We finished up everything today for the 2017 sugaring season. Now it’s time to relax for a few days. . Jim, Vinnie and Dave finished pulling taps and spiles from the Harmon Woods - Jim appears to have fully recovered from his hip surgery last fall since he went down into the deep ravine NW of the shed and made it out by crawling on his hand and knees. Jim, Brent, Vinnie and Brent rolled up the harmon woods drain lines onto a spool. We left 4 posts where the pickup tanks were so we know where to place the tanks next year. Next year we are planning to put vacuum systems in place to help us monitor the woods for leaks, clean out all of the sap from the tube lines when runs are done and at the end of the season and to also to increase sap flow when the weather conditions are not ideal. Jim plans to take the home woods sap tank wagon down to pittmans and they will setup the zero milk tank to hold the vacuum. We’ll have to come up with a plan for the Harmon Woods though. We will also continue to redo the tube lines by removing old drops and adding in new trees. We have about 2 years worth of work yet to complete this.
Yesterday was the first day we heard the frogs croaking which confirms that the soil temperatures have risen enough to end the sugaring season even though there are some ideal sap days forecasted through next week. . The cleanup of the equipment continues. - Jim and Dave picked up the three 1500 gallon tanks and accessory equipment (ladders, brushes, pump) from Patnode Valley and brought them back to Jim’s farm for cleaning. Dave goes inside the tanks and uses a pressure washer to thoroughly clean the tanks. Jim also finished up washing the sap bag holders in his dishwasher. We are on track to complete the cleanup by the end of this coming weekend.
The season is over. Pittman’s advised us today that the trees have turned so the sap is not usable anymore and it’s time to pull the spiles out of the trees. Weiss Woods total was 1,130 gallons of maple syrup made from 45,524 gallons of sap. Of the total the Harmon woods was 905 gallons of maple sap made from 36,648 gallons of maple sap. Sugar content was down from .224 to .214 and sap was down 3,472 gallons so it was a little below average year for us. It was a very good year for operators using vacuum systems since there was a lot of moisture in the ground. We will be doing a cost analysis of putting vacuums systems into our 2 woods for next years sugaring season. . The reason our sap was down as compared to the operations using vacuum was that we were not getting freezing nites and there wasn’t much sunshine so the sap only flowed at about 20% as compared to flowing after a freezing nite. The vacuum systems would continue to pull sap higher volumes of sap. Yesterday we collected our last sap of the season and we removed the 449 taps using blue plastic bags and the galvanized hangers. This took about 2 1/2 hours. Helping in the woods was Vinnie, Dave, Jim, Kevin, Kari and Liz. Today Jim and Dave started cleaning the equipment. 3 plastic tanks were cleaned with a pressure washer and put away. Jim used the dishwasher to clean the bag hangars and did about 160 so over 1/3 done. We’ll continue to clean up this week and plan to be done by Saturday.
There is big low pressure system to the south so our weather is cool and cloudy. Low is 37 and high is about 47 so it’s not conducive to sap production. Production to date is 1,089 gallons of syrup made with 43,681 gallons of sap. The trees are not ready to turn yet - there is no snow on the ground but there is still ice on the pond in the Harmon Woods so the frogs will not be croaking for awhile. Yesterday Jim and Dave picked up 319 gallons of bag sap using the homewoods pickup tractor and then filling the Schwan’s truck by the grain bins. We also bottled 42 gallons of Grade B syrup for our customers that like the strong maple taste. It’s supposed to freeze after the storm for 2 nites so we should get more sap since all of the tap holes are still fresh.
It froze last nite - 28 degrees but warmed up to 60 degrees. The sap ran today at about 25% to 30% of maximum . I just took a photo of the Harmon tanks and there was about 1000 gallons of sap that has run from Noon till 6:30pm I’ll head to PC tomorrow to check on the harmon bags and pick them up in the AM if needed. Rip Gilles’s sap has stopped running since he tapped earlier than us and used old spiles.
The weekend weather remains cool, cloudy and drizzly so very little sap this weekend. Temperatures remain between 35 and 45 degrees. We will have to wait til the sun comes out again to get more sap flowing. Brent replaced the batteries in the harmon tanks camera so that camera is back working. The voltage had dropped to 4.8 and now is showing 5.7 volts. Everyone gets a day off to either watch the NCAA basketball tournament or head up north to relax at the cabin. It’s been a busy 3 first 3 weeks of the season with over 40,000 gallons of sap collected and bottling 223 gallons of syrup. We are looking forward to the Pittman Sugar bush open house on 4/1/2017 with a pancake breakfast.
Rainy and cool today so sap wasn’t running much. The current 10 day forecast stays cool but no freezing nites so the sap season could be near the end. Jim, Dave, Brent, Mason & Jordan Clare bottled 223 gallons of maple syrup today. This was an all time record for one day so we have plenty of inventory for customer orders for the next few months. After the last run the official tally is 985 gallons of syrup and 39,303 gallons of sap. there was an additional 1600 gallon of sap in the harmon tanks that was picked up today while we were bottling syrup. Tomorrow is the dodge ball tournament in PC so many of the WW owners will be at this community fund raising event for PC Youth Sports.
After the hard freeze (18 degrees) yesterday AM the sap started running at 2:30pm and ran all nite. One tanker of 2500 was picked up at 8:30pm and by 7:30AM today there was 2,000 more gallons ready for pickup. We are expecting some of the bags to be full when we pick them up this afternoon. The homewoods tank was running over when Jim picked up his first tanker about 7:30AM. After this large run we will have about 40,000 gallons of sap and 1000 gallons of syrup. The sugar content so far this year is down 0.07 so about the same as last year. If we have one more large run we will have surpassed last years total. of 49,000 gallons of sap and 1,275 gallons of syrup. Jim’s new nickname is smoky. While I was checking lines in the Harmons woods (found 2 small leaks in the white line below Matilda) he decided to burn trash in the pasture. The winds picked up from the south and the flames ignited the dead grass. Since the flames were heading to his barn he called the fire department since he couldn’t control the fire. 4 fire trucks, 3 police cars, ambulance and one brush truck arrived to save the day. Hopefully we can bottle tomorrow AM since we are now out of inventory of last years syrup.
I’m a little late starting my blog for 2017 due to deaths in the family. Weiss Woods lost 2 sappers this year - our brother Bruce Michael Weiss (age 61) died of cancer January 23rd and our father W. Eugene (Gene) Weiss (age 92) died on March 6th. The remaining 10 members will carry on but we will miss their help and support that has resulted in the business we have today.
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