May 2012: this was the beginning of Ripple Rd. Maple. Our sugaring roots go back much farther in time; over 30 years to be exact, but this was the year we would venture out on our own and invest solely in our own operation.
There were two main reasons for this change. The first is that it would allow us to not get behind in daily household tasks. The new sugarhouse would be built on our property with all the sap coming directly into the sugarhouse. This would eliminate the need to gather it, which would save us a tremendous amount of time. The second is that we were starting a family, with our first child due in May of that year. By making this move, it would allow us to more efficiently make our living.
Looking back now, it’s hard to believe what we accomplished in the short amount of time between sugaring seasons. We literally went from nothing to a completely functional operation in eight short months (with a newborn thrown into the mix)!
We broke ground on our new sugarhouse in May 2012. The original structure was 30’ X 48’ (we added on another 20’ two years later). The dirt work, excavation, well and septic we hired done. Everything else was done by us. We completed the dirt work and foundation in May and poured the floor in June. The rest of the year was spent alternating between building the sugarhouse and setting up the woods with the tubing infrastructure to bring the sap back to the sugarhouse (we have over 40 miles of pipeline in our sugarbush).
All the equipment was ordered in the spring and arrived early in the fall. By that time, we had the sugarhouse closed in and most of the electric and plumbing completed. After the interior walls were finished and painted, we were ready to install the equipment. The reverse osmosis (removes a large percentage of the water from the sap before boiling) had to be hooked up with electric and plumbing. The evaporator had to be installed. Tanks had to be set. The vacuum pumps had to be hooked up and plumbed into the sap extractors (hold sap under vacuum and release into the tank by float). All the pipelines coming into the sugarhouse from the woods had to be hooked into the sap extractor.
By the time all this was completed, it was mid-December. Almost time to start tapping the trees for the upcoming 2013 sugaring season. The only thing left to do at this point was install 5,000 droplines (short piece of tubing hooked to a T that goes directly to the tree). We finished this task in mid-January and started tapping on January 21, 2013.
In eight short months, we had completely constructed a 1500 square foot sugarhouse inside and out, installed all the equipment, and built a tubing infrastructure in the woods that would carry 5600 taps back to the sugarhouse for our inaugural season!
Looking back, it does not seem possible. During those eight months there was no days off, many days were worked 16-20 plus hours. When you want something bad enough anything is possible! This is how Ripple Road Maple came to be!