<![CDATA[Canadian Organic Maple Co. Ltd. - Blog]]>Thu, 25 Feb 2016 18:35:58 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Annual Fish Fry]]>Wed, 22 Apr 2015 23:56:06 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/annual-fish-fry1Last Friday we were delighted to welcome Bruce and Roxie Cheney for the annual fish fry.  Bruce is an old friend of Duane's and has been coming for years.  Roxie has a calm, steady feel about her.   Our sugarhouse could use this steady hand throughout the production period.  A keep calm and carry on approach to life.  Thank you, Roxie, for all your help with the fish fry.
Bruce cooks a mean piece of haddock.  He tells us the secret is scrunchions.  I have no idea if that is spelled right.  I know it is fried pork rind.  Flour your fish and dip in egg and then fry in the pork rind.  He had over 100 pieces of haddock from Charlotte county and potatoes from Carleton county.  Add to that carrots and turnip and you have a meal fit for kings and queens.  Several years ago, Carleton and Charlotte counties were combined to make a federal riding Carleton/Charlotte which was always referred to as the fish and chip riding. This wasn't a particularly sensible idea as the two counties are not side by side and the Member of Parliament had a fair amount of travel to cover both ends of the riding.
When Bruce first started coming to our sugary many years ago and was offering to do a fish fry, the crew was rather ho hum about the idea.  No one was going to turn down a free home cooked meal but steak barbecue is more the treat for good old Carleton county.  Well times have changed, when Bruce is frying fish now,  the snowmobiles are racing from the woods at breakneck speed to get back to the sugarhouse before the fish is gone.  It is a nice time for everyone to get together.  

We often have a few extra guests for this event.  This year Tony invited his wife Michelle and their three children.  Tony says during our heavy runs, he leaves before they get up and doesn't arrive back home until after they are in bed.  Glad they could join us. 
Now the wait is on for Fish Fry 2016!!
<![CDATA[A Late Start]]>Sun, 19 Apr 2015 17:14:44 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/a-late-startHats off to the employees of Canadian Organic Maple!

Maple season 2015, started late and also very slowly.  However this weeks things have really picked up.  The trees are offering generous amounts of sap and Duane and Steve are doing their usual magic of making a good high quality syrup.
The guys at the woods have been putting lots of steps on.  Everyone is working hard to find all the leaks.  The system is good and tight, thus resulting in good production.  

This is a very basic explanation of what I mean.  Think of drinking a milkshake through a straw.  If you have a hole in your straw, you have to work a little harder to get your milkshake.  Put several holes in your straw, and you have to work even harder.  To get a tight system takes a tremendous amount of work.  At this time of year, this means snowshoes.  We have fellows who are at this from early in the morning until the sun goes down and sometimes well after dark.  Because we have pipes and tubing, it would be reasonable to think that there is very little manual labour involved.  Not so, every tap is done by hand, and the same ground can be covered many times as sometimes taps pop out with the freeze and thaw, or an animal could bite a line or, or a brisk wind could pull something apart or sometimes I think tree elves do it just for fun.   This business is built around good employees.  

Once the sap gets to the sugarhouse, Devin works hard to get it through the reverse osmosis machines into concentrate so that Steve and Duane can evaporate it and turn it into syrup.  They sometimes work late into the night and the steps heading to the loft look pretty.
A big thank you to all employees!  You are the best!
<![CDATA[Still Waiting]]>Tue, 07 Apr 2015 05:00:40 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/still-waitingIn the Easter blog I mentioned that Good Friday is usually a good production day for us.  Well this is another example of Mother Nature deciding to snap maple producers around a little bit this year.  It turned out to be a pretty quiet day . Because there is not any significant maple production to report, it is what we call a slow news day.
You might call this blog a human interest story or perhaps a sports story or maybe as the reporters suggest a "breaking news" story.  You be the judge.
Duane and Steve
For those of you who have read previous blogs, you already know that Duane Stephenson is the manager of Canadian Organic Maple.  This is his day job.  He is a man of many talents.  He writes scripts, has the lead role and actually films short movies.  The only other person who would come close to this skill set would be Clint Eastwood and I doubt that he would know one end of an evaporator from the other.  Take a look at the video below and you will see what I mean about his movie making talents.  I debated for a long while before I actually decided to release this information as I was afraid that Hollywood might get wind of it and we would lose a darn good manager and sugar maker.
<![CDATA[Easter Weekend]]>Sat, 04 Apr 2015 23:19:57 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/easter-weekend1I saw the Easter bunny!

Well I didn't actually see the Easter bunny but I have a picture of him and if you look carefully you can see the blueline in the background.  Gus and Levi saw the Easter bunny 2 years ago on the night before Easter when they were out checking pumping stations.  But no proof!  I am not questioning what they THOUGHT they saw but you can not publish a comment like that without proof.  This has been a little bit of a sore point ever since.  Well, Gus came to the sugarhouse waving his phone at me with a triumphant look and his face and sure enough there it was.  A photo of the little fella himself, hiding behind one of our trees.  How exciting.
Easter is usually a busy time for us as often we get good runs at Easter.  Last year our best run of the season was on Good Friday.  Our family usually gathers at the sugar woods and we enjoy our Easter celebration together and we are close enough to help spell the crew.  

Every year I spend time "hoping" the sap will run, "wishing" the sap would run and finally "willing" the sap to run.  And every year at some point the light comes on and I realize that these trees have been offering sap for hundreds of years before we came to this forest and will continue to offer sap long after we are gone.  So relax and enjoy the pleasure of being in this unique spot and accept the gift that Mother Nature offers.  

Happy Easter everyone, may the Easter Bunny find you.

<![CDATA[2015 Maple Update]]>Thu, 02 Apr 2015 15:45:15 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/2015-maple-updateEvery year I vow that I will get at the blogs earlier and every year it is hit and miss. Unfortunately more misses.

On Saturday July 5, 2014 we were hit by post tropical storm Arthur. I don't think I had ever heard much about post tropical storms, I probably thought they happened in the tropics. Arthur ripped through our sugary for about three hours. We expected some damage, thought perhaps a few sections might have been hit. To our dismay, Arthur hit areas in every section of the bush.

Fast forward to April, and we have cleaned up, and repaired much of the bush. Our tap count is down. Our maple trees were leafed out and were susceptible to the high winds. Several thousands were uprooted. We have not managed to get to every area yet, some areas are operating but will require significant effort to get them back in top shape. Thank you to a great crew who have been working at cleanup and repair since July.
Mother Nature has been tricky all year. East coast Canada has experienced several Nor'easters this winter. It would seem there were a few weeks during the winter that it was about 2 per week. Snow cover is not a problem. We were happy not to have an early start as we were racing against time to get as many areas as possible up and running. However, now we would really like to get this show on the road.

We have had a few very slow runs and it has allowed us to get all the equipment up and running. Speaking of getting equipment running. This is not my area, don't know anything about it BUT what happens to this stuff over the summer? At the end of the season, everything is running. The guys repair and service it, start it up in the early winter, everything is great. The minute the sap starts to run and you need it, there are filter problems, alternator problems, and a bunch of other stuff that I don't even know the name of problems. So thank you Mother Nature for starting slowly but you can kick it up a notch now!

<![CDATA[Mysterious Visitor at Canadian Organic Maple]]>Wed, 06 Mar 2013 21:50:17 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/mysterious-visitor-at-canadian-organic-mapleYesterday as I was snowshoeing through the woods I happened upon this fellow.  I had seen him from a distance before but never could seem to catch up to him.  This fellow really loves snow you can tell.  He travels so quickly through the woods that you think you might have imagined him.  I had thought wow, he could really cover a lot of ground.  It would be great to have him on our woods crew. 

A pleasant looking fellow
Last winter we had seen two youngsters frolicking in the snow Easter Morning.  I got a quick picture of them.  I can certainly see the resemblance to this chap shown above. 

Children Playing in the snow
I had noticed that when I saw this fellow in the past it was usually March and the snow was sticking on the trees.  Within a short time the trees would offer sap.  I am not sure if he is a bit magical or what. 

Nice to have the extra help
 He had a tapping vest on, a drill and a drop line but Duane had not mentioned that he had hired anyone new, plus I was pretty sure that our taps were in.  He said he was just putting in a few that got missed.  Friendly fellow, but I couldn't seem to get much information out of him.  He declined an offer of lunch in the sugar house and said he preferred to be outside.  I turned my head away and he was gone in a flash. 

I asked Duane who this new fellow was and he was stumped.  Whoever you are.  Thanks for the help! 

<![CDATA[Two Questions]]>Tue, 05 Mar 2013 03:36:07 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/two-questionsTwo questions I am asked this time of year. When is maple season going to start? When will it be over? Two very good questions and if anyone can answer them, please call the sugar house immediately! Last year we started March 8th; one year our first boil was February 25th; March 14th started us off one year. The list goes on. So to answer the question, who knows?

Our first year of production, we did not start until almost the end of March and produced into early May.  Stress levels were very high, we were afraid that perhaps we had a special kind of sugar maple that didn't produce maple syrup. I am not saying it was a rational thought but it did cross our minds. 
I guess this is what makes maple season so interesting. There is much folklore out there to answer these two questions but it seems that conditions are never the same two years in a row. I guess it boils down to this, it starts when mother nature says "START"
Megan and Ben have joined our crew this year. They are both recent graduates of The Maritime College of Forest Technology. We welcome their expertise to Canadian Organic Maple and it is a pleasure to have another female on staff. Megan and Ben are both working hard to GPS areas of the sugary as well as tapping, repairing lines and like the rest of us doing what needs to be done. We are just getting to know Megan. Ben helped us out from time to time while he was in high school. He has always loved the woods and his career choice reflects that interest. Gus and I were fortunate to have known Ben's maternal grandfather. Ben has many of his grandfather's great qualities and I guess I would describe him as a quieter version of Jack. Megan of course has lots of spunk. Coming to an almost all male crew is not the easiest road to take. I think she has made the transition quite nicely. The picture below was take a couple of days ago as they were heading off to a section to add blue line. 
Lunch Break
When I went through past blogs, I realized that I had not mentioned a long time member of our crew and that is Andrew. Sorry, Andrew! Or maybe I left the best till last!
Andrew catching a few rays
Andrew is married and has two young children. It is unusual to see him being still so I thought this would make a nice picture. This photo was taken a couple of days ago when things were a bit quieter. Today the sap was just starting to trickle and I had to chase Andrew to find out how long he has been at Canadian Organic Maple. He has been with us for 7 years and has worked in the years when the seasons were good and in the seasons that weren't so good. Each season he has worked hard and has been committed to repairing lines, tapping trees and then searching for those pesky leaks in the vacuum system. Andrew puts many miles on his legs throughout the season. I dare say he has walked most all areas of the sugary sometime in the last 7 years. When Andrew decides something is going to happen, he doesn't give up until it happens. When we first started this business, we were told that good production starts in the woods. Every year I believe this more and more. Andrew finds many ways to show us that he appreciates his job and he tells us often how much he likes to work here.

At this point I really do have to mention Duane, our manager. Duane is a pretty even tempered kind of fellow but he will not tolerate behavior that shows disrespect for another person. I believe this is the key reason that people like to work here. That is not to say that shenanigans don't happen here. I hear vague rumblings every now and then.
<![CDATA[It is Getting Close]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2013 01:13:11 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/it-is-getting-closeThis happens every year.  It seems like maple season is months away and then all of the sudden it is here. It isn't actually here yet but today made it seem very close.  Lots is happening at the sugar house these days.  it seems that everything is in a mess.
Duane will not be happy when he sees this. 
A new Reverse Osmosis machine was delivered today and that created lots of interest.  It looks huge compared to the other RO machines.  Devin is rotating between smiles to have a new machine to work with and looks of concern wondering how will it work.

It seems there is always maintenance on the snowmobiles.  Actually maintenance on everything.  Jordan and Brian are doing a little tune up at lunch time. 
Brian and Jordan
Also a couple of new fellows have joined us at Canadian Organic Maple.  Dalton is a local farmer and we are very pleased to have him helping us out this winter.  Dalton is a hard worker and does the job right the first time.    Kyle lives nearby and we are pleased to welcome him as well.  Kyle and Dalton are both quiet; they don't add much chatter in the lunch room but they have added greatly to efforts in the woods. 

Everyone is happy to get a few minutes in the sugar house even on a nice spring day like this. 
I went on snowshoes up in the woods just as the sun was setting.  What a beautiful sight!  I must confess I get a bit overwhelmed this time of year.  So much is happening so fast and it seems that the To Do list is endless.  Not for me, but for the crew.  I don't think there is one thing on the list that I can actually do.  I pretty much stand on the sidelines and wring my hands.

However as I walked through the quiet woods and watched the beautiful sunset through the trees, I could not help but feel fortunate to be in this place, at this time.  Sometimes this truly is a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. 
<![CDATA[Our Chicago Connection]]>Tue, 08 Jan 2013 17:15:07 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/our-chicago-connection
Sandra and Levi
Awhile ago I mentioned that we had a son in Chicago and he keeps tabs on us at the sugar woods.  Levi, or I should say Dr. Levi, is an engineer and lead researcher on the world's first mind-controlled bionic leg launched last November.   Media from around the world covered the story. Check out this video if you're interested in seeing the bionic leg in action.

 Zac Vawter, who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in 2009, wore the "smart leg" as part of a fund raiser for the Rehab Institute of Chicago.  He climbed 103 flight of steps in 52 minutes and 9 seconds.  

The smart leg measures electrical signals generated by the amputees hamstring muscles.  A motorized ankle and knee helped synchronize the leg.  The motors, belts and chains in the smart leg are controlled by the thoughts of the user. 

I can't begin to describe how incredibly proud we are of Levi and the team of researchers that he works with.   Levi would be quick to explain that it is a team accomplishment.  Gus and I have been privileged to meet a few of his co-workers and we knew immediately that we were meeting incredibly smart, talented and hardworking people.

As farfetched as this may seem, some of the technology that Levi has helped develop for the bionic leg is also being used at our sugar house.  A few years back when Levi was at UNB doing research for his doctorate, he and a group or 4 other graduate students worked on a project for Canadian Organic Maple to develop a monitoring and control system for sap flow and vacuum monitoring.  We have used this system over the past 4 years for real time control and data collection during the maple season.

The staff at Canadian Organic Maple are all proud of Levi and look forward to his visits back home.  As they monitor the sap flow and vacuum pressure, they all know that Levi is keeping an eye on all of us from his office in Chicago.  His frequent calls to the sugar house during maple season let us know he is with us in spirit.  Levi tells me he has four seasons on his calendar: fishing season, hunting season, Christmas season and maple season. 

Gus and I have exported lots of product to the United States during these last 14 years but our most valuable export and the one we are the most proud of has been Levi. 

Congratulations Levi! 
Levi and Gus checking trees
Hook and release Atlantic Salmon on the Miramichi River system in New Brunswick
Levi and brother Zak checking out the woods
Emily, Gus, Sandra, Levi and Zak at the sugarhouse
<![CDATA[Royal Visit]]>Sat, 17 Nov 2012 14:29:38 GMThttp://www.canadianorganicmaple.com/blog/royal-visitI must confess that the blog has been neglected lately. Updating the blog is much simpler with our new website design and I'm hoping to post more regularly, especially during maple season. I thought I would get back into the swing of things by sharing our experience meeting HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall earlier this summer. 

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the phone in early May and I was asked if we would be interested in meeting the Royal couple. At first the usual "this has got to be a joke" ran through my mind but it seemed like a legitimate call and indeed it was. 

As I soon learned, the Royal couple were making a stop in New Brunswick on their visit to Canada and they had asked to meet a maple syrup producer. Prince Charles has been a promoter of organic food for many years and actually produces organic vegetables in his garden at his Highgrove estate, therefore our organic maple products were a perfect fit.

Karen (daughter-in-law) and Emily (daughter) were enthusiastic from day one. They, along with our son, Zak, joined Gus and I for the gala event to represent the next generation of maple producers. We had lots of fun deciding wardrobe, what to use for serving utensils, and how to set up the booth. Of course, Gus' main concern was the taste and quality of the syrup. He decided on the syrup, spread and sugar that would be presented. 

Fast forward to May 18 and here we are at the Marco Polo terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick meeting the Royal couple. The day was prefect! Saint John had never looked better - every street had been swept, flowers were planted and the streets were lined with people waiting for a glimpse of the royals. 

Inside the terminal, the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra provided entertainment. As the entourage approached our area of the terminal, the Duchess came directly to Zak, Karen and Emily and sampled a taste of syrup. Prince Charles soon joined and he, too, had a sample. They took their time and asked questions about maple including how it is produced and how production had been this year.

What a fun day. I like to think I am not unduly influenced by famous people but I confess, I was starstruck. The Prince and Duchess were gracious and made us feel that what we do is important and that they were very pleased to spend time at our booth. 
Emily, Zak and Karen at our booth
Sandra and Gus
Royal couple enjoying the performance by the New Brunswick Youth Orchestra
Serving samples
Serving samples