Maple Syrup Season 3

We are in the middle of our 3rd season now.  With a lull in the weather and pretty slippery conditions outside I thought I’d write a little update.

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Slippery surfaces and below zero temperatures.

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Our family dog Molson couldn’t get much closer to the fire if he tried.

A couple of weeks ago the forecast had me worried that it would be a very short season indeed, however such predictions have thankfully proven untrue.Karen McCrimmon and I

I was given the great opportunity to feature my maple syrup at the Kinburn Easter Pancake Breakfast on March 19.  On top of that I held my own pancake breakfast for friends of mine on site.  What successes these events were!  In Kinburn I received compliments on the delicious flavor of the syrup and an appreciation in keeping with the traditional bucket collection of the practice.  Karen McCrimmon, our local MP stopped by as well, whom I had my picture taken with by a local reporter for the West Carleton Review.

We had a very good run of sap earlier in the week.  In fact, we hit capacity in terms of holding tank storage one day.  As a result, AJ and I had a full day of boiling.  Normally we start boiling in the late afternoon, after the temperature has warmed up for the sap to flow, and we’ve collected enough by the late afternoon to warrant it.  Not Wednesday though.  Wednesday we started boiling early in the day, kept the roaring fire hot with dry wood and managed to boil off over 500L of sap in our continuous flow evaporator.  We drew off 3 times which, for those of you who are wondering is A LOT!  Since we wanted to process as much sap as possible before it froze in the holding tank the next day, we set the drawn off syrup aside to be finished the next day and kept stoking the fire.  The syrup that we drew off was practically done, very little need for time in the finishing unit.  That batch was 27.5L; the clarity of that batch, and all the batches so far is excellent too.  I’ll update more later.  Right now it’s time to get back to work.

 

 

 

Equipment

Our venture to Toledo, Ontario for maple syrup and beekeeping equipment was successful today.  First, I bought 30 more sap buckets, spiles and lids to make my grand total number of taps to 300.  We’re going to put my evaporator (150-300 tap capacity) through its paces that’s for sure.  Next, I visited a beekeeping equipment supplier who equipped me fully for my beekeeping endeavors.  What a day!

Abuzz About Bees

I ordered my bees!!  Wow, I’ve got so much to think about and do and prepare for my their arrival now!  My mind has been buzzing, hatching new plans about this until they arrive.  Now I get to wait.  Until May.  Wait and brainstorm until May when they arrive.  Maybe wait and scheme conjures a better mental image.  I’m excited!

We planted some apple trees last year close to where they’ll be situated.  I know there is an abundance of other nectar sources around as well and I’d like to be able to identify them as I walk around so I’ve been doing lots of research on that.  The beekeeping course I took at Algonquin College last year was very informative and made me feel ready to get my own hives this year.  “Attracting Native Pollinators”, “The Hive and the Honey Bee”, “The Backyard Beekeeper”, “The Quest for the Perfect Hive” are a couple of the books I’ve been reading to educate myself on what I’m getting myself into.  Since I work in a library, finding books on the topic is a cinch.  In fact I’m up to my eyeballs in beekeeping literature.  Finding the time to read everything is the hard part.  Luckily I’ve got a couple of more months to get through the deluge of bee info before they arrive.

2016

My mind is abuzz with questions about how the bizarrely mild weather so far this winter is going to affect the sap flow.  If we don’t get a very deep freeze the season will likely be very short indeed.  A recent trip to Montreal’s Dominion and Grimm warehouse has me enchanted with the amount of specialty equipment there is.  I reigned in the urge to splurge on all the spiffy equipment and gadgets that appeared essential to have.  If everything goes according to plan this year, I’ll add 20-30 more taps if I can.  More on that later.

In other news, my excitement about beekeeping is mounting as I put together my order for equipment and hives.  I’ve been in touch with a man I can order my bees from too.  Oooohh I can’t wait until the spring!

Kinburn Community Christmas Craft Sale

Here we are getting unpacked for selling maple syrup and maple products at the Kinburn Christmas Craft sale.

Here we are getting unpacked for selling maple syrup and maple products at the Kinburn Christmas Craft sale.

This past weekend marked my second market experience, this one where I grew up in Kinburn, Ontario. And what a fun experience it was, and successful too!  I sold maple syrup and other value-added products like maple fudge, maple butter and maple cones.  Held in the Kinburn Community Center the craft sale brought back memories of my childhood and my Dad teaching me how to make maple syrup, going on school field trips to sugar bushes, and joining a maple syrup 4h group and much more.  And the Kinburn Community Center holds some special memories for me too: I can remember going to family dances as a child in the very room I sold maple syrup in, taking tai kwon do classes, and so much more.  And I reconnected with a number of people I had not seen in years!  I felt like I was at the right place at the right time this weekend.  Thank-you to the organizers for ‘fitting me in’!