Snow 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.
Clean, clean, clean that maple machine…
Stay Tuned in Here Cause we have some Fun Things Coming from the Sugar Bush this Year…
Despite the insanely warm temperatures the last few days we have been collecting sap on a steady basis. It has not been an amazing year to say the least but the year is not quite over for us. I am hoping that the buds are going to hold off for a few more days and we can keep getting clear and happy sap.
We are still chasing batch number 8, we are just trying to get enough sap to make it worth while to start up the evaporator. It has been a love hate relationship with the big dog, Mike had to take the whole burner apart and clean every nook and cranny. We know a lot more about how it works now, lets hope we can keep it working.
We have had a ton of visitors up at the shack in the few weeks that we have been boiling, It has been a lot of fun. We have put together a quick little video for you guys to take a look at. Shot on St. Paddy’s in the sugar shack Enjoy!
Long time since our last update and a lot has happened. So we are finished our first batch of syrup. That’s right batch 1201 is ready to for sale. But there is only a very limited supply.
If you would like to pick up a bottle you can get it at. The Bean in Sault Ste Marie. Our wood fired maple syrup is $27 for a 1L bottle. These are special small batches and we have a very limited supply.
Anyway here is a quick little video of what we have been doing and some pictures.
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.
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!
More fun to come!
Well there has been quite a bit of activity in the bush in the last little while. We have been working non stop for the past two weekends. We now have the evaporator in the building, nothing really hooked up yet but boy are we happy that there is no chance that a branch will fall on it. I can also tell Mike how I hit it with a golf ball as there does not seem to be any real dents or dings since we took it out of the uhaul.
We also tore everything out of the old shack, rebuild the floor and now our sugar shack will be much easier to keep clean.
We also spent some time organizing the hole in the universe known as “THE BROWN SHED”! That thing was an enormous junk pile. So now we know where things are for the most part which makes life that much easier.
Things are moving forward now, summer is over and it is time to Gear UP! Get it done!!!!!
Hey out there.
I invited a couple of friends up from Toronto to see what Maple Syrup was like, they worked like crazy and had a good time.
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.
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.
Well I was back on the island getting everything ready for the new season. I can’t believe another year is almost here. I think I am more worried this year than I was last year. Last year we had no clue how much work it was going to be, this year we know what to expect and that is what makes me worried. Then again we are much more prepared, we just need to get everything in running order again. Last weekend we spent time getting everything cleaned and prepped so that as soon as the sap starts flowing we are ready to boil seamlessly, or well as seamlessly as possible.
We spent a huge amount of time cleaning the whole sugar shack. We cleaned every log, every nook and cranny. The sugarshack has not looked better. We also expanded the bush to double our tap count, now a little over 800 . The extra sap is going to be great to be able to get boiling right away. We will end up with too much sap, but this is all preparation for 2012 when we are hoping to get the big guy fired up. The extra sap should make for some very very very long boils. But hey to much sap is better then not enough.
I can’t wait
I have had an amazing weekend up at the sugar bush. Mike has done so much work up there it blows my mind. When I arrived all the runs were completed, all the drops were in. We have a new count of 400 taps. I am incredibly happy.
That being said there was still a ton of stuff to complete in the sugar shack. You would not believe the hours we put in! Because I did not post anything all weekend I thought that I would put together a video that shows the whole processes we went through when building the sugar shack, enjoy.
I would also like to say thanks to Al for posting the information about the different maple syrup festivals that are taking place. If I hear of any more I will let you know. You check out the full list he has here.
It has been far to long since I have written about maple syrup. To tell the truth have been pretty busy. I mean, I always use that as an excuse but I really was pretty busy over the holidays. I had a huge flash site to develop please check it out, funcheez.ca. Cheese shaped like dinosaurs and planets, pretty cool stuff.
Anyway I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who purchased maple syrup over the holidays It is really going to help this year. It really pumped me up for next Christmas. I guess I have a few different times of year to look forward to. Next year it would be great to have store front of some sort, I bet I could really make a go of it.
I also made a few batches of maple candy, I am 1 for 3 right now and I think I know what happened last time. I let the candy get way to cold before I put it in the mold. I have not yet recorded how to make maple candy on video yet as I don’t want to look completely inept at the process. We will wait until I can look really professional.
I have found the time to put together another little video from that last time I was up North. It is a quick little show of what our evaporator looks like and how it will work. It might look a bit weird because we have one pan stacked on top of another to keep it out of the way. I assure you It will do the job this season when the sap starts flowing. I hope that you enjoy it and have a safe and pleasant new year.
Today started out great. We began the day by fixing up the sugar shack. We installed a rudimentary sink drain for the sink . Mike put in some more rafter braces and cut out a few more logs. The Sugar shack looks amazing, much more wide open.
We did not spend much time out in the bush today as the weather was not helping what so ever. We are going to be able to get a few small things done tomorrow before I have to head back down south to Toronto. I really wish I could stay up here from longer but I have to keep working away at my web development stuff.
We took some time to visit with Keith Brown and pay off some bills, we picked up a gripple tool and some mainline ties. We should be all set for tying on the lines early tomorrow morning.
After we came back we leveled out the main evaporator and put in a sink and counter. We also put some insulation between the roof and walls to hold in a bit more heat. It gets nice and toasty in there now.
I will be able to post some videos and pictures when I get back to Toronto.
Thats all for now.