Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Comment Exploiter un Arbre D'Erable, or How to Tap a Maple Tree.

Thursday 23rd October.   Riding across farmland on my way to St Aubert on a cold and windy morning..
and through pretty little French villages ....
Silence des Quebecois? Yet another grisly Halloween murder - this time apparently boiled alive and ready to serve up for dinner, perhaps with some fava beans and a nice chianti.  At least the crime scene has already been taped off. 
That evening Lady and I stayed with the welcoming Doebeli family, who moved out here from Switzerland to set up an equestrian centre Ranch Grain-de-Selles.  Jean Pierre Doebeli is shown here taking a lesson in their indoor riding school; a necessity for any equestrian centre in Canada as the ground is under snow for several months of the year.  This 'polytunnel' variety is most common.  Jean Pierre is a great believer in using games to increase the riders' confidence, which explains the little obstacle course.  Unusually for much of Canada, they also use ponies for the children, which I thoroughly approve of!

Corinne Doebeli went out of her way to make up a bed in a snug corner of their community room for me and made sure the heating was on!
I have been very grateful for this sort of hospitality with temperatures dropping and snow continually forecast since to travel light I had ditched the tent and was only carrying one sleeping bag and a survival bag.
 I joined the family for supper later in the evening - Jean Pierre and Corrine with sons Benjamin and Nicholas...
Friday 24th October - an dawn start for the long ride to Montmagny.
While riding through woodland areas I have occasionally seen areas cordoned off at random with blue or green rope, but could not work out for what reason.  It was only on closer inspection of such an area this morning that I realised it was plastic tubing for maple tapping. 
 Metal or plastic spiles as seen above are inserted into the trunk of the maple tree to collect the sap, which runs along the network of tubing to an evaporation building or  'sugar shack' where it is boiled to remove excess liquid and produce maple syrup of different grades.  If you are really interested, here is a little video on How to Tap a Maple Tree.     And of course it is delicious with waffles and blueberries for a truly Canadian breakfast.
Surprisingly Lady showed no interest in this shy woodland creature..
Refuelling stop on the long march to Montagny..
...where we were kindly provided with a roof over our heads (and in my case a comfy sofa in the gallery) at an equestrian centre with no name run not by Clint Eastwood but by the hardworking Rebekah Michaud.  Unfortunately no photo opportunities, though she found time in her busy schedule to run me into town to withdraw some more money.

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