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Back from my surgery

My surgery on 4/18/18 went well. I ended up losing about 30% of my left kidney from early indications. (I return to the surgeon on 5/2 for more info and a recheck). I got home from the hospital on Friday, late afternoon but I was still real sore. Saturday it got a little better and today it got a lot better. I still have a lot more improving to do, but today’s improvement was encouraging.

It will be a while however before I’m ready to get back to the business of pulling taps and all of the other work that needs to be finished to put the 2018 season to bed.

When full work resumes I’ll need to cut and split the firewood for 2019, at this time the trees are cut and the logs stacked. The cutting to length and splitting, then stacking to dry follow.

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Big wind

Two days ago, we had a lot of wind (gusts 60-65 mph). That day I finished boiling , cleaned up and headed home about 4 pm. Then 3 hrs later I went back down, as I drove in the 400′ long driveway to the sugarhouse I could see a tree or limb sticking up so it was above the roof on the cupola. Checking it out I discovered that an ash tree had blown over, it hit the corner over hang of the sugarhouse, broke 2 purlins that the steel roofing is attached to, then fell to the ground, missing a bulk tank filled with propane by about 6″(my finisher, tankless water and a small wall furnace plus my firestarter, [a 500,000 BTU weed burner] use propane).Then as I walked behind the sugarhouse I saw that a 7-8″ diameter limb had broken off the ash tree and had landed with the big end on the ground, the middle leaned on the overhang of the roof about 1/3 of the way towards the other corner and the top stuck up about 2′ above the cupola roof (the roof peak is about 18′ high).

Yesterday I went down and cleaned up, I first cut the ash tree (about 15″ diameter at the big end) into 8-10′ logs and stacked them using my excavator. Then I put a chain as high as I could reach on the limb that was leaning against the overhang, hooked the other end of the chain to the excavator bucket, lifted the bucket high and pulled on the chain, as the limb started to move it swung to the left, moving rather fast. Luckily I was able to lower the boom fast enough to get the swinging limb low enough so that as it hit the excavator it hit the protective railing. Had I not gotten it low enough it would have hit me before the swinging end hit the roll cage structure, I’d have surely gotten some broken ribs or worse.

Upon inspecting the sugarhouse I only find the 2 broken purlins and some minor bent edges on the steel roofing. I’ll replace the purlins but the steel roofing will be ok.

Then today the wind again blew hard, but only at up to 45 mph, so I stayed out of the woods, too many broken and swinging limbs to be out in that wind. Hopefully tomorrow it will die down. From the tree that was blown over, it also took down on end of a mainline that brings the sap in from about 60-70 taps. I hope to get that fixed tomorrow so I can collect more sap. Next week on Friday will be my last day collecting sap and boiling, then I’ll need to finish off the rest of the syrup, pack some in retail containers and the rest in SS barrels, then clean all of the equipment in the sugarhouse, wash all of the tanks and pull the taps  and replace the broken purlins before my surgery on 4/18.

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I can see the end from here

Looking at the forecast it appears this season will end for me on April 13. Not because the trees will be done, but I’ll need the time then to finish off what I have to be ready for surgery on April 18 and then no work for 2 weeks followed by 4 weeks of no lifting anything over 10#. There is only a little I can do at the sugarhouse and keep in the 10# lift limit.

This year, even with my delayed start on doctor’s orders will end up OK. The buds on my sugar maples are still tight, and between now and 4/13 most nights will be below freezing. It does look like that may start to change on 4/14.

I still don’t have a count on how many gallons I’ve made, it is all in my finisher so far. As long as the grade stays the same as what is in the finisher I’ll keep pumping the syrup drawn off the evaporator to there, up until I have 80-90 gal, then I’ll need to finish it off, verify and adjust density as necessary and then pack some in bottles and jugs while the rest will get packed into a SS barrel for future needs.

I only pack enough at one time in retail containers to fill my freezers (all syrup is stored in one of my 2 freezers at the sugarhouse, it retains the flavor best that way, until it is sold).

While the trees are slowing down I still get 100-175 gal of sap most days so til then I’ll keep going.

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Sap flows

Since my last post, the sap has flowed and we have boiled a few times. What we have gotten so far is all amber. In the last 2 days the flow has slowed, but the next week, starting tonight calls for below freezing at night and warm days. On Wednesday I had to remove the red and silver maples because both started to show a hint of green at the buds, now what is still going is all sugar maples.

Also, a friend who has a small evaporator called to ask if I could boil what he collected today (I boil for others on shares) and I said “bring it over”. The sap was fresh from today and all of his taps are on sugar maples., 210 gal worth. I’ll boil that while I pack quarts and half gallon jugs tomorrow, along with what runs on my trees up until the time I finish boiling that 210 gal which will take almost 3 hours, because it’s not enough to justify using the Reverse Osmosis.

The red maples and silver maples open leaf buds anywhere from 7 days to 23 days before sugar maples do, depending on the weather in that time span. Once any of them show even a hint of green for the leaf that is coming, the maple season for them is finished until next season.

I now have syrup in the canner to pack tomorrow and more in the 2′ x 6′ finisher to get the density right and either pack it or put it in a SS barrel for future use.

Based on the current weather forecast, we might still have at least a week, maybe even 2 before the season is over. At any rate, due to my 4/18 surgery I’ll be done on or before 4/17.