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.
Hello Out there, what do you think of the new website? Mike and I have been having too much fun boiling away on the old flat pan which we have happily renamed Burns. We also have a new member of the family, a 4′ x 17.5″ Laparier / Waterloo / Smalls evaporator which we call Chuck.
We picked it up off of another producer on the island who used it for one season and then sold it to buy a bigger one.
We have decided to run the two evaporators in tandem, concentrating the sap with Burns and than feeding it to Chuck so that he can spit out that sweet nectar of the gods. Not sure if this is going to work but we are going to try it anyway.
We have been taking a few videos here and there but it is very time consuming posting videos. We have satellite high speed here at the camp but it is not the same as DSL or Cable. Defiantly better then that Devil dial-up.
So mostly we are taking pictures for now to keep everyone updated.
We stated boiling on March 12th on Burns and we still have not pulled off a batch of syrup. There is still some maintenance we have to do in order to get it running at peak efficiency but the important thing is that we are removing water from sap.
We also finished up our sugar kitchen with RUNNING WATER, I am very exited. It is nothing special, just a bucket in the rafters, but it does let us wash things a lot better which makes things move a lot smoother.
We have been trying to get Chuck operational, last night Mike cleaned the flu pans and set everything up in place. We completed the money knob bypass which we used to pump concentrated directly into Chuck!
That’s all to report for now. Things are moving forward and it won’t be long now before we pull off batch #1 for 2011.
Do you wonder why maple syrup is so expensive? Well the reason that it’s so expensive is because a great deal of energy goes into making it. Below is a video that shows exactly how much wood it takes when you fire boiler. We fire one side of the boiler at the time this way there’s minimal heat loss.
we put about that much wood in the archway every 15-20 minutes, that means that we are firing the boiler every 7-10 minutes. This is of course depending on the different types of what and how dry it is. This year was a bit of a disaster as we ran out of wood and had to spend some of the time burning some not so dry popular.
Mike stumbled across a great website called http://www.woodheat.org This website is full of information in regards to firewood. My favorite part of the website is the energy per air dried cord or in thousands of BTUs. This gives a list of the most efficient types of firewood to use.
I thought that the best wood to use was iron wood, I might have the wrong name for it though. As I can’t find it anywhere in Ontariotrees.com. it’s very dense wood that doesn’t grow very large, it has kind of a flaky bark as he gets older. Maybe somebody can help me. The bark looks a bit like Black Ash when it’s older, but I don’t think that’s right.
So I did not get a chance to post anything last night because of how busy we have been. This of course is a sign that we are making syrup.
It has been a pretty good year so far, we are boiling every day. The funny thing is we keep making light syrup. I think we had one batch of medium and the rest has been light and extra light. This could mean that we are in for a very long season. The trees do what they want I guess.
Yesterday we tapped in 108 trees, this brings the grand total up to 1753, pretty close to a full bush for Bill. At the end of the day I went over to Bill and Ann’s for a barBQ, it was amazing.
We had a lot of help today from a few people that came into the bush. Most of the day, like every other day was spend splitting firewood and boiling, all day. Some good new is that the quad is fixed, turns out it was the combination of a weak battery and bad gas, thank you Esquire Honda for helping me out.
Today was one of those days you just love what is happening outside. It was really warm during the day and started to freeze when it got dark. We had a great run and were making maple syrup all day. I also had a chance to take some really cool night shots of the sugar bush. The full moon was amazing and lit up everything.
I am going to keep this post brief as I have to get to bed and start the whole thing over tomorrow morning bight and early. Seeing the Island a buzz in maple syrup time makes me want to get my own sugarbush someday. I am going to have to crunch some numbers and see if it is possible. It would be nice to be able to live for a whole year off nothing but maple syrup.
OK so I have not posted in a couple of days and that is because we have been busy, (Steve I got your message). The truth is that It takes forever to do anything on dial up and I have been getting in so late that I can’t think so spending another 1h playing with dial up is not going to work. But I am posting now!
first of all here is the video that I shot of Bill cutting the huge block of wood.
and now here is what has been happening over the past few days:
The day after my last post, April 4th we were out at the sugar bush until about 10:00 p.m.. We tied in a spur line and tapped about 80 more trees. Steph and Mike came by the sugar shack at about 7:00 p.m. and stayed until the sap ran out. They were very welcome as they brought beer, like I said they are very good friends. I also met a great guy named Cody who helped to fire the boiler and watched the temperature gauge. Than after syrup was done we went out to Mike’s hunting camp and stayed up way to late. I wanted to be in the bush that day but no dice.
Since most of the people in the camp did not get up until about 3:00 p.m. I thought that there was no point in going into the bush that day. We had a lot of fun anyway playing with Mike bombardier trail groomer. We also did some very useless building of dams in his creek and played with the deer in his yard. All this while the largest run yet this season took over Bill and the sugar bush. Thank goodness we had the emergency tank to fill otherwise Bill would have lost even more sap than he did.
Mike gave me a ride out to the Bill’s sugar bush at about 10:30 a.m.. Mike has worked in a number of sugar bushes so we went to see one of the larger operations on the island, Thompson’s sugar bush. This is a truly a first class set up! The boiler they use is out of an old steam ship. The whole bush is put together in a double line system and he has two beautiful R.O. machines. There are all sorts of really cool little curiosities in his operation enough to write a whole post on.
We stayed out at the bush until about 1:00 am trying to get rid of all the sap that had accumulated from the day before. Once again the big problem was fire wood, we just did not have enough! We ended up burning some green stuff at the beginning of the day to see how it would go, it was bad. We were basically splining wood and throwing it directly in to the fire, never really getting ahead. It is very disheartening to be splitting wood for 8h straight and not even having pile to show for it.
Towards the end of the night we decided to clean up the yard a bit and through the wood-splitter chips into to coals near the end of the boil. This worked better than expected as it kept the fire going longer than we anticipated and we were running low on sap. In the end the problem was the not the amount of sap but rather the flow, as it was getting pretty late at this point the lines from the holding tank to the boiler froze, which stopped the flow of sap.
Luckily we were able to kill the rest of the fire and threw a couple of buckets of cold water in the boiler for good measure. We were both very very tired and trying to finish up all the little chores that had to be done before we left. Just than it happened.
The brand new 4 wheeler that only had 14 km on it would not start. This thing was less then 3 months old and we had been babying ever since it arrived in the bush. We just pushed it out of sight, locked up the camp and went home.
Day 6 – Today
Well since it was a really late night last night we got started a little later today. Everything was frozen and the sap is not running so it was a good day to finish up some chores. Bill had to go into the Sault today which gave us an opportunity get the bring the quad back to the dealership. That machine has been a god sent for us and has already shown it worth in the few days that we have used it. I am no very pleased that it BROKE before it even hit 50km. I hope Esquire Honda treats us right, I though you bought new stuff so that this would not happen?
So Bill got some of the syrup ready to drop off in the Sault, I cleaned up the Archway and the large holding tank and we tried all the trouble shooting we could to get the quad fixed. We still had a very big problem, fire wood! We ended up going out to the bush and cutting down a nice piece of dead standing. Bill fell the tree perfectly, though he almost cut the wrong one down which was already tapped in (that would have been a mess). We got just over a cored of fire wood which might last us a few hours but every little bit helps.
Now Bill is suppose to be in the Sault at about 3:00 to meet up with his girlfriend but of course we get stuck in the bush with the load of wood on it. When we finally get out it is about 2:20 p.m., not enough time to make it the 55 km to the Sault from the sugar bush. We loaded up the the quad as fast as we could, grabbed the syrup that he had to sell and headed out of the bush at top speed. Needless to say I forgot a few items in the bush mainly the video camera and my jacket so there is no way to get back until tomorrow.
So that is what has been happening over the past few days, thing are more reactionary rather than preparation. The good new is we are making syrup and I think that is all that really matters.