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Happy New Year

We made it thru another year and steered clear of Covid 19, I hope you and yours did as well. According to my resident expert (my wife of 53+ years) everyone will end up with Covid 19, mostly this new Omicron variant. My wife is a retired RN and has studied Covid, not by listening to the MSM, but by listening to hundreds of hours of study results in peer reviewed studies by doctors and scientists from across the globe. Keep well all.

I still have Amber and Dark syrup but will likely run out of some sizes of Amber before the 2022 season starts here in central nys. That does not mean I sell more Amber, in fact I sell about 2x as much Dark as I do Amber every year. Last year, 2021 (crop) I got 2 barrels of Amber syrup and 5 barrels of Dark after filling my retail stock in both grades. I still have 1 barrel of dark when I need to pack more in retail jugs and bottles, but no more Amber, and I started at the beginning of last season with almost no Amber at all, right now I still have plenty of Amber in Qts and Half Gal, low on smaller sizes, in Dark I’m low on many sizes, but not low enough to open that last barrel and I just packed another barrel of Dark in mid December and the previous one was in early October, my last barrel of Amber was packed in early Sept.

Locally my sales were a record breaker for the year as well as most individual months, may this trend continue.

The new season around here can start as early as mid January or as late as the end of march. One year my first boil was March 29, another year first boil was Jan 18. It all depends on the weather. In order to get a first boil I need a minimum of 250 gal of fresh sap, if sap gets warm is spoils like milk would and is not good for making good syrup, it can however be made into commercial syrup (not legal to retail) which is often used to make dark maple sugar or other commercial uses.) I do still have a good supply of my bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and if any of my 3 sizes run low I have extra (6 gal) in bulk to fill more bottles. I may however run out before the next batch is ready. Lately all batches have been 15 gal barrels and a 15 gal barrel takes 9-10 months to get to the ideal flavor, thus that may be ready in Nov-Dec for next Christmas sales. I have also purchased bourbon barrel aged maple syrup in the original oak barrel from one friend locally who makes great tasting BB aged syrup but does little if any retail sales. His season often starts a little ahead of mine.

I’ll sign off for now but I’ll post when the season gets rolling again. Looking for cold nights, warm days, that makes the sap run.


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Coming soon

Likely next week I’ll be opening another oak bourbon barrel aged maple syrup after it aged to perfection and I’ll be putting it into bottles. One new size will be introduced. In 2017 I introduced the 200 ml flask (6.76 fl oz) bottle. It sold so well I added the 375 ml (12.7 fl oz) size a few months later. Now I’m adding a third size, just in time for gift giving. While lots of the first two sizes have been given as gifts, I wondered if a 100 ml size (3.38 fl oz.) might also be a winner, thus I ordered 25 dozen bottles in the new size (no going half way, besides I got a better price buying 25 dozen at a time). I’ll add the new size to my store once I’ve filled some of the bottles.

Since I first introduced “bourbon barrel aged maple syrup” back in Aug 2017 it has proven to be a winner. By the end of 2017 it had added up to 46% of my total sales, then 52% of sales in 2018 and 49% of sales in 2019. Then a pandemic hit the world and while the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup gained momentum in units sold, with so many people staying and working from home my sales of regular maple syrup gained more than the bourbon barrel aged gained. The sales of Bourbon barrel aged syrup then dropped to 41% of my total sales in 2020. 2021 sales won’t be determined until some time in Jan. but as I write this in late September it looks like the regular syrup totals vs the bourbon barrel sales may still reflect what 2020 ratios were. Both have gained again, but seem to be in balance with 2020 so far.

This new size may help that as even more people try the product, or gift them because the cost to try it is lower (per bottle, not per oz.) I see great results on the horizon! One thing I’ve gotten many comments on as people place an order on my website goes like this ” a friend/relative/ or other gave me a bottle of your bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and I now want to order some myself, what a great product!”) Christmas stockings may hang heavy with bottles of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup in them.

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On another front

I have other things I still do. I still have my 4.5 acres of blueberries (and I’m adding another 1/4 acre next spring, another variety). For that I’ve rototilled the whole plot 2x since August 10, and I’ll do it again next week. After the second time I spread 400 lbs of sulfur to acidify the soil. I still need to add some underground drainage tile and run that to a roadside ditch. Then I need to re-dig that ditch to drain the water to a pond about 600′ down the road, and 50′ off the road. That pond over flows as needed and runs to a year round creek another 1500′ away.

Another thing I do is saw logs into lumber (only for my own use). To that end, I recently sold a sawmill I’d had since 2004 which could cut logs up to 48″ diameter and up to 21′ long. I replaced it with a sawmill that can cut 30″ logs and up to 16′ 10″ long. The new sawmill arrived July 29, and I’ve been so busy I only got about 7-8 hrs into assembling it. The old mill sat on the ground, the new one is mounted (or will be mounted) on a trailer so I can move it as needed, besides my brother might also use it on occasion, or I might saw his logs for him. I think I’ll resume assembling it in 2 days. I expect it to be finished in about 4-5 more hours. I was getting help from my 12 yr old grandson, but he’s now back in school and has football after school. He says he will help on Saturdays (most but not all Saturdays I suspect).

The new mill is a manual bandsaw mill, but I have an old excavator with hydraulic thumb to load the logs and a tractor with pallet forks to move the lumber to where I’ll stack it to dry.

My plans include building a roof over the sawmill with a small tool shed adjacent to house all of the tools and supplies needed to work the sawmill, and to house my saw blade sharpener and tooth setter. Also a 14 or 16×32′ addition on the side of my shop, which will house my tractor and a blacksmith shop. I also plan to build a storage shed about 12×16′ for my 4×4 ATV and some smaller equipment.

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Gaining on it

I packed syrup the last 4 days. To do it I had to aim a 16″ fan at high speed at me to keep from over heating. I still have about 7.5 gal more to pack (out of 90), all filtered and in the water jacketed bottler. From there, once I turn the heating element back on and the temperature gets back up to 185 +/- 2 degrees F, I’ll resume bottling. For that I sit on a stool in front of the bottler. Depending which size jugs I’m filling I put the appropriate spacers under the shelf that holds the jugs, then I step on a foot switch which opens the flow valve. When the jugs is full, I release the foot switch, put a cap on and then I lay each jug on it’s side for at least 30 seconds. When I either done packing that size jugs or until the shelf is full, I carry the jugs over to my chest freezer. On that I apply my serialized company labels, add the appropriate grade label and add a price tag. Then I set the jugs to cool lined up along the back of the freezer (on top of it) . Then I set up to pack another size, same procedure and that gets repeated until the bottler is empty.

I have adjusted the inventory in the online store front, I’ll update again after the rest is packed. Since I sell both from my online store and 1 local retail store, the counts shown on the online store are only what is designated for online sales, the local retail counts do not show on the online store. However, those counts do get moved back and forth as necessary. For the online inventory I rarely show my whole inventory, because I don’t know if the inventory not shown will be sold online or at my local retail outlet. As that decision is made, the counts are adjusted. In other words, I often have more than the store counts show, (and on one occasion I had less than it showed, but I try not to make that mistake.)