover (and maple-lover), he or she has the responsibility to watch over each and every tree: to trim its branches and heal it when it’s sick; to replace those that are too old or broken by the wind; to plant baby sugar maple trees that will, in time, feed new generations of young Quebeckers, just like you!
Winter is the time for maple producers to pull on their snowshoes and go out to start tapping . “Tapping” means making small holes in the bark of the tree, into each of which is inserted a spout (also known as a tap or spile) to allow the sap to drip out. It’s captured by a bucket or a long tube that’s part of a tubing system that takes it right to the sugar shack.
The taps and tubing system must be monitored all year round. The wind may sometimes cause them to break or fall. The animals who live in the forest — and don’t know what these tubes are for! — may pull on them and cause damage.
The Sugaring Season
The maple producer collects the maple sap during a period of about 20 days in spring called the sugaring-off season. The producer’s family — grandparents, parents, children — friends, everybody … come to lend a hand because, once the maple sap is flowing, it’s often necessary to work ! Inside the sugar shack, the evaporator (a kind of mega-boiler) awaits the maple sap to turn it into maple syrup which can then be converted into taffy or sugar.
By the time summer comes, the sugaring season is over for another year. The maple producer puts everything back in its place, washes the buckets and tubing, and finally goes home for some rest!