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One more week, for Amber

We had a lot of interruptions and the next barrel of syrup did not get bottled yet. First I messed up, when I finished bottling the previous batch of dark syrup, I forgot to drain the water heater, by the time I realized I tried to open the drain valve but it was frozen (we use a tankless water heater and it needs to be drained after use, it wasn’t). I immediately knew it was a fatal mistake and I ordered a new one, I had the same mistake about 5-6 years ago. The good part is, with all of the inflation in the past 2-3 years, the replacement heater was actually just over half what the previous one cost. The one we use is a 3.2gpm propane heater, the previous one cost $232.00, the new one was $108+ tax, making it $116.64 delivered. It is the exact same model. I have all but 1 fitting reconnected, for that I needed 1 more hand. Thus I have my 14 yr old grandson scheduled to help connect it tomorrow afternoon. It’s well below freezing now but is predicted to get above freezing mid morning tomorrow. Once we hook it up I’ll be ready to wash the equipment Monday, heat the barrel of syrup enough that it will pump from the barrel into the finisher. From there I heat it to 175-180, pump it thru the filter press and into the bottler. Then I bring it up to 185 +/- 2 degrees F, verify the density and finally I can bottle the syrup. Once packed I need to label it, price it and finally I’ll haul some to my local retail store and some home. Once home I add the inventory into my counts in my online storefront so people can order some. This should all happen this next week and I’ll be fully back in business.

My online and local sales used to be roughly equal but this past year the local store enlarged their space, more than doubling the size in July 2021 and now enlarging about another 50% a month ago. I’ve been with this outlet since 2018, then they have now grown 4 times since. Each time they expand sales go up significantly. Last years sales for just December exceeded my first years year total….by 3 times.

Once I get all of this done, I’ll be adding more bourbon barrel aged syrup. I currently have about 12 gal ready to bottle, and another batch aging for late November or early December, 30 gal ready to bottle. I expect that will last thru the following December and likely into summer 2026. I’ll be aging more to be ready about then.

One final thing, my wife and I finally decided it was time to sell the blueberry fields, we are getting too old to keep up with the work. That property has been sold, we signed the papers yesterday and the new owners will be signing in about 2 weeks From then on we can take more time on maple and not have the blueberries calling us for attention. We planted them back in 1981-86 and even added more in 2023 (a new variety) Maybe then I can even get the addition I’ve planned on my shop, half for tractor storage and the rest for a blacksmith shop. Tentatively the addition will be 14×32 feet. I also want to build a storage shed to replace one that collapsed in 2022 from snow load.

The new owners on the blueberries plan to keep the blueberries and maybe grow some other things too. For those of you who are local to us, we will turn over operation to the blueberry web site and I’d guess they will in time introduce them selves to the area. “The Oneida Blueberry Patch”

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