While we tapped some trees on Saturday, three days passed before I got a chance to check the buckets. So after finishing barn chores yesterday morning, I took the dogs for a walk on our usual loop, which passes through the woods where we're tapping.
As I walked towards the buckets I wasn't sure what to expect. Would there be any sap? Did we even tap the right trees? The temperature had been below zero the last few days, so I told myself, "don't be disappointed."
I lifted the first lid and let out a loud whoop -- sap!
There was only about 4" of accumulated sap on the bottom of the bucket, and approximately 2" of it was frozen solid, but it was maple sap all the same.
I emptied all four buckets -- the first two much fuller than the buckets on the old tree that we'd double tapped (I think we're going to move one of the spiles to another younger tree) -- and dragged the slushy sap home using a sled I'd expropriated from the kids.
I left it to fully melt and then measured it -- approximately 2.5 litres! I felt a bit silly being this excited about our first harvest as this amount of sap will yield only about 1/4 cup of finished syrup, but I was giddy. Ridiculously so.
Until I took Jack to hockey last night. It seems everyone around here is tapping trees. The first woman I talked to already has 300 spiles in, and hopes to tap 100 more. She said they'd max out their taps at 500 trees as that's about all they could handle this year.
I was more than a little sheepish when I told her that we'd tapped just four trees, because we thought that was all we could handle this year. I started thinking, maybe we should tap some more -- we could do at least 10, right? Or 15? Or...
Then I caught myself doing that thing that I always do. I compare myself to what other people are up to, and I never seem to measure up. Folks are always 'further ahead' on their homesteads and farms, doing more, achieving more, and I often feel like I'm just dabbling, or when I'm really hard on myself, I feel like a fraud. I'm not a particularly competitive person and yet I always seem to be keeping score.
Since moving to the farm I've become horribly impatient. I want to do it all -- grow food, raise animals, live the "good life" in our ultimate efforts to become more self-reliant -- right now! But I too often forget (or ignore) that it's the journey that matters, not the destination.
I'm learning most of these skills from scratch, while raising two kids and working three jobs. I know I should cut myself some slack, but it's hard. I waffle between feeling like an underachiever and feeling totally burnt out and exhausted.
What we're doing is enough. I'm enough. And even if we only harvest enough sap to make one bottle of syrup, it's one more bottle of homegrown goodness than we had last year.
So in the spirit of celebrating another first, before the kids left for school this morning I passed around a tiny sherry glass and we each took a sip of this spring tonic.
It was a sweet way to start a new day and a new season. It was enough.