Over the next few days I will be bottling more dark syrup. I have surgery scheduled for a week from tomorrow, which will likely put me out of commission for 5-8 weeks depending on how it goes. In order to attempt to have enough dark syrup I’ll be opening my last 40 gal stainless steel barrel full of dark maple syrup (I do still have 3 more 26.5 gal barrels full of dark and 1 40 gal barrel of amber), and then processing it into retail jugs. I used to bottle a full 40 gal barrel worth of syrup in about a day and a half, but I was younger then and had no health issues slowing me down. I’ll start tomorrow by washing the equipment again with hot potable water. Then I’ll pump the 40 gal into my finisher pan (a 2′ x 6′ propane heated pan). Next I’ll heat it to 180-190F, pump it through the filter press and into the electric water jacketed bottler (WJ) and verify grade (color) and density. Next I’ll turn on the WJ and the syrup will automatically be heated to 185F +/- 1 degree at which point it’s ready to start filling retail jugs. Because the WJ only holds 16 gal max, I have to refill it 3x to empty the finisher pan. These will likely take me 3 or more days. Hopefully this will be enough syrup to hold me through the Christmas season (along with what I have bottled already plus all of the amber I have ready, because if I run out, I may not be able to pack more at that time if my surgery recovery takes too long. I’ll need to follow my doctor’s orders. My wife or one of my daughters can restock my local retail outlet and they can also fill orders for my online sales, but I would not even ask them to pump another barrel and pack it into retail jugs. That will need to wait until I’m again physically able to help if not do it all by myself.