Sunday, April 08, 2007

What a Sap

Bill and Isaac in the Sugar Bush

The Evaporator

The Finished Product

Our friends Bill and Kristin and their son Isaac have a great old farm a few miles north of us. Bill decided he wanted to make some maple syrup with the big stainless steel evaporator pan he got somewhere. He ended up building a 9x12 sugar shack on the concrete pad of an old garage. I talked him into using an old horizontal fuel oil tank that I wanted to get rid of, for the arch. The arch is the structure that holds the fire and the evaporator pan sits on top of. We ended up cutting part of the top off of the tank that the pan could sit over. Then we cut out a door and welded it back on with some hinges. For the smoke stack we cut a 6 inch round hole in the back end of the tow and welded a piece of silo filling pipe onto it.
It was pretty impressive how well the thing worked. It didn't take nearly as much wood as Bill figured it would to boil down the sap. He put out about 15 or 16 taps and they ended up with more than 3 gallons of syrup. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. The difference in the colors of syrup has to do with the time of season. Earlier in the season makes lighter and later it gets darker.

So now Bill is thinking that maybe full time sugar maker might be a good career change for him. He'd have a real busy month or so every spring, but then he'd have the rest of the year off for hunting. I think it's a good idea. The salary and benefits package don't look that great, but you can't have everything. It would also dovetail nicely with Kristin's future full-time goat farmer career. Isaac is pretty smart and shouldn't have any trouble supporting them in their old age.

Bill Skims the Foam Off While Pete Contemplates The Finer Points of Boiling Sap


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