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Thread: 5000 taps, one man

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Stanbridge Station, QC
    Posts
    23

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    I am very fit, so tapping all day, day after day, on a hillside is not an issue. Also, I don't see tapping as being an issue, as it is not a time-sensitive task. It can be done over several weeks. Sap and boiling, however, is time-critical, so that's where I'd invest.

    Selling sap the first year is a great idea.

    Sugaring would be my full-time job for 6 months per year, from November to May. This should allow plenty of time for forest management, tubing repair, tapping, and all the rest.

    I am lucky that I would not have to mortgage the house should I dive in on this project.

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Potsdam in far northern New York
    Posts
    742

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    Sit down with a whole stack of paper and include everything. What it will actually take to put up a sugarhouse, including driveway construction, electrical service, drilling a well and all the labor that will go in before you tap the first tree. Don't forget the banker and his cut, and for that matter the tax man. You can easily find a salesman who will show you how it's impossible to lose on an operation like this...just sign here. While you're tallying costs, don't forget that salesman because he gets his long before you get yours, and whoever fronts this project makes their percentages too.
    Figure your labor costs too. How many hours will it actually take to get it all set up, and how many hours each season...at a real rate of pay.
    When you get to the projected income page, base it on an average year and not a pie-in-the-sky, fantasy year because while it's possible, it's not probable. Base all your calculations on $20 per gallon, 'cause that's all they'll be giving you at this point, and even less if everyone else jumps aboard too.
    Compare your numbers and decide whether you can hold your breath for five to ten years, and don't forget to buy all new plastic every three years. Figure in the dump fees for the old plastic too.
    Maybe instead of sugaring, you could spend far less and build some nice hiking trails.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Center, Underhill Ctr, VT
    Posts
    4,986

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sunday Rock Maple View Post
    You may wish to consider just selling sap for the first season in order to work the bugs out.
    That is an excellent idea and a suggestion I frequently make. It requires far less capitalization (cash or loans) to start up an operation, and frees up a lot of time that would otherwise be spent processing sap to syrup and will help ensure your sap yields are as good as possible before you take the next step (if you decide to do that).
    Dr. Tim Perkins
    UVM Proctor Maple Research Ctr
    http://www.uvm.edu/~pmrc
    https://mapleresearch.org
    Timothy.Perkins@uvm.edu

  4. #14
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    River Falls, WI
    Posts
    769

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    A couple thoughts, one, why that size operation? I assume because the revenue is a good amount, or has the potential to be. My question though, is if you already have the capital to set up that operation, why not invest it in something less risky? Though, perhaps I misinterpreted your post about not needing to mortgage your house to get established.

    Second, just some food for thought for you. After the 2016 season I bought a bigger cooker and added tubing and vacuum to my woods. Used cooker, and the tubing is a 3/16& shurflo setup, so not a huge investment, but it was a lot for me. Then, right before the season started, on February 17th I fell on the ice and broke my ankle. Farming, which this is, is risky business, especially if you need to service debt or if you rely on the income. What happens if you get hurt or get sick at the wrong time?
    Second generation sap rat.

    Started taking over in 2012
    2012-2016: 300 buckets 120 on gravity tubing. Waterloo 2x10 wood fired. Averaged 105 gallons per season.
    2017: hoping for 300 on 3/16 with Shurflo and 50 buckets. New used 4x14 Algier wood fired cooker. 180 gallons of syrup

    2018: 300 on vacuum 2 buckets, finally got a splitter!

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Stanbridge Station, QC
    Posts
    23

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    I think we're getting off-track a bit here with the economics of such an operation, might be a good subject for another post. I do welcome the comments however. I do have another stable source of income, so I can live with the occasional off-year. This project is more of a lifestyle choice, as I am unable to sit still.

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    MN
    Posts
    76

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    I say go for it. You only live once. I would hate to look back in a few years and say if only i had... I run 2000 taps by myself and work fulltime on top of it. It can be easily done in my opinion. It will require alot of preparation before you start, which im sure you have started already. My advice is to not skimp on anything. Buy good pumps. New ones. When they are down your not making any money or syrup. Simplify things as much as possible. Ive been doing this at this scale for 4 yrs now. I love it with alot of passion. If you have the work ethic and can forgo many things in your life during syrup season, then go for it. Who cares if you fail. We all fail from time to time. You wont have any regrets. Sorry if this got off your topic but I will always support people who want to go for it. I hope all the best for your goal.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Lanark, ON
    Posts
    2,224

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    If you can do it I say go for it! I see from your address you are in Quebec - will that mean you need to get quota from the Federation?

    I too have considered doing maple full time but it just won't work for me right now. We'll see what another 5 or 10 years can bring.

    If I was you I'd try to find some young legs to help check lines periodically through the season. The extra sap you get from the higher vacuum will pay for the labour and frees you up to do other things. I know doing it solo and not having labour costs is your goal but IMO there is a definite ROI from paying for someone to do certain things for you.
    4,600 Taps on vacuum
    9,400 gallons storage
    3 tower CDL RO
    3.5'x14' Lapierre Force 5
    Twitter & Instagram: @ennismaple
    www.ennismaple.com

  8. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Peru, Maine
    Posts
    627

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    Another suggestion if you have the time would be to try and work for someone for a few seasons. We learned that 5400 taps would be too much for us with full time jobs, got paid for the hours we worked and learned A LOT on someone else’s dime about how to manage a woods. We improved our woods greatly with the experience gained.
    If you need to make a move soon it sounds like time won’t be an issue for you. While the economics of it may not be your deciding factor, it is well worth the time to put it on paper.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Location
    Stanbridge Station, QC
    Posts
    23

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    I've been sugaring my small sugarbush at home for years (300 taps), so I have a good idea what I'm getting into. I'm big into forest management. Tubing and RO will be new to me however. The lot I'm considering is nearby in beautiful Franklin County, VT.

    Of course the economics is a factor. But it is not the only factor. If economics were everyone's no.1 focus, we would have no independent restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, mom&pop stores, general stores...

  10. #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Merrill, Wi
    Posts
    345

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    Our 1st year we took the plunge and I ran 3,000 trees by myself... We went from cooking on a flat pan to building a 30x45 sugarhouse (which we built not a contractor) and installed 80,000 feet of line all within a matter of 1 year. My suggestion is engineer your processes to eliminate all wasted steps...

    If you can get sap directly from the woods to the sugarhouse without transporting it do it!!!

    Remote monitoring will save you on average 10,000 steps a day...

    If you can oversize your equipment do it!!! (you'll thank me when something doesn't go as planning)

    Don't skimp on sap storage... (this gives you the flexibility to scheduling cooking because sapping by yourself is like jumping into P90x when you're 50lbs overweight)

    Reliable equipment/replacement part availability (get equipment locally so you know replacement parts are available)

    Expect to be tired/expect to work hard/budget for all the small things that nickel and dime the operation...

    Expect to feel the satisfaction of a hard days work and the best of luck to you... "the harder I work the luckier I get" I expect this will be true for you as well!
    Maple Man 85
    Anthony & Rebecca Renken
    2017=200 taps
    2018=4000 taps (goal) 3000 taps (actual)
    2019=7000 taps (goal)
    30x45 Sugar House
    4x16 Leader Vortex
    www.northwoodsmaplefarm.com

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