November 14, 2012
In between trips to town and putting up sap lines we managed to get a chance to go to Two Lynn’s Farm to pick up our two turkeys. No, these guys are not for Thanksgiving dinner. We were supposed to pick them up weeks ago, but never managed to make it there. Sandy raised an assortment of poults. We had her set aside a pair of blue slate/bourbon mix who are now about four months old.
They are still adjusting to their new environment, and are unsure about their housing. The first night we carried them inside the turkey coop and they were sitting on the roost in the morning when we opened it up. Last night they did not want to go in at all. So we will see how they feel about it tonight. We may have to carry them in for a few more nights. Food did not coax them in. I have seen them walk in and out of it during the day, so I imagine it will just take a little time for them get used to new surroundings.
Hopefully this pair will do well. Pot Hole Farm now has some new voices to mix with the chorus of rooster, hen, guinea, barking dogs and meowing cats. Oh, and yea the occasional call for Sonny to come in for dinner!
Blue Slate/Bourbon Red mixed Turkeys.
November 13, 2012
We have been trying to take advantage of these spring like days to get as many sap lines run as possible. Trips to town start early in the day and consist of a running list 0f supplies to be purchased at Lowes and Tractor Supply, then back to the farm. Sonny has been running the 12.5 gauge high tensile strength wire used to hold up the main sap line for a week now. We later go back and tie the 3/4″ main sap line to the support wire. Once that has been completed we will finally connect up the 5/16″ lateral sap lines or blue lines as we call them. Hopefully we will be finished before freezing weather and the first big snowfall. All that will be left to do is tap the trees when maple syrup season starts in February or March.
Main sap line attached to wire.
We use a spinning jenny wheel to guide the wire as we pull it up and down the hillsides. Otherwise the roll may become tangled and Sonny or I might roll down the hill with a wire slinky tumbling after.
The Spinning Jenny is a great timesaver.
Every few months through out the summer we have purchased additional 35 gallon sap tanks (pigs) that will be placed at the end of each main line to collect the sap each day. Then we will pump the sap into another tank in the back of the RTV and transport it to the sugar shack. This will be much easier than the bucket method we used last year.
We anticipate that it will take a couple of more years to finish connecting lines to the rest of the Maple trees on our property, but for now we have enough trees to keep you all in syrup.
Well lunch break is over and I need to don boots and work gloves. The Master syrup maker is calling.
November 4, 2012
Sonny has been working hard to get the sugar shack completed before the maple season starts in February and March. I do believe he eats, sleeps and dreams about maple syrup. That is a good thing for all of you because it means he is passionate about maple syrup and will do his best to produce the best maple syrup in West Virginia.
Yesterday we crossed a big milestone. The evaporator and tanks are all in place so we did a little test run of the system. Sonny filled the large holding tank with water and we watched as it flowed down the pvc pipe into the evaporator. He worked up a system to where we will not have to use buckets to pour the sap into the evaporator. Instead he will pump the sap from a tank in the back of the RTV into another holding tank that sits higher than the evaporator. He can then control the amount of sap that is put into the evaporator by the use of shut off valves. Confused? Maybe a few pics will help.
(notice the sap holding tank above the evaporator)
The day was cool and perfect for starting a fire in the wood stove or wood furnace as Sonny calls it, that will heat the sap and boil off the water. We could smell the newness of the wood furnace and evaporator as the metal warmed up. Soon the water began to bubble, creating steam that rolled up from the evaporator like an ethereal smoke. It made its escape to the outside through open vents along the sides and top of the sugar shack. To look at the outside of the building one might think we had a moonshine still working in there.
Firing up the Firebox
We still have a few things to tweak to finish up, but this dry run was a success. Today Sonny is out running lines to the new trees we marked. I will have more on that tomorrow.
I really hope to give you all a play by play of the maple syrup production so you can be a part of the process and when you pour that sweet amber syrup over your pancakes and watch in anticipation as it drizzles down the sides, you will know exactly where it came from and what had to be done to get it.