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Motor City Homestead » Blog Archive » True Urban Homesteading

True Urban Homesteading

This past weekend, Amy and I visited my brother and his family in Chicago.  They are true urban homesteaders - way more urban, way more homesteading than we do.  They’ve had chickens for a year now, and it was his email that convinced me we could pull it off.  Their latest adventure bears retelling. 

I looked out the window on Saturday and said, “Hey bro, what the heck are all those milk jugs hanging on the trees out front?” 

 Milk jugs in Chi-town

In case you haven’t figured it out, those are maple trees in front of his house, and he tapped them to make maple syrup.  The craziest part of the whole endeavor is that it actually worked!!  He said that on days when the nights were freezing and the days warmer, the trees would drip out literally gallons and gallons of sap.  That’s a good thing, because it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.

If you go online, you’ll find all sorts of detailed instructions on how to tap a tree.  You might get so freaked out by the equipment and expertise needed that you’ll never actually try it.  But rest easy, urban homesteaders, the maple syrup I had on my pancakes Sunday morning was the result of one drill bit, 3 old milk jugs, and some old plumbing parts.  My brother just drilled a hole, tapped in an old piece of copper tubing, and hung a bucket.  Then he boiled and boiled ’till it tasted right.

 img_0724.JPG

Tapped tree closeup

Sure, he got some crazy looks, but he also got maple syrup - and that seems like a worthwhile trade off to me.

52 Responses to “True Urban Homesteading”

  1. mrs. varney-crawford Says:

    hey nate - i saw your story about the maple syrup. what a great idea. my husband and i were on a trip to KY and i read to him your true urban homesteading story. he was so inspired, when we got home he tapped 3 of our maples and got 7 gallons of sap which made us 1 quart of syrup. thanks for the posting! he’s really looking forward to next march - he’s going to be ready!!!

  2. Nate Says:

    I’ve been scouting my neighborhood to see if we have any maple trees for next spring. I’ll probably have to butter up some neighbors between now and then.

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