Projects at the Cabin


Maple Syrup


Our projects:  In the winter of 2016-17 we ran about 10 taps on bigleaf maple trees. This was our first venture. We ended up with a couple of pints of syrup, although we had a lot of mishaps. Hint:  if you burn the syrup while boiling it down, use it as a flavoring to make ice cream!  Another hint:  keep those containers very clean!

The hardware you put in the tree is called the spile (although I met an old-timer who called it a “spoil” and I’ve seen it referred to in the literature as a spoil, too.  We ordered metal ones from a supplier in the East (there are many), but this summer, after seeing an article on elderberry spiles, we made some from branches of blue elderberries.  The commercial ones are L shaped, so the tubing goes downward, but the ones we made from elderberries are linear. I would think you could use PVC or lots of materials.  Elderberries have huge pith (the material that feels like styrofoam) in the center of the stem. We chose 2-year old stems that had outer diameter similar to the spiles we bought, trimmed them to 2-4″ long, and then reamed the pith out of them with a stiff wire (with a rusty pinflag, to be more exact).  After that we let them air-dry. We’ll see if they work!

(More to come!)

Some resources:

Facebook group:  “Bigleaf Maple Tapping in the Pacific Northwest”

Oregon State University Nontimber Forest Products for Small Woodland Owners:  “Bigleaf Maple Syrup”

Article describing mechanism of maple syrup exudation.

Bigleaf Sugaring:  Tapping the western maple. By Gary and Katherine Backlund. 2012. Published by Backwoods Forest Management, Ladysmith, BC.  (Was $15 + shipping) Helpful book. In 96 pages, tells about equipment to get started, choosing trees, drilling, sap collection and handling, and making syrup.

Production and quality of sap from the bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum Marsh) on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. By Deirdre Bruce 2003 (Maple Syrup Thesis, MS UBC)



Our projects:  In late July and early August 2017, we harvested about six bundles of thirty-six nettle stems for fiber.  (More to come!)

Some resources:  (still in construction)

Riparian Restoration

Our projects:  We’ve been designing a riparian restoration project with several other landowners with the goal of improving habitat for chinook salmon and other species.  In summer 2017 people submitted grant proposals that are still under consideration. (still in construction)


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