Tapping Underway

Finally some moderating weather and we can start tapping. The snow is very soft which makes moving through the sugar bush very tiring. Snowshoes help but if the snow gets sticky it tends to pack on the snowshoes and adds to their weight.

We tap in teams of two people: one person to position the drop line and drill the hole, the second person to insert the spile and connect the drop line. The operation can be done by one person but the operator is continually changing tools from drill to mallet. Also the lead person, the driller, is breaking trail which is tiring and the two people can change places from time to time and ease the strain.

On a good day two people can insert about 800 taps, more if there is a crust on the snow to speed up the walking. The distance covered will be 2 to 3 miles.

Ordering Maple Syrup

It’s time to place orders for this year’s crop of fresh syrup. This year we have added a shopping cart page to our web site. We hope this helps your shopping experience.

A Poem by Ray

Tapping is a lot of work, each tree must have its tap, connected up with pipes and tubes, to collect the flowing sap.
Snowshoes are mighty handy, when snow's two feet on the ground, but they're not so good in bushes, or you have to turn around.
At last the trees are all tapped in, and we are set to go, we hope the sap will run and fill, our tanks to overflow.

The 2021 Season Begins

Welcome to our blog for 2021.We are pleased to announce that we will be operating again this year. We are very thankful to our many customers who have used our curb pick up, delivery and shipping services to purchase our products. Last year we made a bumper crop of maple syrup and aside from our usual inventory it is all sold. Covid 19 has in part been the reason for this as people are cooking at home and using more than their usual supply of maple syrup. We would be quite happy to go back to normal and be rid of this virus. Maple syrup and maple products are such a treat that they help to compensate for being shut in and so restricted in our normal activities.

It is too early to say if our camp will be open for visitors. We will of course maintain our curb pick up and other services and we may be able to open the trails.

The Kettle Boys and Shanty Men plan to operate but it is unlikely that they will be able to entertain visitors. Masks and social distancing will still be in force during the March-April season.

Our photographer friend, Jim Robertson, took some pictures in the sugar bush last week. The snow cap on the log gives a good idea of the snow accumulation to date.

Our largest, very tall maple tree is still dormant waiting for warm weather to wake up and once again provide a bounteous flow of sap.

10 Plus Inches of Snow
The Fortune Giant

Do you need syrup now?

We still have Amber, Dark and some Golden maple syrup in stock. We are still six to eight weeks away from fresh syrup so if you are running low we can provide a fresh supply to tide you over. Please contact us if you’d like to order some.

The Fall Colours are at their best

The arrival shorter daylight hours in late September triggers the shutdown of photosynthesis in the leaves of the hardwoods and the trees take on their brilliant fall colours. The colours this year are spectacular and worth a trip around the  roads in :Lanark County to see the display. Wolf Grove Road from Almonte to our farm at 2442 is one of the most colourful in this  area.

If you need  maple syrup we still have a good supply on hand and our camp is open from 10 am to  2 pm  on Saturdays for pickup .Calling  ahead to 613 256 5216  or email to info@fortunefarms.cawith your order  would be helpful. We also do local deliveries and pickup by appointment mid week.

We hope you find time to the beautiful autumn foliage.

 

Maybe Spring is Here

For the first time today the leaf buds are visible on many of the shrubs and trees. With a couple of warm days the leaves should appear and spring will have finally arrived. Last Friday I did some trimming on a maple tree and the sap was still running. Not too surprising  because of the frosty nights.The usual assortment of birds including the bluebirds are nesting around the house and sugar camp. The most enjoyable is a song sparrow that sings its melodious song in the morning as the sun is rising.

We are very pleased that our customers are using our pick up service to obtain their annual supply of syrup.We have made some deliveries in Ottawa and will continue to do so as long as there is sufficient demand.This week we will be open on the weekend Midweek we will set syrup outside the camp if it is preordered, prepaid and pick up time prescheduled. The best way to communicate is by email to info@fortunefarms.ca.We have Golden, Amber and Dark maple syrup, maple butter, maple sugar, maple mustard and maple vinegar available.

 

 

Washing the Lines Finally Complete

In spite of cold and rainy weather we have finished washing all the lines and the bush is buttoned up until next spring. There is always the job of regular maintenance and the risk of serious damage from a high winds or an ice storm.So we are never idle.

I mentioned that the wild flowers are starting to appear in the woods.They haven’t progressed very far  since last week.The picture is of the blossom on a leatherwood bush.They are not very large about 1/2 an inch or so and last only a day or two. The picture was taken by Jim Robertson  a family friend from Ottawa and very accomplished photographer. He had to time his visit just right to get this exquisite shot. Leatherwood is a small bush that grows under the closed canopy of a mature maple woodlot. It prefers a moist, protected site and may grow to seven feet in height.

Our camp is open daily from 12 to 1 for syrup pick up. Best to phone the camp at 613 256 5216 to check before making the trip.

Leatherwood blossom

Finally a Beautiful Warm Day

The cool weather over the past few days has slowed our progress in the sugar bush. With several degrees of frost the lines freeze as there is always some water remaining after draining and we have to wait each day until it thaws. We have 4000 taps washed and put to bed until next spring. Which leaves 3000 to go. One person can do about 100 taps an hour so it will take about 30 hours.  With three people working we should finish in a couple of days if the weather cooperates.

It’s really a great time of year to work in the bush. The hepaticas, the first spring flower to appear, are ready to blossom on the first warm day. The buds and blossoms on the leatherwood bushes are ready to burst. Leatherwood is so named because the bark is very pliable and can be woven into very strong flexible ropes. Next to appear will be the spring beauty and the dog toothed violet. The trilliums are just beginning to poke through the leaves. Best of all there are no mosquitoes or black flies.

We are open to day and tomorrow 10 to 3 for syrup pick up. Call the camp at 613 256 5216 to arrange you visit.

 

Update

Since my last blog we have been busy washing up at the camp and getting started on back-flushing the lines. The rainy cool weather is not the best for working in the woods so things are progressing slowly. Next step after flushing the lines is to pull the spiles and insert a small quantity of isopropyl food grade alcohol in each dropline to act as a sanitizer. Any remaining alcohol in the lines is flushed out next spring with the first run of sap. This sap is discarded. This system, which has now been in use in sugar bushes for about seven years, is fully approved by Health Canada and gives excellent results.

Meanwhile at the camp we have been delivering syrup on a pick up basis for pre-orders. Payment by credit card or e-transfer. We are able to maintain social distancing and the system seems to be working.

We have had to shorten hours due to shortage of help but we plan to be open daily 12 to 1pm for pick up. Please email your order so it can be packed ahead of time. Phone the camp at 613-256-5216 to confirm pick up arrangements.

We have all grades of syrup except Very Dark available. We also have maple butter, maple sugar, and maple vinegar.

No maple candies, maple fudge or tarts.

We much appreciate the very strong support being provided by our customers. This is a frustrating time for syrup producers as it has been a vintage year for maple syrup. Hopefully things will return to a more normal situation this summer and fall.

The Washing up Begins

Today we started the long process of washing our equipment, dismantling and storing the RO machine and back-flushing the lines. It’s the same amount of work regardless of the production. Fortunately we had another bumper crop, similar to 2019, so the cleaning up doesn’t seem quite so onerous.

The pick up of syrup outside the camp is working well. We plan to stay open  for nowon a  day to day basis but only from 12 to 1. It would be much appreciated if you would send an email confirming your order and when you plan to come. That way we can have your order ready for pickup.

Should the virus situation worsen we may have to close until the danger passes.

The Season is Over

Yesterday we finished processing the sap that ran on Friday and we are caught up. There was no fresh sap yesterday so we have declared an end to a long and very productive season. We will do our final tally and report later.

We were very pleased to see our resident male bluebird return to the bird box. We are not sure if he has a partner yet. A robin and a song sparrow are sining loudly and claiming territory as well. Very heart warming to see and hear the return of these birds.

We are open today for pickup outside the camp and pay by card or e transfer.

 

Season Winding Down

Although some sap was collected today the volume was much reduced from earlier in the season . The Monday night through Tuesday big run was a fitting end to what has been a bumper season. Very warm weather is forecast for the rest of the week which will melt the remaining patches of snow and may stimulate the tree buds to swell. At this point the sap begins to change and the syrup made from this sap has an unpleasant taste known in the industry as “buddy syrup”. Sometimes a late snowstorm and cold weather will reset the trees and  one last run of good sap is collected. About 40 years ago a local syrup producer and farmer recalled how one year early April was warm and dry and they were so busy planting crops that they did not remove their buckets. A snowstorm occurred and they were surprised to collect the biggest run of sap all season. Other local producers had collected their buckets and missed this windfall. He was still chuckling when he told me this story. We have not, over the years, experienced anything that dramatic.

Today’s syrup was Very Dark with the characteristic Strong flavour and we have enough to fill our back orders. There may be more this week  which will give us a small reserve .We stop producing at the first hint of “buddy syrup”.And then the washing up begins.

We are still open for pick up outside the camp.