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Thread: Backyard Syrup Enthusiasts 2020

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
    Posts
    121

    Default Backyard Syrup Enthusiasts 2020

    Well here we are again, on the cusp of another syrup season. I hope everyone has had a fantastic past year. I've enjoyed this Backyard thread over the past few seasons so let's get it going again.

    Welcome to all backyarders---tell your story, what's your set up, how much do you make, share your seasons highs and lows, anything maple!

    I'll make my own quick intro. This is my fifth season making syrup, third here in Mount Vernon, northwest of Augusta. I use a concrete block arch with 3 steam trays in conjunction with a wood stove/steam tray as a warming pan. This setup will evaporate around 7 gallons per hour so I can easily get a gallon of syrup a day. If I start reasonably early enough I can push 60 gallons.

    I collect in milk jugs attached to 5/16 spiles with a piece of tube and jute as a hanger. I drag a homemade sled (old generator frame on downhill skis) around with 2-5 gallon pails to collect. The pails go in a snow bank for storage or the shed of it is too cold outside.

    At the end of last season I had three goals before starting this season. I got two out of three done: mortaring my block arch together with a brick lining and adding a hinged door; and gathering more buckets. I did not decide to expand the arch for added capacity. The garden was good, but my bees swarmed and vacated.

    Last season I made more syrup than in past years at 13+ gallons, and I've got a little left. This will be a good target for this season as well. Now is the big question -when to tap. It's been a fairly warm January with I'm sure a few sap runs, but I don't generally tap till mid February. However, next week is looking high 30's Monday and Tuesday, so I guess I'll wait till Sunday and look at the week as a whole. Most likely waiting till mid month will be my choice, but I'll get everything ready.

    What's everyone thinking?

    What are your seasons plans?

    Benjamin Rush, early physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson said "The gift of the maple trees is from a benevolent Providence." I couldn't agree more..... I look forward to reading your stories and best of luck to all!!
    2x4 concrete block arch with three steam trays
    Separate warming stove/steam tray
    2016 12 taps, 3 gallons
    2018 15 taps, 7 gallons
    2019 38 taps, 13.6 gallons
    2020 40 taps, 13.7 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Mid-coast Maine
    Posts
    59

    Default

    This will be my second year in Maine and my six syrup season in my life, I upped my game to 125 taps, Ive also added an RO bucket to my arsenal to cut my boil time. Looking at the current weather I am looking at a run this weekend and early next week and Iím thinking about tapping today and Saturday. With the sporadic weather I donít want to miss out on too much.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Maine
    Posts
    1

    Default

    My first post to mapletrader. I've gleaned some good info over the 4 yrs i've been tapping, this to be the 5th, Lord willing. I do about 30 taps here just north of Portland. Mostly reds but a friend of the family has offered a few nice looking sugars this year. Reading with interest folks tapping now and the weather being so warm so early. I won't be able to tap until mid Feb so I'm hoping that the weather will cooperate with that plan. I'm using one of Vermont Evap's barrel stoves with the 20x30 pan (https://vermontevaporator.com/). Served me pretty well. Last year I cooked up a homemade RO system going by this persons ideas (https://sites.google.com/view/mattat...aplesyrup/home). Man, did that make a difference! Removed so much water. Not super fast - i think it was processing about 2.5 gals per hr but just fine for a small backyard op like mine. This year I made a DIY vacuum filter for finishing based on ideas from youtube. Excited to give it a try as gravity filtering is a drag. Best of luck to all!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Hope, Maine
    Posts
    3

    Default Thanks for the RO link

    Quote Originally Posted by pcbmaine View Post
    My first post to mapletrader. I've gleaned some good info over the 4 yrs i've been tapping, this to be the 5th, Lord willing. I do about 30 taps here just north of Portland. Mostly reds but a friend of the family has offered a few nice looking sugars this year. Reading with interest folks tapping now and the weather being so warm so early. I won't be able to tap until mid Feb so I'm hoping that the weather will cooperate with that plan. I'm using one of Vermont Evap's barrel stoves with the 20x30 pan (https://vermontevaporator.com/). Served me pretty well. Last year I cooked up a homemade RO system going by this persons ideas (https://sites.google.com/view/mattat...aplesyrup/home). Man, did that make a difference! Removed so much water. Not super fast - i think it was processing about 2.5 gals per hr but just fine for a small backyard op like mine. This year I made a DIY vacuum filter for finishing based on ideas from youtube. Excited to give it a try as gravity filtering is a drag. Best of luck to all!

    Thanks for the RO link. It looks worth giving a try (especially if someone here has already had success with it!). Let us know how the vacuum filter works.

    Looking forward to another season and finding excuses to be outdoors this time of year--
    Using it as an excuse to be outdoors and because it tastes better. Boiling 3 times a year and only in great weather.

    2018--10 taps 1.5 gallons on a propane lobster pot
    2019--20 taps, with Vermont evaporator barrel, 3 gallons
    2020--25 taps, with Vermont evaporator barrel, hoping for 5 gallons

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
    Location
    Nashville, MI
    Posts
    352

    Default

    Welcome to the trader and glad you have been bitten by the maple bug. You'll get some good sugar content off the sugar maples. Good luck this year.
    2004 - 2012 2x3 flat pan 25 to 60 taps
    2012 2x3 new divided pan w/draw off 55 taps
    2018 - didn't boil surgery - bought new evaporator
    2019 new SML 2x4 raised flue high output evap. 65 taps
    made 17 gal syrup
    2020 - only put out 53 taps - made 16.25 gal syrup
    2021 - going for 50 bags and 50 on tubing

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Mount Vernon Maine
    Posts
    121

    Default

    I like Troytravels by-line about maple being an excuse to be outdoors, it tastes better, and boiling in good weather. I subscribe to the same plan.

    I missed the run this past weekend due to several items, but I will likely tap the 8th or 9th to get ready for perhaps warmer weather the first of the week.

    I came across a couple of tapping tidbits in the Maple Sugar Book written by Helen and Scott Nearing. They conducted some tapping experiments in 1942 tapping trees in December, January, and February. Later they tapped trees in October and every subsequent month to April. In all cases they had the same following results:

    1. Whenever there was a thaw following a freeze-up, sap ran. Autumn or winter, and spring.

    2. Tapholes bored in December or January flowed freely in March and into April until there was a prolonged warm spell.

    3. Trees tapped in October and November were still running sap the following March, though the quantity was less than tree tapped in the spring. Some tree tapped in December and January yielded as much sap in April as those tapped in February of March.

    4. They gathered sufficient sap to make syrup in every month from November to April.

    I guess this gives me permission to tap earlier than I usually do. I apparently can't hurt anything in the process or ruin my chances for good run later this spring!!
    2x4 concrete block arch with three steam trays
    Separate warming stove/steam tray
    2016 12 taps, 3 gallons
    2018 15 taps, 7 gallons
    2019 38 taps, 13.6 gallons
    2020 40 taps, 13.7 gallons
    Mostly sugar maples, a few reds on 200 year old homestead

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Central Maine
    Posts
    9

    Default

    I am just outside of Waterville and have been making syrup in the yard for about 10 years now. It started with as a fun thing to do with my daughters. We lugged buckets to the turkey fryer and made a couple gallons that first year. Then it quickly became something that dad did by himself, although, I did get some bucket help along the way. I moved up to a 55 gallon barrel evaporator and then a 275 drum made into an evaporator with two flat pans covering the roughly 2 X 5 opening. Made all of those myself. I also managed to upgrade to a 10 X 16 sap house with the traditional cupola on top. Two years ago had about 100 taps out mostly on buckets and made 12 gallons. Skipped last year because we still had plenty and I was otherwise busy. Tapping mostly reds in a swampy area, but some sugar maples on the lawn. It has become something my friends and family look forward to as well, stopping by for a day and helping with a boil. They are always amazed at how much beer it takes to make good syrup I really enjoy the challenge of making my equipment plus it helps keep expenses down. Mostly give my syrup away to friends and family so no income in it - it's just for fun.

    I joined Mapletrader several years ago, but haven't been on here much for a while. I was happy to see info on the more cost effective upgrades. Just bought a Shurflo and getting that set up to try this year. Got a good spot with 17 or 18 taps I can get to it pretty easily. If it works out well, I may try going deeper into the woods with another next year. I am also planning to build the vacuum assisted filter setup this year as waiting for the syrup to drain through a filter drives me crazy. I have also been all over the internet pricing parts for an RO.

    Should be at about 100 taps again this year by the time I am done getting them all out. The other upgrade I really want to make is a drop flue back pan. Several years ago I read Big Eddy's posts about making his. I have made the brake, but opted for a flat one first to get going. Now I need to finish that effort and make the drop flue. We welded up my flat pan in friend's garage not far from you Mvhomesteader. It was done in Readfield.

    Very helpful people on here and I really appreciate the information and advice that has been shared. It is the kind of community you want to be a part of.

    Hope everyone has full buckets soon.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Farmington Maine area 44.6* N
    Posts
    54

    Default

    I'm on the fence this year on whether to tap or not. Have a couple gals. syrup from last year still.
    Will probably fall off the fence once I get antsy to get out and enjoy some warm and sunny days at the shack in March.
    Backyard Sugarin' since 1991
    Concrete block wood burner
    24 taps on gallon jugs
    2' x 2' x 6" SS pan
    5 gal. SS steamer pan for preheating
    89 Arctic Cat Panther sap hauler

    Making a few gallons syrup most years.
    Maple Baked Beans
    Maple Oat Sourdough Bread
    Maple Wine

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Plymouth,ME
    Posts
    31

    Default

    Cold this week, but next week looks pretty amazing. With my work schedule it looks like Iíll be drilling holes Monday. Anyone else planning the same?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2019
    Location
    Hope, Maine
    Posts
    3

    Default Today's the perfect day

    Today is the perfect day in midcoast--40 degrees and sunny--but we have snow tonight and a cold spell through the weekend. I'll probably take a day off and tap mid next week.
    Using it as an excuse to be outdoors and because it tastes better. Boiling 3 times a year and only in great weather.

    2018--10 taps 1.5 gallons on a propane lobster pot
    2019--20 taps, with Vermont evaporator barrel, 3 gallons
    2020--25 taps, with Vermont evaporator barrel, hoping for 5 gallons

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