by Deb Price
Typically, when one retires, the clock becomes unimportant and relaxation is the order of the day, at least for a little while. On Saturday, March 13th, I visited Tim Riegle, a rural Elsie resident and learned about how this retiree spends some of his free time. Tim, retired from the Michigan State Police Operations Department in 2012 after 33 years of service. He grew up tap- ping Maple trees as a youngster. His Dad George gathered sap and made maple syrup for almost 25 years. After his passing, Tim’s brother Dave, moved the operation commercially to Harrisville, Michigan where he operates today.
Riegle, who describes himself as a micro- hobbyist, got started tapping his own trees and making Maple Syrup after he purchased a grain silo in Eaton Rapids from an online auction. Tim and his brother Dave transported the silo to Elsie and set it up. He turned an ordinary filing cabinet into a wood stove, placed it inside the silo creating his very own “Sugar Shack”.
Several taps are placed in his 60-year-old Soft, Silver Maple Trees each year around the 3rd week of February, depending on the weather. “The sap will run once the trees start to thaw, best condition is a cold night, followed by a day warming up to about 40 degrees,” he explained. Once the sap is collected it is transferred to storage containers and kept at a temperature of 38 degrees or colder. It is then boiled with- in 7 days of collection. It takes 40 parts of maple sap to make one quart of syrup. The sap is boiled to remove excess water over intense heat, until it reaches 219 degrees. Riegle collects approximately 200-250 gallons of sap each season from his trees and turns that sap into approximately 5 gallons of delicious maple syrup. The entire process takes about 4-6 weeks each year.
For this retiree, at least once a year he is kept quite busy in his “Sugar Shack”. Thank You Tim, the syrup is delicious. Can’t wait to share it with my grandson, French toast is his favorite.
Deb Price is the Editor and Publisher of The Meridian Weekly