Hey fellow growers…
We bought our 27 acre farm/forest 1.5 years ago, and are converting it into an edible forest/orchard. Since we’re new to the property we don’t know two of our property line neighbors (the ones that own the farm-esc land that’s adjacent to ours). Yesterday a mystery began, and I need advice:
There are 8 giant sugar maples growing along the property line to our south. They’re almost certainly over 50 years old and were planted in a line to demarcate a border. Behind them (not running through their trunks) is an old barb wire fence that still stands. There’s also a survey stone and pole that exists to mark the corner of our property that sits just behind the trunk of the first tree in the row.
Yesterday we noticed someone had come onto our side of the property and setup maple syrup taps on every single tree (3 lines each, and a 5 gallon bucket for each tree). We asked our neighbor who also owns 2 of their own maple trees in that same line of property that were tapped on their side if they knew who did it, and they were clueless (they winter in Florida and so aren’t in upstate New York right now). We and they both share a border with a farmer we’ve never met (the land on his/her side of the trees is a swamp).
One extra piece of info to make it more interesting: At the end of the maple tree line and offset just enough to be straddling both sides of the actual property line is a full grown apple tree. The apples are quite good (small but good) and probably was a chance seedling at some point since it’s in the bend of a creek (roots extend into the creek bed). We took the apples from it (both sides, so we were the trespassers at that point last fall) and made hard cider which was delicious.
What would you do in this situation? I’m particularly interested in advice from those who have had fruit/tree property struggles before, and those with large farm borders where things get murky.
This is already pretty long but to answer the question, what did we already do? After mulling it over for a day and never being able to get a hold of anyone in the town sheriff’s office because they just don’t answer the phones ever, we laminated an index card with our names, number, and request to call us, identifying ourselves as the property owners (of at the very least , the side of the trees they were operating on). We tied up the maple lines and took the buckets to our barn but didn’t take the hoses or the taps. We also put our wildlife camera on a fallen branch that looks down the line of the trees.
More info: This did not happen last year. There are no signs of these trees previously being tapped (no evidence of it that I could find). We plan to tap these trees starting in 2024 to add a small batch of syrup to our farm sales offerings because this is a business we’re starting.
Thanks everyone, I hope at the very least this mystery provides the group with a thought experiment for the day. Stay safe out there.