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doing some sawing

Last fall, I had to remove a few trees in preparation to having my new shop delivered. I had 2 very large trees with rot at the trunk. In order to cut them down I had to cut some hemlocks to make room for the big ones to fall. Those hemlocks will now be sawed into lumber on my sawmill and be used to build a storage loft in the shop, and an equipment shed on one side of the shop. Sawing will begin this week. It may take me a day or so just to open up the debris to make way for the logs to be pulled out, then a day or 2 to cut the lumber.

One of the big trees I had to cut was a sugar maple, the first log off that has been bucked and split for firewood for next year. After the loft is built I will try the next log from that tree to see if it is firewood or if it is good enough to saw into lumber. The other big tree was a black cherry. I still have that laying where it landed. I know the bottom 14′ maybe more is only good for firewood, but above that I might get a log or 2 for lumber before I get to the upper part which will be firewood only.

I also have a friend coming Tuesday (another maple producer) to visit. That will be enjoyable. They are also bringing a 16 gal SS barrel they no longer need. I like those smaller ones so I don’t need to bottle a full 26.5 gal of syrup in one grade all at once and a partial barrel can not be stored more than a few days until I build a walk in cooler (hopefully planned for 2019).

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Bourbon barrel aged maple syrup

I am doing very well with the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. Doing so many multiple sales that I added another larger size. Originally I only offered a 200 ml bottle (6.76 fl oz.) but I now have added a 375 ml (12.7 fl oz) at a per oz price savings over the smaller bottle.

I forgot to post when the Eclectic Chic opened, it did in fact open on July 1 and my first month sales in the new location was greater than the first 6 months of this year in the old location combined. In fact since selling thru them since April of 2017 I only had a larger 1 month total last December as Christmas orders soared.

Now for the upcoming fall/Christmas season I may need to restock 2x each week, as it is I filled the shelves once a week since July 1. In the old location I only need to add stock during the month at the Christmas rush, otherwise it was every 4-6 weeks.

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It’s almost time

Next week we will be packing the next batch of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. The barrel being opened was hot packed on Dec. 21, 2017. That will be six months plus a week for the aging process.

While it got done late because of my health delays, the tubing has now been cleaned. It will be ready to go next season.

There is still loads of work to do before the 2019 season. Plans are to redesign the collection system at my leased woods. There I now have a vacuum tank (the full vacuum is put on the tank and that in turn pulls the sap to it) which is only safe to run a this vacuum tank at 20″ of vacuum, thus I use a control which holds it at 19″. If too much vacuum were put on the tank, the 1000 gal stainless tank could implode and render the tank useless and only good for scrap metal. The plan for next year is to add a piece of equipment called a releaser, releasers are good to full vacuum, or just under 30″. That releaser has 2 chambers, when one chamber fills up, the vacuum is switched to the second chamber and the first chamber dumps it’s sap into the storage tank. In order to do that I’ll need to fabricate a stand to hold the releaser a little above the top of the 1000 gal tank (it is almost 5’6″ in diameter) and put a collection tank under the releaser to catch the sap as it is dumped and then pipe it into the 1000 gal tank. By making those changes the pump I have will be able to give me 24-25″ of vacuum, and in time I could get a better pump and run at 27-28″ of vacuum. The main fact about vacuum on maple collection systems is that every inch of vacuum yields 5-7% more sap, without hurting the tree, and it is like compound interest, in that every added inch of vacuum gives that % above what is gotten at the 1″ less vacuum level. By going from 19″ to 24″ I could get from 27.6% more sap at the 5% rate and up to 40% more sap if I got the 7% /inch gain. My hope will be for 30% more, all off the same number of taps. Then additionally I plan to add up to 75 more taps, going from 675 up to about 750 at the lease. Around the sugarhouse I have 225 taps this year and plans are to add about 60-70 more there too. At those numbers both will be near or at maximum potential. Then the lease could support a better vacuum pump for another gain of 3-4″ more vacuum.

While I a few years ago had 1320 taps, that was on 2 leases but no taps around the sugarhouse. I since decided to sell one lease and just max out one lease while also putting vacuum on at the sugarhouse. Back before I got the second lease back in 2011, I had tapped around the sugarhouse, but since I had no vacuum pump there the sap had to run smaller gravity tubing systems and drive the tractor around to 7 collection tanks, pump the sap into a tank I carried on the back of the tractor and then haul it to the sugarhouse and pump it into the sap tanks there. Now, using vacuum, the sap all flows directly to one of two sap tanks at the sugarhouse. The pump I now have at the sugarhouse gives me 24-25″ of vacuum and even it I were to get up to 300 taps there the gain for a better pump would not justify the cost of such a pump, not enough tap potential.

I also need to saw some logs into lumber to build a loft in the shop. A few other things to build too, will discuss them later.

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I’m finally back

I have now been given Dr’s permission to start working, but I need to sit down every 60-90 minutes with my feet up for 30 minutes. That’s the best I get right now, I’ll take it.

First I need to finally pull my taps, they should have been pulled 6 weeks ago. Then I need to final clean the Reverse Osmosis (RO) and put it to bed until just before the 2019 season. Then I’m running low on some syrups, I will check inventories and pack more from my SS barrels I have filled. Next comes some sawing, I have a new storage shed, 14′ x 28′ which I am using for both storage and a work shop. Lots to do on that. I think my first task is to saw some lumber and build a loft, over the back half, since I park my tractor in the front half, where I can store lots of lighter items. I will saw up some hemlock logs I cut last fall for that. I think next I’ll run power from the sugarhouse to the shop. I bought the wire last fall but the ground froze before I got the trench dug, wire put in conduit and buried, I am putting a 100¬† amp service in the shop. Eventually I will build a walk in cooler addition on the east side of the shop and a blacksmith shop built on the north with an equipment lean-to roof added to the west side for storing some of my tractor equipment out of the elements. All of these will be built out of my hemlock except the pressure treated posts I’ll need. That will be a lot of sawmill time for a guy who needs to set down every 60-90 minutes and put my feet up for 30 minutes. I’m not used to even taking a break except to have some ice water or lunch or supper.

I did get one break, my daughter and her husband have taken over the blueberry operation for 1 year, then they will decide if they want to buy it.

Then as I get time I’ll need to check the woods for needed repairs to tubing and add more taps. I want to add about 50-75 more at the sugarhouse which will get that to about 300 taps. My leased woods I also want to add about 100 more which should get that to about 650-700 taps giving me about 950, maybe 1000 taps. That may be the biggest I’ll ever get from here on. At one time back when I had 3 college kids working for me I had 1320 taps on 2 leases but nothing around the sugarhouse because I didn’t have vacuum there at that time and the 2 leases kept us busy. After that I sold one lease to an Amish man just up the road from one lease and I cut back to one lease, that’s when I got vacuum set up at the sugarhouse and I first tapped just 175 taps on that, this year I added 50 more. In fact that Amish man is the one who built my new shop, he does a great job and the price is fair.

We have been doing well with the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and I think in 2-4 weeks the next batch will be ready to bottle, taste test coming soon to determine that. I ordered the bottles this morning for that. Bottle cost only went up $.04/each since last August, could have been worse I guess. For now, the bourbon barrel aged syrup will remain at $12.00 a bottle for 6.76 fl oz. After that next batch I’ll need to order more labels. I will likely place a bigger order for a better price after seeing how well the BB syrup sells. I just need to make sure I don’t order so many that the label adhesive is still good when I bottle, it has a shelf life of just 2 years.

At this time my only retail outlet locally is a place called The Eclectic Chic. It is currently on a hill which is somewhat hard to get up in snowy weather. They are moving to a much better location with no hill and a one story building rather than two, plus it will have about double the space. The current location did quite well for me selling my syrup, this should do lots better. The new location will be at 21 Seneca Ave, Oneida Castle 13421 (the former Kime True Value). It is scheduled to open July 1, 2018, but that is subject to revision, originally was for June 1 but the carpenters fell behind on changes being made. For those interested I’ll try to post when the date becomes official.

I guess that’s it for now, more to follow soon.