I've been at this beautiful lake out near Scranton for the past two weeks.The whole are a is beautiful here. This has been a rainy summer, and everything is so green. They told me there were no ripe blueberries just yet, but I figured out pretty quick that the low bush blueberries are definitely in season. (I've learned that the low bush blueberries are technically called huckleberries. Whatever you call them, they're delicious!)
There are nice houses all over and little ponds. Lots of empty warehouses though. As it turns out, any improvement a person makes to their property around here results in a huge tax increase. I'm not sure if that'd be enough to stop my dad from the constant "projects" around the house, if we had that in California.
Connor's mom has lots of family out here, and one of her sisters is married to a guy who makes maple syrup. This is what the operation looks like:
If you look between the trees there, you'll see blue tubes running between the trees and down to the main lines (black).
Apparently squirrels are a big problem, since they like to chew through just about anything. The other day, one chewed through the internet wire and put lots of people at the lake offline. He didn't survive the shock as well as a squirrel might do against a tube full of maple sap, but even I got a taste of what a nuisance squirrels can be.
Once it comes down from the trees, the sap is pumped into holding tanks such as these (above).
From there, it goes through the tube on the bottom left for reverse osmosis (above). The concentrated sap is then pumped up to the tank where the ladder leads to and is gravity-fed the rest of the way. The water goes into the white reservoir from the previous picture, to be used later in cleaning the reverse osmosis system.
This is the machine that actually turns the condensed sap into syrup. It cycles around in there for awhile making its way through different heating pipes, before being filtered off of the top somewhere on the right side of the machine. If you look closely, you can see the thin wires that run from the top of the contraption to the ceiling. These are so that the top can be easily lifted off. Luckily, there's a cleaning system in place such that the top never needs to be lifted off. It's basically like an inside-out dishwasher that gets placed inside the machine and cycles for a few hours.
And here we see the finished products! Lots and lots of bottles full of sweet maple syrup...
Below is the man himself (Roger) standing with the final product and his dog (Hunter), who he's trained to go after those pesky squirrels.
As much work as it all is, and as unpredictable as the winters have been, Roger seems happy with what he does. He's extremely knowledgeable about every part of the operation. He even assembled the syrup machine when it got delivered!
Thanks again to Marianne and Roger for having me up to see the place. It's a spiffy operation, and I'm honored to have had the opportunity to check it out!
Their website is here if you'd like to know more and/or see more pictures. There's a bit more to the process (and more technical terminology) than what I've included above, but that's the basic overview. Hope you enjoyed the ride!