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I had stated that I have a biopsy tomorrow, that has now been rescheduled. It seems my blood test was not right. After having a blood clot last summer I’ve been on a blood thinner. The Dr. to do the biopsy had me stop the blood thinner last Wednesday, but my blood work showed the blood thinner was still too much in my blood and that would create a problem to clot after the biopsy. It seems my biopsy is now going to be on 2/21.  This pushes back tapping even later.

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More tubing fixed

Worked at the woods around the sugarhouse, fixing tubing. While I got the main lines tensioned , leak checked a few days earlier, today I scouted out tubing leaks on the small tubing (lateral lines) (mostly squirrel chews) and fixed those lines too. Also, I took some rolls of tubing home to make up more drop lines. A drop line consists of a tap, about 32″ of tubing and a Tee. Then as I go around making final preparations for tapping I cut out about 1/3 of the old drops and install new. That way, each drop is disposed of on a 3 year rotation. The next time the weather is not good to work in the woods, I’ll stay home and assemble those drops. I have almost 300 minimum to make, but will likely make extra because I have 2 different diameters of lateral lines requiring drops to be different. All of the lateral lines on flatter ground are 5/16″ diameter and those on steeper ground are 3/16. This makes it necessary to have some drops with tee’s for 5/16″ line and some with tee’s for 3/16 lines. This is because on steeper ground the smaller diameter helps generate vacuum by gravity, while the larger does not. In 3/16 lines the sap and air in the line move towards the mainline without the sap passing the air and the sap fills the line so the weight of that sap creates vacuum, in the 5/16″ lines sap can and does slide under the air and thus does not have the ability to generate any vacuum by gravity. All of the mainlines have medium vacuum on them, but the lines that also make vacuum using gravity end up having more vacuum on those taps. Every inch of gravity adds on average 5-7% more sap, meaning we can make more syrup. We use tapping guidelines based on vacuum for the continued good health of the trees.

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Things have changed

In my previous post I told about my woes. It then changed. While the diverticulitis pain quit a new problem surfaced. When the ER was verifying the pain as diverticulitis by doing a CAT scan, when that was read, the Dr. saw a “lesion” on my left kidney.

I then had to go to a urologist who did a sonogram. He then read both the CAT scan and the sonogram and said with 80% certainty I have cancer on my left kidney. He said to get rest and wait for a biopsy to verify. That biopsy will be on 2/13/18. I’m hoping to be in the 20% rather than the 80% but not counting on it. If cancer is verified I’ll have robotic surgery and could lose anywhere from 20% to 100% of the left kidney. Then I don’t know how soon I’ll be able to return to work doing maple.

At this point my part time partner (my brother in law) is laid up because he had surgery and can’t return to work for 5-6 weeks.

While I never thought it would happen, I may have to work out a deal with an Amish maple producer (and friend) who is just 1-1.5 miles from my maple lease up in the hills. I will talk to him if the biopsy finds cancer. I’m thinking I might be able to get him to work that sugarbush on shares, where he’d do the work and I’d get a % of the syrup off my trees.

He only has about 4,000-5,000 taps and wants to get to 10,000 and he just bought a bigger reverse osmosis (RO) machine which removes a large % of the water from the sap before you start to boil. I could also take my RO to him so he’d have both for the season if needed.

Your prayers would be appreciated.



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Laid up

Today I had an unwanted day off. Yesterday at about 4-5 PM I started feeling a pressure in my side. It advanced rapidly and at 7:30 I was on my way to the ER. As suspected I had an episode of diverticulitis. I suspected it because I had it about 6-7 years ago and the pain was the same.

In the ER they sent me for a CAT scan which confirmed that was the problem. Then I was put on an antibiotic and a pain killer, then sent home. I was told to stay on a liquid diet until the pain was gone then to go with a low fiber diet. I was also told to stay home and get lots of rest.

It is now 24 hrs. later and most of the pain has gone, but not quite all. Will likely be confined to home one more day. Then on Thursday I have a Dr. appointment where I’ll be given further instructions.

I hope to be given the word that I can resume my maple work at that appointment. Even so, tomorrow I’ll start making the new drops I talked about in my previous post. Today I just rested as instructed. Making drops can be done sitting right at the kitchen table. I just cut a batch of 5/16 tubing at about 32-36″ in length, then I attach a tap (actually called a spile) on one  end and a Tee on the other end. I then them in Bundles of 25 and wrap them in tape just enough to hold them together. I’ll start with a hundred of two with 5/16 drops for 5/16″ lines and about 200 of 5/16 drops for 3/16 ” lines. The 5/16 lines are used in flatter areas and the 3/16 is used where there is more elevation change to gain the gravity generated vacuum I spoke of in that previous post.

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Sugarhouse woods, tubing is all ready

Today I finished repairs that were needed on the mainlines at the woods around the sugarhouse. Tomorrow and Sunday I’ll check all of the lateral lines and replace all taps (everything gets a new tap every year), about 1/3 get a new drop line. Then, when that woods is finished I’ll start doing repairs at the leased woods. Once that is finished, I’m adding a few more lines to the far north end of the hill, picking up maybe a hundred new taps. Those two things will require a few days at best.

After that I need to service the vacuum pump at the lease and clean the tank. Then I’ll begin tapping, which if the snow does not get deeper than it is might get done in 4-5 days, if we get a lot of snow, making it necessary to use snowshoes, the time needed roughly doubles, sometimes even triples, depending on the amount of snow, especially on the steepest parts of the hills.

But, at any rate, the new season is getting close.