We have had a very interested winter. In fact, we didn't experience true northern winter weather until this past month. The snow levels have been significantly lower than normal and the temperatures have been above normal many more days than not. As a result, we were able to get into the bush nearly a month sooner than normal. A few drops were recorded when Jennifer did our first tapping a couple weeks ago on February 6th (earliest tapping here ever!), but the trees are slow to wake up as we went into a deep freeze again just after that, so we haven't been collecting anything yet.
In other news, we welcomed a new boxer pup to the family this past winter. His name is Oliver and he has much to learn. Trail boss Farley has been showing him around the bush and getting to know his way around the sugar house.
In the next few weeks, stay tuned for Maple updates and a short video update of all the Sugar House post-fire repairs! Thanks to many generous donations, we were able to complete most of these last fall.
Michael & Jennifer
How did the season wrap up? We did ok.
Interesting this year as all our lines were on vacuum with the exception of one line of 10 taps, which were gravity fed to a barrel. The gravity line didn’t produce enough sap for 1 litre of syrup. The vacuum lines at least kept us average. So we have been able to fulfill all of our orders.
We are now 5 weeks post fire and wrapping the season up. Syrup has all been bottled, and deliveries are still going out with most people having picked up their orders already, and a few to be shipped out today. Thank you everyone for your orders!
We ran a fundraiser last week to help us rebuild the sugar house and had some amazing participation. As we finish cleaning up the equipment for the year, we will also be cleaning out the sugar house in preparation for the rebuild.
The project will commence with putting plywood over the evaporator to protect it, replacing any and all melted electrical wire so that we may re-establish electrical to the building. Then removing all charred and compromised wood and steel. Replacing them with new materials. Rebuilding the cupola and facing with steel sheeting. A spark arrestor will be added to the chimney.
There are a few improvements to the operation that we are intending to complete this summer, along with an expansion of the vacuum lines, and a transfer pump in the pump house to move sap up to the sugar house automatically.
I will post here as we complete some of the projects and add video updates to the YouTube channel as well.
Michael & Jennifer
We are not reinventing the wheel in this post. In fact, we are sharing an amazing recipe by American Chef Andrew Gruel.
To put our twist on it, we are upgrading the Maple Syrup to "Michael's Smoke Infused Maple Syrup".
Bacon Wrapped Scallops with Maple Butter
6 clices of bacon (center cut) par-cooked in an oven for 10 minutes at 350F
6 dry jumbo sea scallops
avocado oil, salt, fresh cracked pepper (save until end)
For the glaze:
1/2 cup Pure Maple Syrup
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
4 tablespoons butter
1 lemon juiced and zested
For complete instructions
Visit: Andrew Gruel
Turkey Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts with Maple Syrup
1 package turkey bacon
2 cans water chestnuts
Michael's Smoke Infused Maple Syrup
Wrap bacon slices (whole or half as needed) around each water chestnut. Hold in place with a toothpick.
Place in baking dish and Bake @ 350F for 25-30 minutes until bacon is cooked.
Remove from over, brush with Maple Syrup. Return to the oven for another 10min or until maple bubbles and becomes sticky! Remove from oven and Enjoy.
But be careful - they're hot!
photo credit: Karen Rankin Eating Well
Looking for a new twist on an old favorite this summer?
Check out this fabulous salad that works great as a side dish or as a luncheon meal.
Roasted Beet Salad with a Twist!
Roasted garden beets, sliced
Arugula or Spinach
Layer with Local goat cheese
Topped with broccoli sprouts
Drizzle with Michael's Smoke Infused Maple Vinaigrette
Smoke Infused Maple Vinaigrette
2 tbsp. Michael's Smoke Infused Maple Syrup
2 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Add to mason jar. Shake well. Pour over salad and Enjoy!
I was supposed to post this last night, but was so involved in bottling syrup that I didn’t get to it. We
have announced the silent auction, https://www.michaelsmaple.ca/syrup-silent-auction.html
Beginning May 1 you have the opportunity to bid on one of 10 Limited edition Michael’s Maple smoke
infused maple syrup. The auction runs through Friday May 5th and we will be updating the top 10 bid list
daily. So, as an added bonus, we are sharing 5 days of Smokey Maple recipes! We would also love to hear what recipes you enjoy making with your Maple Syrup! A shout out to my sister Miriam for helping kick off the recipe challenge with a drink suggestion.
Jennifer has now perfected the Smoke infused Maple and we will be trying more recipes this week!
I will also be posting a recipe for another main dish, a salad, and what meal would be complete without
a desert? Jump on the wagon and share your ideas! I am looking forward to hearing all the ways you
Michael & Jennifer
It has now been two weeks since the fire, and we have had some time to assess the damage, not only to
the sugar house and the sap, but to ourselves emotionally and those that pitched in to help us in the
original build just a few years ago. There are a couple of people in particular who really made the
construction the success and are a part of the life and story of the sugar house.
After our initial panic and worries about how we save the maple, several maple cohorts from our area
jumped in and helped to save the season. The local chapter members of OMSPA jumped right in from
clean up to even changing a tire on the mother in laws car. Sap got collected and boiled down. The
number of friends who came over and pitched in is overwhelming. As a result, we were able to
concentrate on securing the building and breathing.
The sugar house is now temporarily secured, burnt trusses have been braced and a tarp over the hole in
the roof where the cupola once stood.
Currently the hydro to the building has been shut off while we complete an assessment of wiring. We
know of one wire that was burnt off, and once that has been replaced and the rest inspected, we can
I have picked up our syrup and will begin bottling it over the next few days and you can begin picking up
your orders as of Thursday.
The two most often asked questions, did you have insurance? And how can we help?
No, the building was not insured. Thankfully the main structure is quite solid. We have 5 trusses to
repair (I am so glad we used trusses), and new roofing and cupola to construct install. And there will be
a day of pressure washing the floor.
As for help, we will be hosting a silent auction online, via the website. We will be auctioning off 10
500ml bottles limited edition 2023 smoke infused maple syrup.
Silent Auction details:
Submit your auction bid via email to email@example.com
In the Email Subject line type: May 1st BID $ (auction amount)
Each day by 8:00pm we post the top 10 silent auction bids for that day.
Should you wish, you can submit a new BID the following day to try and reach the TOP 10!
This continue for 5 days and on Friday May 5th, 2023 at 5:00pm, we will release the Top 10 Winners!
Thank you again for your prayers and support!
Michael & Jennifer
7:30 pm Sunday.
The smell of maple was now permeating the sugar house. The steam was rising towards the open cupola doors, and we were filling the firebox every 8 minutes to keep the rolling boil going. Yes, we need to fill the fire every 8 minutes. This is definitely a labor of love. Around 8 pm we were able to start drawing off the first batch of finished gold. And a little more about every 10 minutes. About 8:45 we started letting the fire burn down for the night. The plan was to spend a full day Monday boiling anticipating some warm weather and to make sure we had a good batch ready for Tuesday mornings tour. We cleaned things up for the evening and headed inside. As usual, I went out a little after 10 pm to make sure the fire was out, and to check the pans and sap flow. Shutting off the valve from the storage tank so that just in case a leak developed somewhere, we didn’t lose our sap.
All was quiet except for some teenage deer in the yard.
Monday April 10, 2023 - 4:55am
"JENNIFER, WAKE UP, THE SUGAR HOUSE IS ON FIRE!"
Mother nature woke me about 4, and after I couldn’t get back to sleep. Maybe it was the visions of maple dancing in my head, or the excitement of the boil. Reviewing check lists for the day, and thoughts of the event to come the next day. I decided to get up and get started. Thinking I would go out to the sugar house, and get everything prepped so that after breakfast Jennifer could light up the evaporator.
Close to 5am, I got up and seeing a flickering through the window I saw the flames at the back corner of the sugar house. My normally calm disposition changed in an instant. Disbelief, panic, and the “OH #$%&”
Jennifer was awake and dressed in an instant, I was on the phone to 911, getting the fire department alerted. Lists going thru my head and Jennifer's, what do we save, wait, move, (We do not have a water source in the sugar house, and use containers to carry it up). Jennifer went ahead on up to survey how far the fire had progressed. As soon as I arrived, she directed me to grab the recently filled propane tanks from the wood shed to get them out. Looking inside, the fire was contained to the cupola located above the evaporator. Burning debris was falling into the evaporator and being extinguished by the cooled syrup in the boiler. I was able to quickly go in and grab the propane tank by the finishing pan. There was almost no smoke inside as it was all in the roof area at this point. The fire cast an eery orange glow filled light through the door and windows. Within minutes, I turned around to the first fire truck arriving. The Chief was there beginning the plan of attack. Then another truck, and another truck. A main hose was already being stretched out and firemen seemed to appear all around us.
I turned around to answer some questions for the Chief, and the next thing I knew, two firefighters were already hitting the fire with water from below. In another few minutes they were attacking the fire from outside. Within minutes, the flames were extinguished, and the I think there were 2 firefighters on the roof pulling the cupola over to prevent it from falling down into the building. The appropriate but restraint use of water prevented significant amount of damage inside. In fact, the pile of boxes with new bottles ready for filling were less than 4 feet away from the falling ember and water and none of them received water damage.
The team then went into check mode, looking for any hot spots, or potential flareups. Since I have lived in this community, I have always had faith in the local fire department. I have now had the opportunity to witness them in action and can not praise them enough. Every member of this team knows their job, and what each other is doing. As a result, there is very minimal damage to the main structure, and the evaporator and related equipment is safe. By 6:30 am everything was packed up, and we were looking for coffee, and daylight to assess just what the damage was.
Tuesday morning. The Chief was back to conclude an investigation. We had already begun the cleanup, joined by another producer (Andy) and his family, we cleaned out the evaporator, the burnt pieces of trussing that had fallen and the initial loose pieces from the roof. The final result, this was not a chimney fire. This was a rogue spark that had come from the chimney and lodged against the (what was beautiful) wood siding of the cupola. Smoldering for many hours before igniting. A very very unique set of circumstances. His overall comment was that we had in fact exceeded fire and building code regulations with our construction of the building and as a result, the fire didn’t spread as quickly, likely saving it from complete demolition.
We are grateful for limited fire and water damage to equipment and the structure. Unfortunately, the repairs needed to create a safe space required us to cancel all tours and ended our boiling season. Another local producer has offered their sugar house to finish the remaining sap that we have collected and another will supply us with the remaining syrup needed to complete our orders for this year.
Stay tuned for further updates in the days to come.
Thank you again for your prayers and support.
Michael & Jennifer
WATCH “Maple Syrup Building Fire” video here for more images.
March 19, 2023
Good morning everyone!
Quick update from the sugar house. A few items to take care of before we start the boiling. Farley and I spent over 5 hours out in the bush on Thursday, and the snow depth back there is average waist high. Even on snow shoes I broke through in a couple of places, so I have it on good authority. Farley went thru as well, and was really quite worn out at the end of the day. He spent Friday on the couch recovering. I followed his example. Looking ahead at the weather forecast, and things are looking up this week. Warmer temps and rain on Wednesday should bring the trees to life.
I will be heading out shortly to give the trees their spring pep talk (Jennifer claims my speech is “produce or perish”) but I don’t actually use those words.
We have some very serious deer trails through the bush this year, a couple I have nicknamed the 400 and the 401. Probably due to neighbors feeding them. So far, no pipeline damage from the deer. We did have 4 taps and drop lines with squirrel damage. But simple to replace. We have changed some of the gravity lines over to the vacuum system, and reduced some of the buckets we have used in the past as well. Snow depth will be a challenge to collect from those this year.
Good morning everyone!
The tapping has begun! There are all sorts of projects and jobs to do getting ready for the maple season. Tapping is just one. Over the past week I have been cleaning the sugar house and getting it ready for production. The evaporator is ready to go, all that is left now is to finish reconnecting plumbing from the main storage tank. I have been out breaking trails in the bush just so we can get out to check lines and tap the trees. There is over 30” of snow in the bush, and this year it is a much heavier wetter snow.
We use an atv on tracks to bring materials out with us when we are tapping, adding lines, replacing drop lines as necessary, and collecting sap. We will hang about 50 buckets this year in one section of bush that we haven’t run any mainline to, and part of that is nostalgia. One of our neighbors to the east has been feeding the deer all winter, and the trails they have developed are amazing. The network of paths are all over the place. Though, they do seem to be thankful that I am grooming the main trails. Thankfully as I have inspected the near lines so far, there is no damage from the deer or squirrels, but I have only opened up the first 1/3 of the trails.
By the end of this week I should have all the trails groomed and useable, the taps in place, lines checked, storage tanks cleaned, vacuum pump installed and tested. The trailer for the gathering tank is out of the snowbank and ready to roll, and the new trail up to the sugar house for delivering sap has been groomed and is ready. We are almost ready for our first boil.
Mother nature threw a curve ball at syrup producers with a very early warm up. I think we got our January thaw in February, and producers in the south started getting busy. Over the last few years we have noticed this pattern of a warm up or almost a false start in February then a freeze up, and a gradual thawing late March break. We do not panic about trying to get those first few drops of sap, but keep a calm purposeful approach (except for Farley, who is racing around the trails and checking which way the deer have gone). He is quite aware of what time of year it is, and knows that neighbors will be coming to visit and he takes his job of greeter very seriously.
Just a thought here, if you haven’t placed your order for this years syrup, it would be wise to get that in soon. We have noticed a trend this year with people doubling their orders from last year.