Sugar on tap

April 15, 2005

Stryker, OH—An old "sap" lives in northwest Ohio—or better yet, an old tree full of sap. As a hobby, David Brounley, MD, enjoys producing maple syrup on his 55-acre property and sharing the sweet concoction with his wife and other loved ones.

"My wife grew up in Cincinnati and I grew up in New Jersey," Dr. Brounley said. "In 1970, I opened my first ophthalmic practice in Long Beach, CA.

Wide open spaces The Brounley's lifestyle has changed significantly since their move.

"We have three ponds and I enjoy catch-and-release fishing for large-mouth bass," he said. "One-third of the land is densely wooded, another third is rented out as pasture and farmland, and the rest is land where our home is located and where we maintain a nicely landscaped yard. We have four dogs, two cats, and two goats that call our property home as well."

"Because the land has so many ponds and it is often quite wet, we have many frogs hopping about in the spring and summer," Dr. Brounley said. "My wife and I thought it was a unique name, and when you can hear those frogs croaking all through the warmer seasons, it really seems to fit."

Soon after they purchased the property, Dr. Brounley was surprised to learn that in the 1950s, industrialists came to the property to hunt, fish, and develop a small maple syrup business.

"I found a lot of leftover pieces of equipment on property," Dr. Brounley said. "In what they referred to as a 'sugar shack,' I found a significant amount of equipment to tap the trees. After further investigation, I found evidence of the maple business throughout the woods. Many of the trees still had the tapping marks, and a 1,000-foot-long draining line was installed to transfer the sap from one end of the property to the other-all of which was still in place."

Learning from a pro Although Dr. Brounley was not intending to make maple syrup when he purchased the property, he became interested when a local resident approached him.