It all began in 1990 when we decided to buy a sugar camp located in T5 R20 Wels on Great Northern Land in Somerset County by the St-Zacharie Gate on Golden road near the Canadian Border. At the time we had 6,000 maple taps. This small sugar bush gave us much heartache, especially since it was located a mile from the only accessible road. During a whole year we experienced many adventures sometimes fun other times less. Somerset County is the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States.
However, since then we have been able to start a new in a location on Dole Pond, thus giving us the idea to call it “Dole Pond Maple Products". It has become a family business and our children have been helping us since 1996. Before our relocation to this site there had been 6 maple sugaring outfits working the same area, nevertheless the sugaring camps had ceased operating for 25 years.
The building of a modern maple sugaring camp was a great challenge for us because we had to do everything ourselves from the installation of the tubing and taps to the preparation of the boiling room and its equipment. We transformed a building bought from the "Dumas Logging Cie".
Hence imagine the labor that had to be done. We started by cleaning and painting everything as well as preparing the cottage for our family. Then we cleared paths for our tubing. Once that was done we installed 65,270 feet of size 1" tube, 300,000 feet of size 5/16 of an inch as well as 16,600 chutes. The first year was very difficult because we had a lot of word and only a little time in which to do everything to get ready for the 1997 sugaring season. But with no doubt the most difficult part was lifting and tightening the 10,000 feet of size 3" tube in place from one end to the other of the sugar bush.
Once the season begins the sap arrives at our camp in a mechanical sap extractors and falls into our storage tank inside the cabin. If it became too full the sap will then start dumping into one of the 3 five thousand gallon exterior tanks or the seven thousand gallon tank. Then the water is processed through a Lapierre separator where four membranes successfully separate 2,000 gallons of sap in an hour. Then the remaining sap which is now more pure is boiled on a Dallaire boiler (6"X 18") which consumes 26 gallons of oil per hour but the product which remains is a pure delicious golden maple syrup. The electrical energy needed is 130 KVA by a PERKINS generator and two generators 37 KVA to run the pump house.
We begin tapping the trees around the middle of February and finish around the middle of March. Afterwards if the temperature is cool enough we thoroughly inspect the whole pipeline to see if is straight enough. During this period I hire three workers full time along with my spouse and children during spring break. Thus this sugaring crew is made up of eight workers during the tapping season. My oldest daughter began tapping when she was only 12 years old. At that time, my second daughter helped by taking care of her younger brother and sister. As you can surely see this is a family with a lot of helping spirit.
Once this major task is over we keep only one full time employee and another one part-time. When we begin the boiling process we each have our own assigned tasks. My spouse boils the sap and I make sure the separator and the water dumping is done correctly. Our full time employee takes care of cleaning pans, making sure there aren't any leaks and ensures the preparation of the drums.
Usually the maple sap starts flowing around the 17th of March and end towards the end of April. We generally produce a barrel and a half of syrup each hour. We need 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. During our best day, so far, we produced 22 barrels of syrup (equivalent of 660 gallons). We produce 8,000 gallons of pure maple syrup every year.
During the sugaring season there are only two weekends when we can invite our friends and families to our sugar bush. These two weekends are before and during Easter. In other words we cannot have visitors during any other time because we are located on the Golden Road and this area is only accessible through a private gate not a customs gate. Therefore the only people allowed through this gate are workers and owners of the sugar bushes located on this road as well as the loggers.
For the time being we have 30,000 taps and are happy that we are able to increase our number of taps each year. So far we have close to 120,000 feet of size 1" tubes, 10,000 feet of size 2" tubes, 500,000 feet of size 5/16" and 25,000 feet of size 3" tubes. We have two pumping systems that push the water up hill to the boiling room each equipped with a generator and a vacuum.
We are considering the possibility of eventually increasing our taps to 40,000 maples and developing new markets for Maine's maple syrup in retail, wholesale and bulk sales.
In 2015 - 2016, we have 37,000 taps and we made about 12,000 gallons of pure organic maple syrup.
We changed the oil evaporator for wood pellet evaporator and we have two osmosis reverse. We added a new building for the wood pellets.
Our son Alex is now a fulltime partner and manager with us and we again have a lot of projects for the future... You will see!