3rd Generation Family-Owned Business
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ABOUT THE FARMER'S
Bruce grew up, just barely, in pre-interstate Vermont. That was the mythical place all the 14th generation Vermont websites try to describe. The fact remains, that most of their good maple trees were sold for the Japanese bowling alley craze.
My parents, who were not natives, tapped a couple trees in the yard. My mom boiled the first year in the kitchen. Then the locals stopped them. And my dad, who left the army to become a rural family physician, starting bringing home tin half gallons from his house calls. Every spring
Marilee grew up in northern New Hampshire where her father sugared every spring on the family farm. She claims she was impressed (a Royal Navy term for you land lubbers) at a very early age to pilot the D-2 dozer hauling the collection tank. Since she couldn't reach the transmission clutch, her father would put the machine in low gear, place her on the driver's seat and hop off! Then he and his partner would holler to her which steering clutch, they are after all counter intuitive to a child, to pull as they kept up with the crawler emptying buckets into the trailing scoot.
We manage five small maple orchards totaling 800 taps, all sugar maples. No red maple sap is collected. The maple sap harvest occurs in late winter through early spring, with peak flow always occurring close to the spring equinox. Every February the sugar maples are drilled, a small diameter tap inserted and connected to gravity tubing systems, and the maple sap begins to flow into the field tanks, each capable of holding 3 gallons per tap.
That's right! A maple tree can push 2 gallons of sap out of a 1/4" hole in 24 hours, with prized trees doing even better. But maple sap only runs on warm days after freezing nights. To ensure high quality maple syrup, sap must be collected each day it is produced and quickly processed at the sugarhouse. At the end of the season, typically early April, the taps are pull out of the trees and the lines sanitized. Healthy tree growth will seal the drill hole by the end of the year.
If you haven't seen a modern Sugar House, brace yourself. Like maple trees without buckets, technology has replaced the steamy late-night romance of the maple syrup production. The sap collected fresh daily from the field tanks is filtered and fed into a reverse osmosis unit. There sap is pumped under high pressure against a thin film membrane, which will allow water molecules to pass but not 10X larger sugar molecules. The pure water squeezed out of the sap is called permeate; the remaining sap now called concentrate. The permeate, aka 100% pure soft water, is stored for washing and cleaning the sugarhouse equipment because of its ability to quickly dissolve impurities. The concentrate is fed into a modern wood fired evaporator equipped with a blower to magnify the heat of the fire. In our operation, 75% of the water is removed mechanically and 25% is removed by wood fired evaporation. The hot raw syrup streaming off the evaporator is filtered to remove a naturally occurring by product, sugar sand, leaving a crystal-clear product ready to be bottled and stored. Visitors are always welcome for a hands-on experience of any phase of the operation during the maple season.