Friday, January 16, 2009

Maple Syrup

This is the third year I have tapped the Southern Sugar Maple and by far my most productive. The main thing is tapping it earlier in the year. This year I tapped them on January 3 and sap was running even then. I may need to tap them around Christmas. There are several locations of Southern Sugar Maple in Cabarrus County. 20 years ago, I noticed a large population in Southern Mecklenburg County. Trees need to be about 10 inches in diameter. Last year I tapped a couple of smaller ones that were going to be cut anyway. They gave very little sap and it was at odd times compared to the larger trees. The injury is the same actual size which means it is a large relative size. The literature says to tap at least 3 inches over and 5 inches up or down. From the picture you can see that I didn’t spend a lot of money on the set up. The 2 liter drink bottles were salvaged. 3 liter bottles would be better. Last year I had 3 liter bottle and it only overflowed once. The irrigation hose was salvaged. I had the nails and string on hand. I suggest a square knot or two half hitch knot around the neck of the bottle and an overhand knot at the top of the string so the bottle can be removed to pour out the sap. One bad thing about this set up is that the nail will be held tight by the end of the sap flow. Future generations will probably curse me because of it. At least I can use the same nail for at least three years. If I had cut the irrigation pipe a little longer, the pipe could go anywhere on the tree while the bottle still hangs on the same nail. In colder climates, people have to worry about the sap freezing but here in the sunny south that isn’t as much of a problem. Sometimes I do get a little ice. I think the pure water freezes first, so little chunks of ice can be discarded without losing much other than water. I cook down the sap on a camp stove and finish it up inside. I am getting abut a 40 to 1 ratio of sap to syrup. The other two years, the amount of syrup I get per tap has been less than what growers in Maine and Canada report but this year I am at about 10 ounces per tap and still counting. You can look at the maple syrup in the store and get an idea of how far to cook it. You don’t cook it down to the consistency of corn syrup. Compared to the USDA grade A amber maple syrup in the store, I have cooked down one batch that is lighter this year. Most of the syrup is a little darker which is considered a lower quality although I can’t really tell the difference in taste. Even at grocery store prices, tapping and boiling syrup isn’t real profitable but it is fun.

German Dovetailing

Lorentz Lingle received a tract of land north of my property from the Earl of Granville. Part of that property was donated for the church now known as Lower Stone Church. His son Frances received land adjacent to his father, including the land where this cabin sits, from Rowan County. A good guess would be that he got this property for service during the Revolutionary War. Frances married Marie Eve and their first four sons Joseph, Paul, John, and Daniel probably left for Illinois. This is based on the fact that Frances left them a dollar each in his will while Jacob and Laurence both got land. Frances also had 3 girls, Elizabeth who married a Moose and Catherine and Marie Eve. On March 30, 1825, Laurence bought the site where this cabin sits from his father Frances. By the 1830 census it looks like Frances had moved in with Laurence probably due to age. My guess is that Laurence built the cabin around 1825. I felt lucky to be able to pinpoint the property but it was described as on Second Creek and near the county line. Both are within 200 feet of the cabin. The county line is close enough that in 1850 Laurence was listed in both the Rowan and Cabarrus County census. Laurence had at least 4 kids, John, Anna, Louisa and Elizabeth. The cabin was 16 by 20 feet. The house is shown on a 1903 map as belonging to a J. A. M. Miller. In searching the land transfer records, I found no record of Laurence selling the property. I did find a record of J.A.M. Miller selling a portion of the land across the road from my property. I haven’t had much time to look beyond that. The cabin was extensively remodeled. Based on the style it was probably remodeled between 1860 and 1900. Additions were built to the east, to the north and a second floor was added over the cabin. Bricks were hand made on site for the chimney on the eastern addition. I found a huge dog print in one of the bricks. (A friend remarked that "everybody" got involved in that brick making.) The resulting house was abandoned before electricity was run in the area and the second story had collapsed by the time I purchased the property. So far, I haven’t found definite records of any of Laurence’s children. There was a Louisa about the right age that married a Bloom in Illinois about that time but no way to definitely connect the two. I need to search the marriage records looking for Anna or Elizabeth and see if one of them married a Miller. There were Miller families living within walking distance at the time. If Laurence did build this cabin, it would be at least third generation construction. (I found a difference of opinion on whether Lorentz Lingle was born in Germany or Pennsylvania.) One interesting thing is that all the original cabin logs are oak. I think it was more typical to use 2 or 3 runs of oak and then switch to pine. The remodeling cut 7 holes in the cabin for windows and doors. As a result, there isn’t much to save. And I don’t have much money to spend on it. I have had at least 4 people take a look at it and the best advice I have gotten is that taking pictures, sweeping it out and cleaning up around it won’t hurt.