wild millers

Hi Ed, so neat to have all those historic family photographs of your homesteading traditions. Thanks for sharing.

Like you, we focus on keeping our overhead costs down and sell all of our syrup through our farm store at retail prices. This is only our 5th season as first gen. syrup makers but we have built up our production debt free by investing back a little of the syrup sales each year. (It is tempting to over invest though! There is no end to the amount of money that could be spent on a sugaring setup!) I guess we have relied more on our youth and sweat equity to make up for the lack of specialized equipment purchases. Though we are small, 215 buckets, we rely on our own labor, our own firewood and collect using the team. At the end of the day all I have to make back now is covering our labor and the price of filters/bottles etc.

Last year we made 50 gallons or so and we hope to do better this year with a few more buckets, though by this time last year we had made about 15 gallons already. All of our syrup gets bottled in pint or quart containers so that it spreads out our limited supply to all of our CSA members and we get $11 a pint, $20 a quart which is much more worth our while than larger containers.

At this scale it is still a lot of fun for us and we are able to keep up with the other things that need attending to in the spring to get ready for our vegetable growing season to come. I find that is is incredibly good training for our young team since they get harnessed almost every day for 6 weeks or so, drive the same route, stop in the same places, stand and wait for me to collect buckets and their load gets progressivly heavier.

Because about a third of our taps are handy to our driveway, we can’t use a sled to collect sap because there is no snow on the pavement. So I will attach a few pictures of the rig we came up with for collecting. It works in the woods, where I have used our scraper blade to open a trail and it works great on the roadways. All in all it takes us about one hour from harnessing to unharnessing to collect all of our buckets with the team this way.

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