Creating Sugaring Paths

Sugaring season is around the corner and so I’m giving us paths through the woods. No sledding 35 gallons of sap, no stuck ATVs. One hard lesson after another, we now know what to do and when. We also know how: I didn’t even get the tractor stuck and made quick work of it all. It’s so nice for these things to have become evident.

Maple Juice 2020 wrapping up

Well it’s been a weird season, it started as it always does on a nice late February day. But the Maples stopped flowing rather abruptly in the middle of March. It’s not unusual to get a break in the flow, but they never picked up again even on perfect days. I’m not sure what conclusions to draw, or if I care to draw any. But I’ve never seen it stop like that. Every single of the few seasons we’ve had so far, the trees wouldn’t just stop running until the sap turned yellow. Oh well, we still pulled 5 gallons and I still have about 2 more in the evaporator I’ll process very soon now that I know there won’t be any more sap. To add to the weirdness, all the syrup we made is super dark, no light early flow.

It’s a bit too bad, I was ready for a lot more. 7 Gallons is hard to complain about though.

One of the nicest things this year, I rigged a pump on the ATV to pump the sap straight into the tanks. I went from lifting hundreds of gallons of sap 3 times (bucket -> ATV -> tank -> evaporator), to only once (bucket -> ATV).

Ready to draw

drawing

And the yummy result (I have yet to commission labels for the adventures involved)

Grand Opening

The Sugarhouse is officially open for business. I finished everything in the nick of time for the 2020 sugaring season. Which hit like a ton of bricks a little later than the usual mid-February.

Coming up is a list of all the cool features of the Sugarhouse.

I used the opportunity to touch up the bricking of the evaporator and add another layer where the fire burns the hotest.

 

The sap tanks are now above the evaporator to they can gravity feed into it. No more filling it one pot at a time :). The flue goes out through the cupola so as to create a draft of hot air going up around it, steering the vapor on the right path out the building.

Not only is the sap gravity fed, it’s self regulating thanks to a float valve.

I have a legit workbench for the first time in a decade.

No stain has been applied to the inside of the siding, I didn’t want vapor interacting with chemical so the inside is 100% untreated wood.

We have a very enclosed loft for kids to play into and stay away from the burning hot evaporator. I made little windows so they can watch without going over the railing. There is also a small basket they can play with to pass things up and down (a huge hit).

Inside the loft.

The pulley system which opens the cupola’s flaps. No ladders :).

The cupola in action.

First firing! A big moment for us.

The cupola’s capacity for evacuating vapor is much higher than our evaporator’s ability to make it. We’ll be able to upgrade it without worrying about vapor accumulation.

All in all it’s been a tremendous success and really super nice.