In the beginning. . .
We built our log cabin in 2006, with the intention of enjoying a comfortable get-away for skiing, cycling and simply spending time with our family. Never did we expect to be making maple syrup! While visiting a farmer's market not far from our cabin, we met a kind-hearted, retired engineer and his wife while purchasing maple syrup from their booth. They shared with us a little about their business, and we were intrigued. We were invited to visit their sugar house and see the process up and running. Could it really be that easy? Just drill a small hole, hang a bucket, and boil, boil, boil to a defined density? We were curious, so gave it a try. We produced 6 cups of what we thought was syrup, more than a little thin, but we were hooked. We obviously needed to hone our skills, and kept in contact with our new friends.
And we evolve...
Over the next few years, we graduated from boiling in stock pots on the kitchen stove, to propane and a turkey fryer, to a large syrup pan over a hard wood fire. We were tapping plenty of trees by this time, and found that we were creating a backlog of sap buckets waiting their turn to be boiled. The process was incredibly time consuming. We were now more technical, using some sensitive thermometers and a hydrometer to make sure our syrup was the proper density so that we could be legally selling it as syrup.
When determining the best process to make maple syrup, it is often debated if syrup making is an 'art' or a 'science'. Amy, who studied the sciences in college, and John, who studied the arts, often engage in verbal rhetoric about just this subject. If you heard the tone and volume, you might even call it an argument. For the sake of this website. . . we decided it is a passionate discussion between two educated people who temporarily lose their minds and display childish behavior. In the end, it all seems to work out, as long as John gets his way (big baby!).
It was time to turn our focus to a name for our business and the style for our packaging. Ironically, as we were hiking through the forest tossing around ideas we heard the familiar jackhammer sound of the Pileated Woodpecker. And there it was - boom! The Pileated Forest was born! So, what would a bottle of maple syrup from the Pileated Forest look like? The most distinctive feature on this species of woodpecker is the brilliant red crest across the top of their head, sweeping down the back of their necks. You'll see that the top of our bottles are hand dipped in red wax, to reflect the Pileated Woodpecker's distinctive red crest.
Time to scale up...
With the demand for our syrup increasing, we outgrew our equipment and decided to scale up. This meant both a commercial evaporator, and as importantly, a building to put it in. With the help of our friend Freddy the architect, we designed our sugar shack. During the summer of 2014 we had family and friends volunteer to help with the construction.
Our Sugar Shack!
We now find ourselves looking forward to the few weeks in the spring when the nights are freezing, the days are warm, and the sap flows freely from the trees. We have good years with an abundance of sap from the most generous of our trees, and other times when Mother Nature just doesn't want to cooperate. Not a problem. We are happy with what our maple trees give us. As a very small syrup producing business, our mission is to keep having fun and to produce great quality syrup. So far, goal accomplished.