Today I will be bottling the next batch of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup. Yesterday I pumped it from the bourbon barrel, where it had been for over 6 months, into the finisher. I then heated it and left it to set to boil off any alcohol that might be in it. This morning I’ll heat it again, to about 205-210, then filter it and pump it into the bottler. Then we bottle it into glass flasks. I just need to guess how many of each size to bottle because the next batch will not be ready until early December.
I’m glad the high heat weather has moved out. I’m guessing we will get some warm temperatures again this fall, but I really like waking up to high 40’s and low 50’s.
I guess it’s time to get going, my brother in law is helping today and I prefer I get there before he does. We should be finished before lunchtime.
Summer is usually our slowest season for syrup sales, but the this summer and last, were our busiest ever. We do not do farmer’s markets, because we sell everything we make by the 3 ways we now sell. First is off this website, second is at my one retail outlet (The Eclectic Chic, in Oneida Castle, NY) and third is sales from the sugarhouse and my home. Still our bourbon barrel aged maple syrup is our # 1 selling item by dollar sales.
I will need to bottle more syrup soon, I hope the temperature cools down a lot, I don’t do well in 90+ temperatures with high humidity when working over a bottler that is at 185-187 degrees. Outside temperatures in the 60’s is far better when bottling. However, at some point I may need to bottle at whatever the outside temperature is if I get close to selling out of syrup. I still have stainless steel barrels of syrup in reserve, one of Golden, 2 of Amber and maybe 2 or 3 of dark. I sell very little Golden and lots of dark so when I pack some of the golden for retail, I’ll likely blend the rest of the golden with a barrel of dark, which will make it all dark. It takes very little darker syrup to change a light one to dark, and not only attain the dark color but also achieve a proper taste for dark.
My next batch of bourbon barrel aged maple syrup should be ready in about 4-5 weeks too, then I’ll have to pack that in retail bottles. At this time I still have a good inventory, but I’ll need more to keep up with the demand as Christmas orders start coming in, especially as a few customers order a whole case for gift giving and personal use.
Tomorrow I will be splitting more firewood, in the morning, until it gets too hot out. The logs have been cut and stacked for 2-5 years, I just need to split and stack. My wood splitter is fast, even though I split everything to wrist size. The 1.5 second cycle time moves along quickly. ( check out “Super Split” to see one in action. )
It has been far too hot the last 2 weeks. Today and tomorrow will have heat humidity indexes near or over 100 F, yesterday it got over 95. I’ve only been able to work on the battery build a couple of hours in the mornings before the heat tells me to go home where the AC is keeping the house nice and cool. I have not packed any more syrup either, because of the heat. Working over a bottler that is 185-187 F in this heat doesn’t work for me. I’m a winter person, I’d much rather work in 0 degrees rather than near 100 F.
As far as the new LiFePo4 battery bank goes, I have it all assembled, with the required battery management system (BMS) and it is clamped into a single unit. It sets on a bench, with a 1″ insulation foam under it and a heating pad. When all finished it will be enclosed in an insulated box. The heating pad will keep the battery above 37F because this type of battery can not be charged when frozen. The heating pad has it’s own thermostat and it only uses 65 watts, it will be run off the battery. The battery bank will be able to run that heating pad for over 6 days even if the thermostat never shuts it off, with no sun input (solar) if needed.
I re-routed the heavy battery cables from outside where my retired battery bank was and I’m now ready to make the wiring connections inside, as soon as the weather cools off to under 80. I also will be changing the main fuse from 250A down to 100A, because this battery back up is only to run a 1250 watt electric heater if grid power goes out and my propane furnace to heat the small room the reverse osmosis (RO) machine is in fails. The RO must not freeze. The RO is what removes 75%+ of the water from the sap before it gets boiled into syrup. That 1 electric heater is the only thing being powered except for the heating pad mentioned earlier. Back when the electric heater was the only heat in that well insulated room, if the outdoor temp was -20F the heater only ran about 25% of each hour.
I have taken the time to get more product ready for sale. Most grades and sizes are in stock now, but I will add more in the next 2 weeks as I ramp up for fall sales. Usually sales start to increase in August and then grow rapidly through December. I believe I’m in good shape to meet the demand. I still have all grades except Very Dark in stainless barrels, ready to be packed into any sizes that I run low on. I have a good supply of both sizes on bourbon barrel aged maple syrup already bottled. I also have another batch that should be ready late August and another batch that should be ready in early December.
Yesterday I started design work on my lean-to equipment shed so I could make a lumber list. Next I will saw the lumber needed from hemlock logs off my property. The only things I’ll need to buy for the project is sono tubes and concrete for concrete piers , pressure treated posts to support the open side and steel roofing. And of course screws to assemble it all. This will be attached to the 28′ side of my shop. When finished I’ll be able to park much of my farm equipment out of the weather.
I also still need to finish bucking and splitting my firewood for 2020, the logs are all piled, ready to cut.
Another project to be done soon is to put my new Lithium Iron Phosphate battery bank together for my back up power. The dead lead/acid batteries were removed and taken to the scrap yard this week.They served me well, the life expectancy was 7 years and I got 11 years out of them. The new battery bank should last 25-30 years the way I’m setting them up. I will be changing the charge profile for the longest life of the batteries. I’ve been studying how to do that.
Sales have been quite good and we continue to bottle more from our SS barrels into retail containers. Last week we bottled more Dark, Strong taste, the week before we packed more bourbon barrel aged maple syrup and filled another barrel to start the aging process.
Tomorrow we should finish pulling taps for the year. Then later this week I will be bottling more Golden and Amber syrup into retail containers.
I have also been making improvements in my shop. I added more shelving and have organized it a lot in there, I still plan to add at least 1 more shelf, maybe 2 more for better organization and easier locating of things when needed.
I also plan to add a lean-to roof off one side for storing farm equipment. For that I’ll be sawing more lumber to build it.. That should be 8′ out from the building and at least 24′ long, maybe 28′ (The shop is 28′ long, I don’t know if I want to set it back 4′ in the front to make backing the long sap trailer around easier or if I’ll improve the circular drive to eliminate the need to back that trailer.