Equipment

Maple Syrup Season: so close yet so far away…

Brrrrrrrrrr it’s still chilly in the sugar bush. It’s getting as low as -20′s at night. We had a brief warm spell, but it didn’t last long. We are busy gearing up for the season and stacking that firewood.

Speaking of firewood, the bomb had some issue’s, but “Cyborg” Johny got it going again. YIP!

Bomb's Down

Bomb’s Down

 

Pat “The Master”, Casey”Lightnin” and Mike, started clearing trees and adding new taps to the sugar bush with the Section 5B Sap Ladder Project. YIP YIP!

 

Section 5B Extension

 

New Sugar Bush Section

New Sugar Bush Mainline

 

Adding A Sap Ladder

Adding A Sap Ladder

 

Approx 850 maples on tap and we’re trying for an even 1000. YIIIIIIHAAAAAAA!

Dave is going to be home soon! Saptosyrup Season 5 is real close.

 


Digging Out The Tanks

DCIM100GOPROSnow loads are again an issue up here in Northern Ontario. I decided to try and find the Sugar Shack and Tank Yard under all that snow. Yes they are all still there. That means we’re getting close now.

 

Enjoy!


2014 Syrup Season is Coming Directly

Clean, clean, clean that maple machine…


Photo’s From Our Midst…

Dog

Dogs

mikekurt

Break On Through...

Break On Through…

Hey Folks Getting Geared and Prepped for a New Season… We Found a Couple Photo’s From Last Year, Hope It Satisfies The Call Of Syrup Season Craving

Kcain Photography

At Rest For Now. Idle Axes…

 Its Coming Soon…


Rolling

STS has some stuff planned for 2014… A Coo Coo Coooooo…


Sault Star does write up

Hey out there, It has been an amazing time this year. We have been having a ton of fun as you can see by our batch videos. We have been working away getting the syrup out. The batches are coming quicker now as the season starts turn in to the peak of the season.

And it is at those peek time that is when things break. Just like our vacuum pump which decided to quite at about 9:00pm last night. So today was a matter of getting things rolling again and we are up and running. We have our selves a new motor and fixed up some leaks in our extractor system.

A few days ago we had the privilege of being featuring in the Sault Star. The story they did on us was really amazing with lots of pictures and a video. You can see the the story here.

well there is still a ton of stuff to work on, it is peak time and we are making the golden goodness.

Cheers


Sugar Bush Fall Cleaning

Syrup Season #4  is getting Closer!! Dave and I have been busy with New Projects and Syrup Season Prep work. I had some Visitors come and Help with the Fall Cleaning. The Robinson Family. Not the Swiss Version,the Echo Bay Crew.  Julie John Emmett and Puppa. Thanks Again for All the Help you Guys.

They took to the lines with Clean clean clean in mind, They did a Stellar Job just like the last time.

Our fall cleaning is part of the “get ready cause here comes the season” prep work we do at Saptosyrup. With roughly 4 months to go. (give or take a few weeks depending on what Mother Nature and her Friend old Man Winter do. They’ve been an Unreliable pair in recent years) The Season will come fast, as it always does and whatever we can have Ready when it hits saves us a Lot of time.

As a result of a Mini Bike accident I got to watch from a chair… Its not so bad hehe

Here are some Pics we have of the day of. Julie and Puppa avoided the Cameras But put in a solid effort in the Bush…. Thanks again Guys.

Deer Damage

Deer Damage

 

Emmette Manned the Water Pump

Emmett Manned the Water Pump

 

Who the Heck is.... oh its Johhny

Who the Heck is.... oh its Johhny

 

Squirrel Damage

Squirrel Damage

 

Emmette says Clean clean clean

Emmett says Clean clean clean

 

Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood....And look there's Mr Robinson....hehe

Its a Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood....And look there's Mr Robinson....hehe

 

 

Enjoy


Now we get weather

In the last two days we have finally gone down below freezing. It would have been nice to have that last week but we are still going. That sap is very cloudy but still nice and sweet and the buds are holding off for now.

We have had a great group of visitor in the last little while a few people who have never seen a maple syrup operation before. It it great when you meet people who really gets a kick out of the whole thing, you can really tell they love the process and are pumped to see it again. That is the thing with syrup, you can get addicted to the process as much as the taste.

Speaking about the process we have a great little video of batch 7, our bottling process and using the hydrotherm.

Enjoy

 


Really cool toy

I found this great video of the best toy I have seen in a while. I really want one!

This guy figured out how to boil maple syrup using steam. He has this great wood fired steam set up that looks like a hoot to work. He is not sure if it is more efficient than the traditional setup but it really is a cool looking apparatus.


Quick little update

Hello out there

Just a quick little update on what we were up to last weekend in the bush. It was a ton of little nick nacky work that had to be done, you know move this, attach that, patch this, connect that. We have the bush tied to the extractor, we have the extractor tied to the tanks. We just have to tie the tank to the large evaporator and hook up the automatic draw off.

Chuck is nearly there too, only a few little attachments and some plumbing and we are off to the races. We found a great blog or should I say that they found us. They are another maple syrup produciton pleace based out of New York. They are the home of the sapsquatch. As you know the sapsquatch is very powerful and mysterious create that lives primary on the hard work of fellow sap collectors. Beware his is perplexing nature!

enjoy the little


The new sugar kitchen

So we had a building on the Mikes lot that has been there forever. It is a great 10′ x 10′ shed that has a cement floor. This is going to be the place we are going to store all of our bottles and equipment. It is secure and critter proof and should work great.

Some of the video is shot a while ago before there was snow everywhere and that time will come again soon. Mike and I are trying to guess when the season will happen this year. I am thinking that March first is the time but he thinks it is going to be a bit later in the season.
Enjoy the video


Clean Clean Clean

Anyone who has done Maple Syrup will tell you that the most important and time consuming thing you have to do is Clean EVERYTHING. The cleaner you can make anything that sap or syrup touches the better the maple syrup will be.

Bacteria is the enemy and one that must be conquered though constant vigilance. Once you have everything clean the trick is to clean again. Than when it is really clean you should clean some more. Last year we used so much water that the Mikes well went dry and started to cave in on itself. This year should be different as we are going to be making our own hot water using our big evaporator so hopefully we won’t run into this problem again.

We have been getting some pretty warm weather in the last little while. Plus temperatures during the day for the most part, it is way to early for this stuff we are not quite ready yet. I don’t think we are going to be convinceing mother nature to hold off on her time table, if she says jump you jump.


Work Continues to begin

Well we are in the depths of winter right now and though it seems as if spring is a lifetime away we are still working feverishly to be ready. We have taken a large on a large amount of work with the new evaporator this year but Mike and I are confident that we are going to have everything ready to go.

Our main concerns at this point are making it easy to clean everything. Having Chuck the evaporator was pretty easy to deal with, one person could lift the whole pan and put it on the quad to clean it. Our new pan however is a different beast. We need a trailer to get it from point A to point B so I don’t foresee us moving it around during the season. The hood alone takes 4 people to take it off and it is heavier than you would think. So Mike and I have put some rigging up to make the job a bit easier.

We also dropped the height of our extractor and are building a better surface to keep it on.

We were also able to salvage some amazing speakers from the garbage pile which work great in the sugar shack. Last year we must have blown about 6 speakers as the stereo setup is not really thought out we simply found old broken speakers from one placer or another, plugged them in and turned the volume up as loud as we wanted. If they blew up we replaced them. The new speakers we found have not blown when we turned the amp up full blast so I think we found a winner.

It is also going to be nice there is not going to be as much moisture in the sugar shack because all of the steam is going to be piped right out the steam stacks and out of the building. Should make for a pretty amazing show, I can’t wait to get the boiling happening!

a picture from the new holes drilled thought the logs

Dave and Travis

More fun to come!

 


Stacks

Well, it’s that time of the year. Time to put up the Stacks in for the new evaporator. Not that there is a good time to do something like that. For those of you who have never put up a 13″ diameter stack 16′ up in the air it is not the most pleasant thing in the world. You might fall off the roof, you might drop the stack, you might crush your fingers the whole gambit of bad things.

We started by moving the big evaporator into position with the tractor. We used some good old tractor knowhow and placed it perfectly. We than put the stacks in up as high as we could on the inside of the building than proceeded to cut a rough hole in the roof. This was quite a delicate procedure as we already had 3 stacks coming out of the roof from last year. Our poor tin roof has started to look like a huge piece of swiss cheese patched with mismatched tin roofing on a ton of silicon.

Once we were ready for “the big lift” Mike and I move the 16′ of stack slowly up the side of the roof until we got to the peak. “All right lets lift it up”, I said wanted to get this over with as fast as possible. This was not about to happen as we just did not have the leverage or balance to get it done. Now for those of you who have significant others whom you love and love you,  you know that they can sometimes separate themselves from a situation that could be potentially life threatening. We decided to come at if from another angle and set up an extension latter latched to the building with a rope leading though the highest rung back to the ground where Brianna could keep the stack from falling.

Now the moment had come, we had the stack upright on the roof ready to lift and put it into the already secured stack sticking out about 3 feet above the roof. Now any number of things could have gone wrong, fingers crushed, falling off the roof, being tangled in the safety lines or loosing the stack off the roof. On the count of 3, Mike and I lifted and place the stack perfectly. A few seconds of panic and we were solid! The engine now has an exhaust!

 

 

Taken from the roof

shot from the roof of the sugar shack

Down the Stack

it's a stack victory!


New Maple Syrup Resources

I just recived an email from a new website called http://www.sugarbush.info.

This site was lauched “in an effort to list pretty much anything the Maple Syrup industry has to offer online.” So that sounds like a pretty Nobel cause and a resource that all maple syrup producers can use.

It is a pretty new site, launched in January 2011 but already they have over 500 listings of sugarbushs in both the United States and Canada.

This is definitely a site I am going to check out from time to time.


How to build a Sugar Bush – Main line

Hello out there

I am glad to have had a little break from the maple syrup season. Both Mike and I are sad that it is over but at the same time THANK GOD.

I had a great question from T. Miller a little while ago.

Any tips on starting the main lines would be great. My land is flat and I have been thining the crap trees out for a few years now.

Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.

I would get your self something called a sugar bush transit. It is a little tool that tells you were where a 4% grade is. We did a little video of it a while ago, here it is again.

I would also say that you should get gripples and a gripple tool to tighten your lines:

and finally you need a wire tie twisting tool to attach the main line to your freshly run cable:

I would say those are the three main things that you need to start running your main line. Please let me know if it helps T.Miller.


The legend of Burnsie

I just wanted to put together a little post on our favorite evaporator to date. Yes she is very inefficient, yes she is warped, yes she is not 100% square but this pan and archway has so much character that we can’t help but love her.

Mike’s father is the only one who really knows the history of Burns and it is spotty at best, his memory is not what it use to be. As the story goes Mike’s Grandfather was using a very old style flat pan with no channels in it. Burns was custom made by someone in Sault Ste Maire. She is a three channel flat pan made out of 1/4 stainless steal.

The reason we call her Burnsie is because of how much wood she burns. This pan is so inefficient that we can’t possibly produce Maple Syrup for the market on it.  The Days of old wood fired maple syrup are going to be a thing of the past.

There are however very fun facts about running Burnsie.

If you burn the pan it is no big deal – When I tried to run the pan with 3/4” of sap in it the first time I started it up I burnt the pan pretty good. The nice thing is that you can use a grinder to get it clean again. Try that with a delicate raised flu pan1.

It is easy to Run – Once you get a few inches of sap in her there is pretty much nothing that can go wrong2. No floats to jam up, no pipes to check on. Just keep the level high and the fire hot!

The Syrup is AMAZING – If I had my choice I would love to run this pan all day and I am sure that Mike would agree with me. The syrup is so thick and rich it is hard to describe, it like what maple syrup tasted like half a century ago. Mike calls it his Grandfather’s maple syrup.

This year we made a special batch 6 which took a ton of wood and over 2 days of boiling. I don’t know if we are going to run it next year or not but hopefully we get the privilege.

Thank you Alain for your comment the other day about getting one of these old pans for yourself. I would love to know more about it like how many channels does it have and what size it is?  Chances are you will have a blast making syrup on it. If your really ambition you might even use it for a couple of years if you don’t break your back feeding it thousands of man hours of fire wood.

But I bet you it will be the best Maple Syrup you have ever tasted.

1 – please don’t do this for any reason!
2 – never say that within ear shot of your evaporator.


To much sap

We have  too much sap right now. This sounds like a good thing but we can’t possibly evaporate  all of it. Sap doesn’t last forever it goes cloudy and sour after a few days of sitting in above freezing tempratures.

Since it is about 14˚C outside the sap will go bad even faster so it is a race against the clock.

So we have fired up Burns to preheat the sap and feed it to Chuck. This means that batch 9 is going to be a double wood fired batch.

Chuck and Burns making double fired

There is no snow left in the bush at all but people have been saying the ground is still frozen so who knows how much longer we have to collect sap.

 


Sepia Pictures

Well we have started to slow down from Maple Syrup production in the last couple of days. It is suppose to be cold over the next couple of day so we having a slow down in sap collection.
We have however stockpiled almost 500 gallons of sap which we have to turn into a Maple Syrup.
The last night we were evaporating Spencer took a few pictures in the Sepia! Enjoy.

Gravity Tank

 


Saturday Night

We had our first real evaporation night on Saturday night. We were out there until about 4:00am catching up to the sap collection. We have a pretty good chunk of syrup now that needs to be finished.

For those of you who want to know finishing syrup is when you do your final boil on a controlled heat source like a propane stove. This way you have constant consistent heat  in order to use your hydrometer or hydrotherm in order to tell what the density of the liquid is.

We definitely need some sort of way to evacuate the excess steam that Chuck creates. When the temperature outside dips down the place becomes full of stream, we call it the  Ghost. It’s time to put our thinking caps on and solve this problem and keep the Ghost at bay.

Sugarbush Computer system

The Ghost of the Sugar Shack

Emmett showing Roger how the Extractor works

Mike's sister Julie, helping out


Thunder and Lightning

Yesterday was amazing. Lots to report on the syrup front like the first thunder storm of the year. It happened at about 5:00pm yesterday and lasted for about an hour or so.

We also had our first power outage during production. Which just happened to occur  the first time we fired the new evaporator. We got to know first hand what it is like to be in peak production when there is no power in the building. Besides not having light or tunes we also had no means to put the sap into the gravity tank. But some times things work out as Spencer had just pumped up the gravity tank so we were full for a few hours.  Since the power was off from 5:30 – 7:30 it was not a real issue.

One issue was the amount of steam that we produced. We use an exhaust fan in order to drive the steam out of the building. Without our trusty power we had a bit of a sauna in the sugar shack, steam poring out the front door, the fan exhaust and every other crack in the building. We couldn’t see anything in there above 4 feet.

But Chuck and Burns performed great. It is a bit more work to keep both pans moving but we are seeing some real benefits to this set up in only it’s first run.

We pulled off our first batch from the evaporator and now just have to finish it, filter it and bottle it so we can bring it to you.

 

first run of 2011

Mike and Spencer

All flowers and Sunshine in the sugar shack

heat from the evaporator coming out of the sugar shack

Prepare for battle!


A new Pot

I went shopping yesterday and found a new pot! I don’t know if it is big enough though, we want to make a lot of syrup!

Hopefully it’s not.


A new member of the family

Mike and I are very happy to announce that we have a new Maple Syrup Producing buddy. This is our 14’ x 4’ Lapierre / Waterloo / Smalls Evaporator. This is quite a step up from our little flat pan and Mike and I are very exited about getting it rigged up.

The reason it took so long to get this thing out of the truck were these stupid little wheel wells which sat about 4” off the bottom. They where a constant battle with all the equipment, let that be a lesson for renting a 26’ Uhaul.

We had a great time picking it up in Owen Sound, driving down to Tobermory and making the crossing to ManitoulinIsland on the fabled ferry Chi-Cheemaun.

Here is a little video of our first born, Cheers:

Thanks to Roger Garside for helping up get this as quickly as we did.
Song “St. Joe’s” by The Dave Chapman Relief Fund.


UPGRADES ON THE WAY

Hello folks

With firewood done for the year and the setup in hibernation, Dave and I have been relaxing as much as the off season allows.  But it won’t last long. We have acquired some things to upgrade the operation.  There should be some interesting posts coming up. 

Enjoy

Mike