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Going in for surgery


I have major surgery tomorrow. Any orders placed from now until a couple of days after I get home, will not be shipped until about the 3rd day. I may be in the hospital for 3-7 days, thus orders may be unprocessed until about April1-4 depending on when I get back home. At that, I will be on a no lifting order for 6-8 weeks, but I can coach my wife to get the orders ready and to ship them.

Thank you for your patience in this matter.

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Is Stripe working properly


I submitted the test results to Stripe, the credit/debit card processor for my online store. They never responded. If anyone has a problem using a credit or debit card to make a purchase, please send me an email to: dave@cnymaple.com I’m hoping it’s functioning properly again, but their lack of communication has me concerned. So, I ask anyone who makes a purchase using a crdit or debit card let me know at the email address if it worked or locked you out. I just can’t figure them out, when they first locked the service they were eager to notify me, and as I asked many questions they responded in a short time, but now I get nothing at all.

By the way, the results cleared me, I do not have enough alcohol in my bourbon barrel aged maple syrup to be an issue (0.67%) far below the point where a liquer license is needed.

Thanks for your help.

Dave

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Still working on Stripe


About 2 weeks ago, Stripe, my credit/debit card processor locked my account. I had to prove I was not selling alcohol without a license. To do that I had to send a sample of my bourbon barrel aged maple syrup for testing. I told Stripe what my process is, so the alcohol level would be extremely low, but they needed a test results. My first issue was that I spoke with another producer who also makes bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. It seems he paid a testing lab in Conn. to test his, at the price of slightly north of $400.00. I then contacted the New York State Maple Producer’s Association (NYSMPA) about the issue and was told the association owns a test machine and gave me the contact info for who to send a sample to. Last Wednesday I got a shipment ready to mail out for testing, but when I scheduled the package to be picked up, Thursday was a no go, big Fed. holiday, thus it went out Friday. I then sent a note to the producer who had paid the huge fee for the testing so if he ever needed a new test he’d save money since he’s also a NYSMPA member. The sample was received on Saturday and I got the results last evening. My sample had 0.67% alcohol. That’s far lower than the threshold for needing a license to sell alcohol. I then sent the results to Stripe. Hopefully my credit card processing will be turned back on very soon. The best part is that rather than paying over $400. it only cost $20 ( for replacement of a membrane in the test machine when needed)

If you try to buy some syrup or bourbon barrel aged maple syrup in my online store and the credit/debit card says it’s locked, just wait a day and try again. I have no idea how fast they will turn it back on, when they suddenly decided it had to be turned off it was instant.

In the mean time, have a greaqt day.

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Heat wave here soon


As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t do well in temperatures over about 70F, maybe 75F if the humidity is low. This week the forecast for us is several days in the mid to high 90’s and maybe even a 100 is possible with high humidity. With this I will definately not be packing any syrup. If this becomes the norm for us, I may need to get an AC for the sugarhouse. The big issue for that is that the sugarhouse is far from air tight, it is designed to ventilate well, for when I have a roaring fire going in the evaporator. If I were to tighten the ventilation, the sugarhouse would get too hot during the boiling sessions. I guess, I’ll just work early mornings and then do some work in the cellar once the heat climbs to very uncomfortable.

When I say it’s well ventilated, I mean extremely well ventilated. First, the cupola on the roof, even when closed (when boiling it has a wide flip down door on the east and west sides) it has 2″ vents on each corner as well as a 2″ space between each rafter on the cupola. Then the roof, it is 1″ rough cut boards spaced every 12″ but the boards are 6″ and 8″ wide alternating. Thus 1″ spaces before the next board. Then the roof, the trusses are 16″ on center (except where the smoke stack goes up which is a 30″ space) with a 2″ space between each, and only about 2/3 of the board and batton siding (vertical boards with 3″ wide batton covering the seams) has batton on the seams. The boards were put up fresh off the sawmill, and shrunk in width to leave a space of 1/4-3/8″ between each board. That helps with the ventilation. The only part of the sugarhouse that is heated is a small room (about 5.5′ long be 36″ wide) where to reverse osmosis (RO) machine is kept, that room has a propane wall furnace in it to prevent freezing of the RO. The entire rest of the sugarhouse is specifically designed to ventilate and when boiling it does that quite well. Even then, if I’m boiling on a day when the temperatures outside reach into the 60’s I need to open the doors for better ventilation. Keep in mind that when I’m boiling I have so far always burned wood, and to keep the boil going fast I add a full arm load of wood every 7-9 minutes. It was every 7 minutes before I added high pressure air under and over the fire, that made the burn so much more efficient that i was able to change to every 9 minutes. Either way, that’s still a lot of fire. In addition, my last evaporator was 3 feet wide and 8 feet long all with rapidly boiling sap to syrup in it, thus loads of super hot surface to radiate the heat, plus it had a 3 foot wide by 8 foot long steam hood over it which then channeled the steam up and out thru 2 steam stacks each 15 inches in diameter. That was a lot more super hot surface to warm the sugarhouse. I say, my old evaporator, because I sold that one as I lost my helpers and I will now be boiling using a 2′ x 6′ evaporator, with a full hood. Where I used to boil for up to 1320 taps of my own plus I processed sap from 4 other producers, so on the busiest days I was boiling off from up to about 2500 taps. I will now only be boiling my own sap and I’ll have from 200 to maybe a maximum of 500-550 taps, all from my woods around my sugarhouse (plus a few from my neighbor, if I get to over 425 taps. This new evaporator is smaller , the smoke stack is smaller as is the one steam stack, thus I’ll have fewer square feet of hot stainless steel to radiate the heat. While my plan for the new evaporator is to switch to oil, that may not happen until after next season.

Oil fired,

The advantage of oil is not only to not need to handle the firewood (both while boiling and in preperation for the season to have enough wrist sized split wood fully dried, but the boil itself is better. With wood, if I add new wood every 7 minutes (the new evaporator will not have high pressure air under and over the fire, because when it’s switched to oil there’s no advantage for it) the wood has a super fast boil for maybe 2/3 of each cycle, and it tapers off the rest of the time. As the boil first starts to slow, I open the door to add wood, with the door open, the boil either stops or slows considerably, I add a full arm load of wood and close the door, then it takes maybe 60-90 seconds to get back to a full rapid boil. With oil the fire is always perfect, thus the boil never changes. Another factor is that with wood I need to watch closely as my sap is running low, on my previous evaporator I had a gauge line on a sight tube indicating how much was left in the tank feeding the evaporator, as it got to the line (18 gallonsw left) I added no more wood. But then as the boil slowed I still had to wait until the super hot coals burned down. That took at least an hour and up to an hour and a half. With oil, as I run completely out of sap (or more precisely concentrate, because the sap was concentrated using the RO) I can just flip a switchm the boil stops instantly, cover all openings ( I make SS covers for every opening on the evaporator, the syrup pan, 3 float boxes and the hood covers the rest of the pans.) Then I shut off the lights, lock the doors and leave. When I boil using wood that has to wait until all of the coals have burned out or a hot spot could cause some burnt syrup, which is a huge problem to say the least.

Other things

We have sold our 4.5 acres of blueberries, which took up loads of time, pruning (and I never kept that like it should have been), mowing the aisles as well as the open fields. In my spare time I’m getting ready to saw some lumber (I have a basic manual bandsaw mill) to build an addition on the side of my shop. The shop is now 14×28′ and I want to add a 14×32′ addition. The extra 4 feet in length will be for an hallway into the addition. Then in the addition I’ve wanted to dabble in blacksmithing for several years. Back about 6-8 yrs ago I bought a 165# anvil, a coal forge, a hand crank blower several tools and a bunch of blacksmith coal as well as several bags of lump charcoal to fire the forge. Roughly the back half of this addition will be a blacksmith shop, the front half will be just enough to park my tractor in to park it under coverr and build some storage shelves on one side. In preparation for the sawmilling and necessary logging (I’ll cut down several hemlock trees on my property for the lumber) I had to reserrect my excavator. It quit running about a year ago. I’m not a mechanic, but my brother in law worked on it for several hours and then said he was giving up. He’s an excellent mechanic, but the issue is the starter. He had to lay on top of the hood, after removing an access cover of about 10×10″ and then reach down the full length of his reach to try to figure what the problem is. He was working blind because he could get 1 hand on it, he could not see what he was doing. Yesterday I decided I need the excavator, (it has a hydraulic thumb) both for the logging and for loading the logs on the sawmill. So I started removing everything necessary so I could remove the whole hood on the excavator. I removed a front guard rail, a few attachments that control the thumb, removed the seat, removed the instrument panel, labeled many of the wires connected to the back of the panel, labeled the hoses that operate the thumb because they will need to be removed, and I removed some of the bolts holding the roll bar and roof on the excavator. I still need to remove all remaining bolts and lift the roll bar/roof assembly using my tractor with pallet forks and set it out of the way, to be reinstalled after the excavator is operational again. Then I need to unhook those hydraulic hoses that I labeled, remove the rest of the hood mounting bolts , unhook any under hood parts mounted to the underside of the hood and finmally lift the heavy steel hood off (it’s all made of 3/16″ and 1/8″ thick steel, the forks on the tractor will lift that. Then my brother in law can get to the starter. This is a 1989 8000lb class Mitsubishi excavator. If the starter needs to be replaced I think I’ve located a starter for it, at $1295.00. Or I could buy an aftermarket one for $300 less, but on one of my tractors a few years ago, I did that and just 2 months later it failed, but fortunately my brother in law was able to swap parts from the after market starter to fix the original starter on the 1981 tractor. As for other parts for the excavator they seem to be non existant. I’ve never found any dealer even on the web for this size Mitsubishi excavator, as I understand it Caterpillar carries parts for 12,000 lb and up but not for 8000 lb ones. If I can’t get the excavator operational, I may need to get a grapple for the tractor. But that would run at least $3000, about $2000 for a basic grapple and $1000 to add additional hydraulics to the tractor. We’ll see, I’m hoping for a miracle.

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Issues with Stripe, a credit card service


I recently got shut down by Stripe, a credit card processor. I think they did it because of the bourbon barrel aged maple syrup I sell. They do not allow alcohol sales. This has little or no alcohol as is all of my bourbon barrel aged syrup. It gets heated to over 180F and let stand 2 or more times for 16-24 hrs each time to get rid of any possible alcohol. It has a perfect blend of maple and bourbon flavor without the alcohol! The extended times I let it set boil off any alcohol that might be in the syrup when I remove it from the bourbon barrel will evaporate off any alcohol, especially the final heating. On the first heating it’s just heated to 190F or higher and let set for at least 16 hrs as it cools. The final heating is i a non pressurized water jacketed bottler where a thermostat holds the syrup for at least 24 hrs at 186+/- 2 degrees F, then it’s bottled. Those heat cycles and times should evaporate any alcohol that might have been in the syrup in the syrup when removed from the bourbon barrel. Each such barrel is further drained before it’s filled with hot syrup to be certain no liquid bourbon is left in it, then while the syrup ages, 6-10 months depending on the size of the bourbon barrel (the larger the barrel the longer it tanks because the inside barrel surface area is less per gallon on a 30 gal barrel than on a 15 gal barrel for example). Right now, I’m aging a 30 gal barrel, my previous barrel was a 20 gal and before that I got a 15 gal barrel. Over the years the size I use to age seems to get larger, even though I prefer 15 gal barrelsw, too few 15’s seem to be available, much more often 30’s are used at least by the distillery I buy from, a somewhat local distillery. But they keep growing too, I may need to agen even larger batches in the future just because the local distillery starts doing larger sizes. They used to do 10 , 15 and 20 gal, now most is 30 gal batches.

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Bottling finished, for now


I finished packing the next barrel of dark syrup, I have it listed in the storefront. Those interested can order when you want more syrup. Please note, I don’t put all of what I packed in the store counts, just what I’ve set aside for online orders. The rest is either put into my local retail outlet (The Eclectic Chic, in Glenwood Plaza, in Oneida, NY 13421) or it’s stocked at the sugarhouse to restock either of those two outlets. As needed, I either add to the store inventory or I restock at The Eclectic Chic as the amounts sell down. Lately, by far my largest number of sales are at The Chic, but the online sales still show a good number of sales.

Thank you for your patronage.