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getting colder

Tonight the forecast calls for 34 F for the overnight low, then 24 Wednesday morning and 14 for Thursday morning. I guess the warm weather is over for now. I’ll need to drain my water tank at the sugarhouse tomorrow. These will be the coldest temperatures we have seen since Feb or March.

I am waiting for a special elbow to come so I can finish the power hook up  in the sugar house to feed the shop. The way I had planned turned out to not fit from where I came thru the wall from the trench to go into the panel box. I needed to get a tighter corner or the rest of parts I have would extend past the hole where the power needs to enter the breaker box.

Then I need a few more feet of #4 ground wire to finish connecting to the 2 ground rods. Then the breaker can be turned on to feed power to the shop, rather than the HD extension cord I’ve been using for the past year. Then I have several LED lights and receptacles to install on a rainy day. Much will likely be done after I put the woodstove in the shop. Then I’ll be able to work in my shirt sleeves rather than a heavy coat. I think I have all of the parts needed.

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I packed more syrup today

Today, with a cold rain outside I packed more syrup into bottles and jugs. Trying to be ready for Christmas sales.

The sales at the Eclectic Chic have been good. With their new location my sales volume is at about 5x last year and last year was fairly good. It just makes planning how much to have ready for sale more challenging, but I think we can handle it.

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After a few weather related delays

I finally got the storage loft joists installed. It took some calculating just to figure what the maximum length I could fit in. I had to cut one end mitered to match the roof pitch while the joist was going to set on the top plate (the top of the wall where the roof rafters are attached). Then I had to measure the distance from plate to plate for the exact width of the shop and add the space available on one plate. Then I added those and subtracted 1/8″. I then cut the joists that length. To install them I then slide one end in on one top plate as far as it would go and lift the opposite end up in line with the plate and then slide the joist onto that plate so I had roughly equal amounts resting on the plate at each end. Then I screwed the joist to the rafters. What made if far more difficult than it sounds is twofold. The shop is full, with only aisles to walk thru and the joists are quite heavy with nobody to help. However it is done. Tomorrow I will be splitting and stacking more firewood. Then On Thursday it looks like rain, so I’ll start putting the floor on the new loft. If I have breaks in the weather I’ll saw more floorboards. Those will be easy to install, each will be a little longer that the loft, I’ll just slide each board up onto the loft, push it in as far as it can go and slide it to one side and screw it in place. Then I’ll repeat until the last board,. I’ll then need to measure and cut that board to fit. When finished I’ll just chalk a line and saw to length in place.

Then on my next rainy day I’ll do some wiring, add lights, switches and receptacles. Somewhere in there I’ll also start putting the bulky but light weight items that don’t need to be accessed often up onto the loft. I’ll also put a light or 2 in the loft. Most of the lighting I bought is LED fixtures, using just 13 watts each. Over 4 of the work benches I’ll have LED 4′ fixtures. Finally things in there will be well lit. Since last October my lighting has been run off a single extension cord from the sugarhouse and had to be moved to light what ever I was working on.

Then I need to bottle more bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, sales of it remain strong. I need to place another order for more bottles, I don’t have enough bottles to do a whole batch and I would not do a partial batch.

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Finally got to do some sawing.

After several delays I finally got my sawmill running yesterday. Finished 1 log yesterday (cut some floor boards) and just 1 today. Part of today, after cutting the first joist I tried to see howlong  I had to make it in order to install the joist. I am setting them on the top plate for the side walls and I had to determine what the longest length I could make them and still be able to set them into position. As it ended each will rest on their respective top plate with 2.75″ resting on the plate. That gives me just 1/8″ extra room, when I push the first end onto one side plate as far as it will go, so I can raise the second end up into position. Then I’ll center them and screw each to the rafter it will be attached to. The first one will be doubled so there is less sag as I load things onto the loft. I still need to cut 4 more joists and then  a bunch more floor boards. The floor boards are being cut at 1″ x 6″ x 14.5′ and the joists are cut at 2″ x 5″ x 14′. I am cutting them all out of Eastern Hemlock. Some may wonder why I cut the joists at 2″ x 5″, I thought I needed that much to support the eventual weight that will be stored on the loft, a 2×4 would be too weak and a 2×6 would use up too much storage space, with the hip roof as it is I’ll just have 37″ of head room in the center, but that will have to suffice. When I cut a 2×5 it measures 2″ x 5″, unlike what the lumber yards sell when a 2×6 measures 1.5″ x 5.5″.

This is the first sawing I’ve done since about July of 2017, I just had to top off the battery charge, add some fresh gas and the saw started up with a few seconds of cranking the starter. The saw has a 20 HP Honda engine, I always get along well with Honda engines.

My saw is a Peterson WPF (winch production frame) ( commonly called a swing blade sawmill, as I saw, I go in one direction sawing with the blade horizontal, then I flip it to vertical and saw in the opposite direction, getting one finished board with each round trip).  I bought it in 2004 after not being happy with the lumber I got back when I had a local sawyer cut the first logs I had taken to him when I was building my sugarhouse. One thing is for sure, I don’t saw as fast as I did 10+ years ago, but at least I can still do it. I likely have 3-4 more hours to saw the rest of the floor boards then I’ll start building the loft. One spot in the loft will have a cut out for a stove pipe to run up thru, I am putting wood stove in there for heat when I need to work in the shop in cold weather. I’ll be using a Fisher Poppa Bear (a now extinct wood stove manufacturer in Syracuse back in the 60’s and 70’s. I took in exchange from a guy who owed me some money.

Soon after the loft is finished, I’ll need to open another SS barrel of Dark syrup, heat it,  filter it and pump it into my bottler. Then I will bottle it to refill my freezers, my inventory is getting low. I’ll need to check but I think I will still have 4 more barrels after that next one gets bottled. I think those will likely hold me thru the Christmas season, but it will be close. It seems every year my sales go up by 20-30% over the previous year.

Another thing is my barrel of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup, some how in my head I was thinking it would be ready this week or early in October. I checked the date it was hot packed. it will not be ready until the last week in November or the first week in December. The way that has been selling I may possibly run out of my current stock before that next barrel is ready to bottle. I fell behind on packing the bourbon barrels when I was laid up after my surgery.

Then it will be time to start prepping for the 2019 season. I have about 4-500 drops to make. A drop is the 5/16″ tubing with a tap on one end and a Tee on the other end. Drops are changed every 3-4 years but in my lease nothing got done for the 2018 season because of my surgery.Then the tap collects the sap and it runs down to the lateral. The lateral is either 5/16 or 3/16 tubing which goes from tree to tree and then connects into a mainline. It may seem weird or backwards, but with 5/16 laterals a line usually has from 3-7 taps, but on a 3/16 lateral there is usually 15 -35 taps. Someday I’ll explain why the huge difference. For now, this post has already gotten quite long.

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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).