Setting up The Bush

Dave is home and we are working hard to dig out from what Old Man Winter has left us with. We put our road crossings in and brought the lines back to a 4% rise away from the Sugar Shack to maximize the vacuum efficiency.

Next step: tapping the bush.

Digging Out Main Lines

Digging Out Main Lines

We have so much snow; the main lines were completely covered in some areas.

Finding a Buried Tap Line

Finding a Buried Tap Line

Some of our tap lines were buried deep.

Keeping The Grade at 4%

Keeping The Grade at 4%

Setting Up Lines

Fallen Team Player

We lost a team player, which fell on Main Line #6. At least it’ll make good firewood.

Is it Running Yet…

Any Sap Yet?

Any Sap Yet?

Still no Sap… So Firewood…

Stay Tuned Season #5 is coming Eventually…

Cider time Part III – Well it all worked out

Hey out there, I am happy to say that our little experiment with making hard apple cider was a success. I have a bit of a headache this morning to prove it.

Well I did manage to get the last video put together for cider time. Please enjoy and let us know what you think.

It has been quite the last few weeks up here in Alberta, It has been very very cold I have never worked in -43 before and now I know what it is like. Today we have been called off of work because of the cold and that is why I have had the time to work on this.

Christmas is coming and what better way to show someone that you love them then with a gift sized bottle of the best maple syrup around.


she is all froze up

Well We were having a great run there for a little while, the last weekend was amazing lots of sun and heat and trees producing sap. It was one of those days that you live for in the spring where the harsh winter is looking like it is gone for another year and you are heading directly for patio weather.

Well the weather can change quickly and it has the last 3 days have been nothing but cold at night and cold during the day. Everything is frozen from our tanks to our lines. Nothing is moving for now so it is time to do a bit of cleaning and organizing to get ready for the next run because no matter how cold it gets it will always get sunning and hot again!

Cheers for now

right on

winter time

No end in sight

Well it has been a pretty slow year and a very slow start. It has been nothing but cold and snowy for the last two weeks since I arrived. I tell you this is one of the frustrating things about Maple Syrup production. I guess that is the thing, you can never rush it. Nature does not work with your timeline or schedule it does what it wants to and you just have to deal with it.

We are ready for production that is for sure, we have a new bottles ready to be filled up and we have started on next years firewood. I have not been feeling well in the last few days so I am fighting that little annoyance. We have been working on the far end of the property where there are a ton of beach trees that have to come down to make way for our little maple trees.

So far it looks pretty good for this weekend and we have collected a little bit of sap. Hopefully we will get our first batch soon. Stay tooned!

Snowed in

Well we are all tapped in, Mike, Cyborg Johnny and Pat were all their to help put in the last taps. It was a lot of work moving around in the bush right now because there is so much snow.

It is definitely snow shoe weather for the next little while. I have yet to figure out another profession where it is vital to know how to use snow shoes. So now we have to wait and see what is going to happen. The snow is going to melt eventually but for now it is still below freezing. It is all a matter of prep work now, making sure that all of our ducks are in a row before the craziness starts.

2013 is on it’s way!

Snow time

Weather Time

So it is February and this is the time of year that I get pretty excited. There is no real way to predict what type of weather is coming but that still does not stop me from seeking out every bit of weather info that I can find.

So here are a few links that might interest you.

shields weather
time and Date
environment Canada
The weather network

We are willing to take bets on when it will start up!

Still Going

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!

And it Snowed

Well It looks like winter is back in style. That style being almost a foot of snow. I am wondering why that did not happen in, you know, January. Oh well you got to roll with it.

We are still puttering with a few things around the bush, we definitely need to get the little sugarshack fixed up so that it is not a steam bath. I also built a make shift bridge for our quads to go over the main lines. It is quite the maze to figure out, if we can cross the line in that one little spot then we don’t have to drive in the complete opposite direction.

We were able to collect a tiny bit of sap over the last few days but really nothing to write home about (but I guess something to write in the blog). We have not really been doing a whole lot in the last little while, just waiting for everything to start.

Mike has set up his drums in the living room and we have been jamming the last few nights, it has been a blast. Brianna is really grooving the Mandolin and she only picked it up a few days ago.

So that is the deal we are waiting for the sap to run and avoiding tree branches.

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.

Winter is back?

Winter is back

It looks like the season is coming to a close for us this year. We have run out of firewood and are not able keep making maple syrup this year. We went though almost 30 cord of wood this year which is all the dry firewood we have.

We were able to get 11 batches so far and we are going to finish up batch 12 as soon as possible. We still have about 2 cords of wood left so we might try and get a 13th batch out, we will see how it goes.

The weather in over the last little while has been bad to say the least. There were a few days this spring that felt just like summer and now it feels like a dreary fall day. That is one of my favorite things about being in the bush during spring, you get to see all the changes in the season first hand, without the insects.

The New Bloor Street Festival – 2010

I had a great time at The New Bloor Street Festival this year. It being the first year I did not really know what to expect. I wanted to get a place right on the corner of Russet and Bloor right above Hair Wave where our old apartment was.

It was great to talk to some of the people in the neighborhood. When I was living up north I didn’t know that there was a community in Toronto, I always thought that people kept to themselves and were distant to each other. Dominic at Hair Wave was, I think, the first person to teach me how vibrant and friendly Toronto can be. It was sad to hear that he would be closing his doors only one week after the festival was finished, after being there for 31 years.

The New Bloor Street Festival was put on by two great chaps Dougal Bichan and Sid Bruyn. I watched them running back and forth all day long organizing every little detail. There were also lots of great volunteers helping out. They did an amazing job and I can’t wait until next year. I wonder if they will still call it “New”?

We also had a chance to chat with some amazing people at the Starving Artist Waffle Booth. If there is one thing on the planet that goes perfect with maple syrup, it is waffles. We provided them with some of our very special Dark Syrup and it seemed to be a real hit.

There were ton’s of interesting people stopping in to say hello. One of them was a member of the Toronto Beekeepers Co-op of Toronto. They told me about a really cool plan to tap the trees in the parks of down town. Dufferin Grove park, right near my apartment, has about 20 or so really nice sized Sugar Maples most of them double or triple tappers. I think it is an amazing idea! The more sweat nectar of the gods we can get the better. This year they were able to tap silver maples and red maples but the city would not let them tap any of the sugar maples. Kind of makes you scratch you head but……. there you go.

All in all it was a great time and it gave me a chance to talk Maple Syrup with everyone who wondered by.

Gearing up for the end

First of all let me apologize for not posting anything sooner. Our first year was so busy I barely had time to blink.

This was an old post that I wrote and just did not publish. I am putting together some videos of this season right now as things have slowed down a bit.

One thing that I can not believe is that it has totally snowed like crazy last night and the temperatures are back down to -5˚ or so. It was only a few days ago when it was like 20˚ out. Now it is winter again.

I thought I would put up this old post because it seems to be fitting again.

We were in short sleave shirts only two days ago and now.

Gearing up for the weekend

Well it looks like the year is coming to a close. Lots of people are saying that this is going to be the last really big weekend and than it’s are all over. It’s going to be great, I can’t wait to get up there.

Lot of stuff has to be done before than. I have to do a little bit a shopping to find some cleaning supplies and industrial storage containers for concentrate. I am also getting the computer system for the sugar-shack prepared which is going to be a feat on it’s own, of course we are going to get a mac.

I really wish that I had more time up north, I had panned on taking some time in late April but because of the early start this year it will probably not last past the April 12. Than again who knows what the trees are going to do.

I had a great idea last night about getting a giant snow making machine an blast the whole sugar bush with a nice blanket of snow to keep the season going. I am sure the trees would be really screwed up if I did something like that.

I’ll leave you with a great picture of Mike and I finishing our very first batch of maple syrup. Enjoy!

Gearing up

So I have my plane tickets booked and I am ready to head up north to do some sugaring. I must admit I am a bit apprehensive as it is getting rather late in the season. I am going to be heading up on April 1st  and staying until April 12th.

It looks like I am not going to be completely getting away from my work. There are a few things that I am going to have to take care of up while I am up there. The on thing that I am NOT looking forward to is Dial up internet.

I have not been able to get a hold of Bill yet, I am sure he is pulling some long hours getting ready for everything to hit. I have talked to a few people up north who say that the weather is still cold and that there is still 2 feet of snow. I really hope it stays like that, come on winter hang on.

This year I am going to be taking a lot more video and I have a new tripod to make it easier so look forward to some interesting videos.

only a few days left now.