2018sugaringseason
Weiss Woods of Plum Creek keeps track of the 2018 season
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April 2018
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04/23/18
April 23, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:39 pm

Weather is warm and dry - high in mid 60’s - but their is still frost in the ground and piles of snow on the north slopes so the trees have not started to bud out yet.  As Greg Pittmans says - as long as he can see snow on the hill behind his house the sap is not done running.   Today Jim and I took 110 gallons from the home woods and emptied the Harmon tanks of 438 more gallons to deliver to the Sugarhouse. Not much activity at Pittmans - Greg is holding the baby and thinking about starting the evaporator.   Paul Churchill showed up with this 91yr old father riding shotgun with a tanker of sap also. This is the first time we filled the Schwan’s truck tank at Harmons.  Since the hose end wasn’t placed into the sap it created a lot of foam which was coming out of the top of the tank when it was getting full. The sap is still good but running slowly since we aren’t getting a freeze at nite.  We started the vacuum at Harmons and it runs about from 10AM to 8PM.   The home woods vacuum is not run as much since we don’t get as much sap there.    As of now we are planning to remove the spiles this coming Friday and Saturday and clean up all of the equipment by Sunday.  Hopefully we can get about 1500 more gallons of sap so we can set a record.  Yesterday,  Brent, Lexi, Kevin, Jim and I attended the Pittmans pancake breakfast -  french toast, pancakes, smokies, strawberries, cookies, bars and blood mary’s were had by all to celebrate a successful sap season.  On the way home we helped Marlow load up 1,960 gallons of sap from the Harmon Tanks. 

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04/21/18
April 21, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:37 pm

The end of the season is getting close.  Temps today were a low of 30 and high of 60 so only ran about 400 gallons of sap today.  Expected to be warmer Sunday and Monday before cooling off a little.  Looks like we’ll be cleaning up next weekend.   Today Jim started the harmon vacuum but it would shut off after a few minutes since the vacuum would not come on.   After Jason came over he discovered that one of the glass covers on the exchanger cylinder had slipped down.   After reattaching the cover in the the correct position the vacuum ran as normal. Kevin pumped up the tires on the ATV and took a tour of the woods.  He found 2 branches down in the NE section.   Hopefully now we’ve found all of the problem areas.  I took the day off.  Tomorrow morning Jim, Brent, Kevin and Dave will be at the Pittman’s Pancake breakfast at this sugarhouse from 8 to 11.   Greg has this for his customers and sap suppliers. 

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04/20/18
4-20-2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:41 pm

Our hopes for a big sap day didn’t materialize.  The low was 25 and the hi was 54 but the sap only ran about 1/2 speed or less.  If we didn’t have the vacuum system we wouldn’t have got much sap today.   At 11:30 Marlow picked up another 3000 gallon tanker of sap from that ran from noon yesterday til noon today at Harmons.  Jim took down 550 gallons from the Home woods. We are now at 1765 gallons of syrup made from 58,000 gallons of sap.   Dave spent 3 hours checking lines in the Harmon woods.  Once again he found about 10 drops off,  a few leaks (easy to find due to the vacuum - the holes make a whistling sound until taped over with electrical tape) and one line apart in the far west section.  While driving the ATV down to the woods I noticed it was leaning to the left and upon inspection the left two tires were getting close to flat.  Instead of driving the ATV through the woods I walked.  Since it was very quiet I would take a few steps and then listen.  If I heard any whistling I would track down the sound and then fix the problem.  There was good vacuum in all sections except the far west.   We will have to put in a dry line to that section if we want to improve the vacuum level. Our goal is 25lbs. Some trees are done running so the end of the season is in site.   Two trees what were tapped with the old black health spiles were dried up.  That is why we now use new clear spiles each year.    Since the sap was running slow I decided to go home - Jim will shutoff the Harmon vacuum after the Twins game and we’ll just let the Home woods vacuum run out of diesel fuel.  The tank holds about one gallon and runs about 3 hours.   I’m going to take tomorrow off.  Brent will cover for me and help Jim if needed.  Hopefully we’ll get enough to set our all time record.   

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April 19 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:43 am

I spent my birthday in the sugarbush.  It was the nicest day of the sugaring season with high pressure,  sunny skies,  NW wind and highs in the lower fifties.   The trees cooperated and ran about 4000 gallons -   the vacuum was turned on at 10:15 and ran till 10:45 in the evening.   Dave arrived at the harmon pickup tanks and watched as the first 2 tanks filled to the brim waiting for Marlow to come with the 3000 gallon milk truck to pickup the sap.  Marlow arrived about 11:15 and we emptied all the tanks and brushed them clean.  It was then off to the woods to check lines with Bruce’s ATV.  Once again I found about 20 drops off (probably due to the trees wanting to keep running when the lines froze) plus 1 line had come apart from the weekend storm that blew down a large branch in the ravine below the outside dam. That took about 3 hours and then I went to see what Jim was up to at the homewoods.  He had just picked up the final 150 gallon tanker to fill the truck tank so we went to pittmans. I was going to pickup a new star for a leaking one but forgot to pick it up.  On the books we have now 55,000 gallons of sap and 1661 gallons of syrup so getting close to the record year of 2013. 

It’s been a good week since the big storm.  On Monday Brad and I uncovered the sap lines buried in 12 inches of snow and made sure all of the lines were in good running condition.  The sap started running Tuesday and we got about 2000 gallons Tues and Wednesday despite temps in the 30’s.   We believe the vacuum helps out in these cold condition by pulling the sap through the ice and helping it melt.  So far everything is working great.  
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04/16/18
April 16, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:30 am

The snow is finally done.  RF, Ellsworth and PC had about 12 inches.  Twin Cities had 17 inches, Appleton 16.5 and Green Bay had an all time record of 23.5 inches caused by Blizzard Evelyn. My sister Nancy and husband Greg flew into Appleton from ATL last night. Their car was froze onto the parking lot and they had to be towed loose.   It looks like mid winter with the only difference is that the cardinals are singing and the finches are flying about and eating a lot of bird food.   The roads are clear so today I’ll head to the sap woods with Brad to start clearing snow from the equipment and lines.   If the lines remain covered the sap will stay froze and not allow it to drain into our pickup tanks.  The sun is already peaking out and the high should be in the mid thirties so we should start to see a little bit of sap to run today.

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04/13/18
4/12/2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 11:53 am

The rain has started today and 8-14 inches of snow is expected by Sunday morning.  To prepare for the storm Jim and Dave built a wood frame around the diesel engine and vacuum pump in the Homewoods to keep it dry.  We used the plastic sheet from the Devils gate steel pickup tank to place over the wood frame.   We used wood pieces from Jim’s farm and used screws to hold everything together since the diesel engine creates a lot of vibration.  We started the vacuum pumps about 9AM. The sap ran slowly until the sun came out about 3 pm and ran till about 7.  We shut down the vacuum machines since we didn’t feel the small amount of sap being pulled was worth the trouble.  Dave checked the Harmons woods again with the ATV and discovered another 10 drops off and fixed 2 leaks.  There was no wind so any leak was easy to hear.  Hopefully all of the drops that had fallen off have been found now.   All in all it was a fairly good week.   No sap is expected until it warms up again on Monday the 15th. The weekend highs are forecasted to be in the upper 20’s.    The week of the 15th should have a good sap run since the highs will be in 40’s and the lows in the 20’s.  As of today we have collected 47000 gallons of sap and made 1425 gallons of syrup so the all time record of 1883 gallons is in sight.  The record occurred in 2013 and also ran to late April ending on the 26th.   

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04/11/18
4/10/2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:24 am

A cloudy day with a high about 37.   The sap started running about 1:30 and was done by 8 today.   The Harmon woods ran about 1500 gallons and the Homewoods about 300 so a slow running day but we were able to get sap.  To eliminate leaks on the Harmon cylinder collectors Dave placed a strip of electrical tape to seal the connection between the glass cover and the blue cylinder.   Up till now there was sap dripping from the cylinder until the vacuum was turned on. The tape worked.  To get ready for the rain/snow coming I screwed down the plywood sheet to sapsucker 1 to help protect the exchanger.  Then it was off to the Harmon woods - after getting Bruce’s ATV started I was able to check the woods again.  I once again found about a dozen drops that were disconnected from the spile.   Hopefully I’m finally caught up with this issue since I push the drop onto the spile as far as I can to have a tight seal.   Jim and I then took down a load of sap from the homewoods to Pittmans.  When arriving there Dave went with Marlow to pickup the Harmon sap.   Marlow manned the truck and I started the Pacer pump to move about 1800 gallons from the pickup tanks.  I brushed out both tanks during the draining process to make sure the incoing sap is of the highest quality.  The vacuum pump was started and we ran it till about 8:30pm.  It ran another 1400 gallons.  Jim and I rested the rest of the afternoon and watched the twins before I headed home.  Once again I had to dodge about 18 deer - I’ve never seen so many - on the drive home.  The night before I hit a small deer on the Hiway 72 rush river hill.  No damage since I was going slow and the deer rolled into the ditch and got up and ran away.   Tomorrow should finally be a good sap day with a low tonite of 28 and high tomorrow 48.  The normal high is about 55 so still below normal. 

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04/10/18
April 9, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:37 am

Bright and sunny but cool (about 38) so we started to get some more sap today after the week of below freezing temps. .   About 1700 gallons ran into the tanks.  Since tomorrow is supposed to be warm also we will deliver the sap to the sugarhouse then..   Since the trees tried to run on one day during the big freeze/snow  the pressure created by the trees blew off some drops and disconnected lines since the sap couldn’t run to the collection tanks.  We have some main lines running close to the ground and they were covered in snow.   When this happens the lines freeze up and no sap coming from higher up in the woods can move to the collection tanks which creates.  The 1.5 inch wet line running from the collection cylinder in the woods was froze up.   Dave had to walk across the creek and remove the snow covering the line.  By Mid afternoon the sap was moving through this line.   When the wet line is froze sap can still move to the Harmon collection tanks through the dry line which is attached to the top of the cylinder.  However,  this method does not get any vacuum up into the woods.  I spent about 4 hours inspecting the woods for disconnected or froze lines.   These were at least 40-60 drops off and 3 disconnected lines.   I also shoveled snow off about 4 lines so the sun could melt the frozen sap.  Once these were repaired the vacuum level rose to the level we want - about 23 lbs.  The vacuum was shut off at the Harmon tanks about 8:21pm when the exchanger was tripping every 2 minutes 20 seconds.   When the sap is running the best it trip every 46 seconds. 

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April 9, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:37 am

Bright and sunny but cool (about 38) so we started to get some more sap today after the week of below freezing temps. .   About 1700 gallons ran into the tanks.  Since tomorrow is supposed to be warm also we will deliver the sap to the sugarhouse then..   Since the trees tried to run on one day during the big freeze/snow  the pressure created by the trees blew off some drops and disconnected lines since the sap couldn’t run to the collection tanks.  We have some main lines running close to the ground and they were covered in snow.   When this happens the lines freeze up and no sap coming from higher up in the woods can move to the collection tanks which creates.  The 1.5 inch wet line running from the collection cylinder in the woods was froze up.   Dave had to walk across the creek and remove the snow covering the line.  By Mid afternoon the sap was moving through this line.   When the wet line is froze sap can still move to the Harmon collection tanks through the dry line which is attached to the top of the cylinder.  However,  this method does not get any vacuum up into the woods.  I spent about 4 hours inspecting the woods for disconnected or froze lines.   These were at least 40-60 drops off and 3 disconnected lines.   I also shoveled snow off about 4 lines so the sun could melt the frozen sap.  Once these were repaired the vacuum level rose to the level we want - about 23 lbs.  The vacuum was shut off at the Harmon tanks about 8:21pm when the exchanger was tripping every 2 minutes 20 seconds.   When the sap is running the best it trip every 46 seconds. 

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04/06/18
April 6, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:56 pm

Record cold high today (23F) and will be record low cold tonite  - about 5 degrees.  The wind was gusting to 35 mph and the snow was blowing across the roads.  APRIL???    Sap ran a little bit yesterday after overnite low of 8 degrees.  Homewoods had about 100 gallons and the Harmon Woods stayed froze.  We probably have some lines covered in snow or the collection cylinder is full of ice.  I’ll check that out when the temps rise on Monday after the next snow storm due Sunday.  Jim, Dave and Rip bottled 24 gallons for WW and 37 gallons for Rip today.   Pittmans bottled 18 cases of glass pints and Rip will also bottle another 40 gallons of B this PM.  Jim and I left at noon to put some hot water on the harmon woods sump pump to free  it from the ice in the dump tank.  I also tied up the pump to keep it out of the ice so it can pump sap on Monday.  The hot water treatment worked.  After unloading the syrup in the milkhouse warehouse Dave drove the Viking to the pickup tank in the homewoods.  The tarp was still in place to protect the vacuum equipment and there was about 170 gallons of sap in the tank.   We’ll get that picked up Monday when the sap starts running again.  We all can have the weekend off since no sap is running and the bottling is done.   Yesterday our Brother Doug had surgery to resection a part of his small intestine.  Hopefully he’ll be home by Monday. 

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04/02/18
April 2, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 6:45 pm

Cold Front and Snow.   The sap season has ground to a halt starting Saturday March 31.   Temps are in the upper 20’s/low 30’s (20 degrees below normal) and lows this week are expected to be in the single digits.  Today and tomorrow we are getting 6-12 inches of snow.  It will warm up after a week and then we can continue the season and hopefully get 2000 gallons of syrup if it doesn’t warm up too fast. . On Saturday we emptied all pickup tanks (temp was 30 in the morning and continued to drop all day and froze the slush to ice) and closed them down for now.  As of today we have made 1159 gallons of syrup from about 38,000 gallons of sap. Today Jim emptied the Harmon Woods small  dump tank on the sap wagon and turned off the heater.  No use spending money to heat the exchanger if no sap is expected for a week.  The harmon woods is running better than the home woods with almost 1 quart of syrup per tap to date.  .21 vs .17 /  gallon. Tomorrow I’m heading to Plum City to pickup my Chevy truck from Kent’s Auto.  Last Friday the fuel pump died in front of the the Legion Hall in Plum City.  Easter was April 1st and the spring elections are April 3rd.  No more sap news this week. 

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03/29/18
March 29, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 1:12 pm

Another cold front came through last nite and dropped the temperatures to 20 degrees from a high of 52 yesterday.  Todays high will only be the upper 30’s and we are expecting highs in the lower 30’s over the coming weekend. The cold weather is expected to continue through mid April.  This means no large sap runs starting this weekend but we should get some to run in the afternoons.  Looks like this could be one of the longest running seasons ever.  Since we have vacuum the tap holes should remain open until the trees bud out.  This year  Easter sunday is April 1st - about as early as it can get. Since the temps will be too cold for sap everyone will be able to celebrate Easter with their families. The sap ran good yesterday - the Harmon woods vacuum was started at 9:30 and by 3:20 we had about 2600 gallons of sap in the tank.  The Home Woods vacuum was started at 10:15 and by 4 pm we had filled up the truck tank - 575 gallons. After 4pm low pressure was moving in and the sap run lost it’s steam as the cold front moved through.  I gave a tour of the operations (Harmon Woods, sapsucker #1 and Pittmans sugar house) to Roy Oscarson of Hudson.  He is a hobby sugarmaker and had heard about our commercial operation so wanted to see how we handled 5000 gallons of sap per day.  I drove Bruces ATV down to the woods,  brushed out the Harmon pickup tanks when Jason and Marlowe drove over the milk truck to pickup the sap and gave a tour of the sugarhouse, bottling room and storage room at Pittmans.  As of yesterday Pittmans has made 89 barrels of syrup so they are about  1/2 way to their goal of 200 barrels. 

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03/26/18
3/26/2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 7:46 pm

There was about 1inch of snow overnight but the temperature did drop to 28 and the sap had a short run from 11:30 to 4pm today after the temperature raised above freezing but stopped running once a cold rain started.  The cool spring continues and we are expecting the sap to continue to run until mid April.  As of today we have collected about 28,000 gallons of sap which has resulted in about 800 gallons of syrup.   The sugar content is still averaging 2.6% and the taste is exceptional.   Pittman started boiling about 4am today since he received 25,000 gallons late yesterday.  With today’s smaller run he should catch up this evening.  Since they syrup is a very nice medium amber Jim, Roger Gilles and myself bottled 104 gallons of syrup into various sized containers today.  The syrup is piped directly from the evaporator to the filling kettle. We always like to bottle this way since I believe the taste and color is better than reheated syrup. On Sunday Kevin started the Harmon sapsucker for the first time.  He reported that the sap receiver was filling every 46 seconds which is about 400 to 500 gallons per hour.   To date the sapsuckers have all worked great and we continue to check now for small air leaks to keep raising the vacuum level to the goal of 23.  Brent and Kevin spent 3 hours sunday checking the Harmon Woods.  There is still about a foot of snow on the ground in the woods so there is plenty of moisture to keep the sap running since there is no short term warmup in site. 

on March 23 we picked up Bruces ATV from Plum City Service.   Bob charged us $255.49 to get the ATV ready.  Dave drove the ATV from PC to Jim’s farm and on Saturday Vinny drove the ATV to the Harmon Woods.  We will keep the ATV there so you can use the ATV to drive to the woods from the Bins. It will save us a lot of time plus it’s nice to have Bruce with us in the spirit of his ATV.  
March 24th was cool with a high of only 40 late in the day but we still got our usual 3000 gallons of sap. A higher volume of sap ran Sunday. 
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03/23/18
3/22/2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:04 am

Sap started running at 11:30 AM today. In 3 hours 1100 gallons had run at the Harmon’s tanks.  High pressure resulted in a fast start. Temperatures were 20 and 44.   It was a perfect sap day with sun and no wind.   Sap stopped running about 7:30 PM and we ended up with 3000 gallons at Harmons and about 750 from the Home Woods. Sugar content is remaining constant at 2.7 for Harmons and 2.4 for the Home woods. I fixed more small leaks in the Home Woods and replaced the star on the east side of the road by Bill Hill. Current vacuum level is about 15 and we are trying to get it to 20.  The Harmon vacuum is remaining stable at 23 lbs. Our new vacuum system is exceeding our expectations and now we just need to fine tune it.   The maximum amount of sap per tap is about 35 gallons based on research by the University of Vermont Procter research center and we hope to at least get 20 gallons per tap this year.  Dave was in charge of sap collection today and drove Jim’s John Deere tractor to pickup the home woods sap and deliver a truck load of sap to Pittmans without incident.   The only issue today was that the transfer tank valve was left open when Jim picked up a load of sap from the home woods at 7pm.   We lost about 10-20 gallons.  Jim drove bus for the Plum City Schools in the afternoon.  The short term weather outlook is for the sap to run each day since a large Hi pressure ridge to the NE is keeping storms and warm weather to the SW of us.  

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03/21/18
March 21, 2018
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 4:09 pm

The 2018 sugaring season is off to a good start. Before the sap started running again today we have collected about 11,200 gallons of sap which made about 333 gallons of syrup through March 19th.  Minimal sap ran the 20th and 21st. The sugar content is averaging 2.57 which is 17 per cent higher than last year and the highest since 2014 which was 2.36.  Last Fall and early winter Jim and Dave worked to prepare the woods for vacuum systems to increase the amount of sap collected.  We are hoping to increase sap output by at least 25% vs using the previous collection system. All tees with  end caps were removed and replaced with sealed red/green tees,  new clear spiles installed on all drops, redid the remaining sap lines in the Harmon woods to add in new trees and install shorter lines to the main lines and trenched in 1200′ of double 1.5 inch drain lines from the edge of Patnodes woods to Patnode Lane,  Also coordinated projects to have Excell Energy install electrical service to Patnode Lane and for Pittmans Maple Syrup to make custom vacuum systems for the home woods and the Harmon woods.  The Home woods vacuum is powered by a one stroke diesel engine and the Patnode Lane vacuum is powered by an electric motor.  The vacuum pump is from Jim’s dairy operation.  So far we have paid Backwoods Electric  $1299.63 to install electrical service and $1200 for trenching the drain lines. We are planning that the vacuum systems will be paid for by the extra sap collected.  Both vacuum systems worked when started up - gauges showed 23lbs for Harmons and 15lbs for the Home woods.  We installed insulation on the drain pipes where they come out of the ground and also used a milkhouse heater inside the sap wagon when the temperature dropped below freezing so the transfer sump pump would not be encased in ice. We will continue to monitor all sap lines to find air leaks to keep the vacuum as high as possible - the theory is a 5 - 7% increase in sap output for each lb of vacuum difference. 

We tapped the Home woods on March 3rd and the Harmon Woods March 10th and 11th. There was about 12 to 18 inches of snow on the ground so snowshoes were used where possible.  On most days the sap did not start running until  about noon and stopped about 7pm since we have had sunny weather with east winds. We are expecting the sap to start running again on Thursday March 22.  
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03/19/18
Welcome!
Filed under: General
Posted by: @ 8:21 pm

Welcome to your new blog! This is the first post. Edit
or
delete it, then start blogging!

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