Our trees are tapped and we are waiting for warm weather to bring on the sap!
Our farm is open to visitors 7 days a week from 10 to 4 starting March 11. There is plenty of snow in the woods so wear winter boots. The Kettle Boys and Shantymen won’t be operating their demonstrations until we have sap – so stay tuned to our blog for updates. Orders can be placed online anytime or by calling the farm at 613 256 5216.
While we are waiting, I thought I would share some experiences we have had this season. Our forests have many old trees in various stages of health.
If the tree is still growing it produces sap, but it can also have rotten and hollow sections which are important for wildlife.
Hollow trees like this one below are often used as dens by mammals such as squirrels, raccoons, porcupines and mice.
As I walked up to this old tree to tap it, I looked inside and found two young raccoons nestled together dozing.
We drilled our holes, tapped in the spiles and these residents didn’t seem to care at all!
Another species which depends on old trees and rotting wood is the pileated woodpecker. These large noisy birds are common in our old growth forests.
Here is a picture of a large tree with a rotten section which the birds are excavating in search of insects – usually large grubs.
The bird would not pose for the photo while we were in the area, but it will return and continue working until it has explored all possibilities for food.
With the warmer winter weather until the end of January, and the limited snowfall deer tracks were a common sight at our Lanark Farm (where the sugar camp is). They were browsing in our maple forest and on the surrounding farm fields.
However, with the arrival of heavy snowfalls in February, the deer moved into their winter habitat – lowland cedar areas and hemlock thickets. Deer do this as a survival strategy. There is safety in numbers and groups of deer walk along the same trails creating pathways in the deep snow.
While in wintering areas or deer yards the animals feed on woody hardwood stems (especially sugar maple) and the green branches of balsam and white cedar. Due to the concentration of feeding deer, they eat everything they can reach, creating a stark browse line. Our Clayton farm is a deer wintering area and you can see the effect of deer on the trees.