Friday, January 30, 2015


Earlier this week, the weather forecast looked amazing for this weekend. Low 40s, sunny on Saturday, small chance of rain on Sunday. Perfect tapping weather. We assembled the troops and Jennyand I made plans to go to Michigan since the guys would be busy. Everything was sunshine and rainbows.....

Until yesterday evening, when the weather forecast changed to this......

And this...

3-8 inches of snow, depending on which news station is on. Low 30s, wind chill factor, freezing rain, winter weather warnings. The kind of weather that makes people go crazy and buy a ton of bread and milk. 

So the troops were canceled last night. The guys planned on going to Michigan. We made other plans.....

This morning, we woke up to a new weather forecast....

Of 40s and sunny on Saturday. Rain,but warm on Sunday. No snow. NO CHANCE OF SNOW......

So, I think we will be tapping this weekend. Jen and I will be going to Michigan. The troops will be recalled. Got to love Indiana weather. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dirty Dishes

Have you ever noticed that every dishwasher related commercial on tv is like......

And real life (or at least at my house) it's like....

Life feels like the overloaded dishwasher right now. We are processing vendor applications. The musicians are being scheduled. We are sending out press releases to local news outlets. Everything that is not made on the farm (mugs, t-shirts, maple coated nuts, tea) needs to be priced and packaged. We still need to drive to Michigan to pick up our reverse osmosis machine and supply order. 

Oh...we still need to tap the trees and make a lot of syrup. The guys are monitoring the weather like mad men and are arguing if we should or should not tap this weekend. 

 On top of everything, I have a fussy two year old who is currently throwing a tantrum on the kitchen floor because I wouldn't let him feed the package of fresh strawberries I just bought to the dog. 

No matter what your dishwasher looks like, the dishes will eventually get clean and it probably won't hurt the dog to eat a few strawberries....right?

Monday, January 26, 2015

Meet Stanley!

Meet Stanley! We received Stanley from Westminster Elementary School in Westminster, MA. 


The Stanley Project is a worldwide school project. Students will send Stanley to other students or businesses. The recipient of Stanley will chronicle his adventures using photographs and a journal. After the project is complete, Stanley will return to the original student.

Since I probably did a bad job explaining the project, look at this link for a better explanation.

We can't wait for our adventures with Stanley. I think he will enjoy gator rides and tapping maple trees!! 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Season Update

Rain, rain go away....

It's raining cats and dogs at the farm today, so outdoor activities are limited. Nevertheless, we have plenty to keep us busy. The weather is looking wonderful next week, so tapping is likely on Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend. Our supply run to Michigan was delayed AGAIN, so it looks like Jenny and I will likely make the trip on Friday/Saturday. 

The Sugarstore is looking great. Robert watched Mason while he was napping today, and mom and I worked in the store. We moved shelves around, swept, and organized. I can't wait until our customers see it. There is so much space!!! 

We were thinking about removing another wall to make room for a sample table, but after rearranging some tables, I think we got it worked out without removing the wall.

Mom had some time in her schedule this week to clean and organize the children's activity building and start working on the scavenger hunt goodies.

Since its been above freezing during the day for several days, the mud has arrived. 

Sure sign of the syrup season. Rain, mud, ice, and busy work days at the farm!!

Thursday, January 22, 2015


Head on over to our facebook page. As of today, we have 1,455 likes. When we reach 1,500 likes, we will randomly select one person who has liked our page as a winner of a container of delicious maple cream!! 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Customer FEEDBACK needed!!

I need feedback from you!! The festival is a growing event, and each
year the growing number of attendees has necessitated expansion and
improvement of several areas at the festival. I would love to hear
from our customers and hear how we can improve the festival experience
for YOU. We value our customers and we want to make your experience at
our farm a wonderful time. Preparing our family farm for the festival
each year takes a small army. We try to do everything we can to
accommodate everyone! Several areas have been congested in the past:

Parking – Parking 2,000-4,000 customers per day at the festival is
always a bottleneck area. We are currently making improvements this
year. We are expanding our available parking space, we are ordering
more gravel than ever before, and we are improving our parking staff.
We will have two tractors and an ATV shuttling customers to and from
the parking area at all times. We offer handicapped parking spots very
near the Sugarhouse. Please keep in mind that we have no control over
the weather, but we will do everything that we can to help you. From a
customer’s point of view, what would make your parking experience
Parking area. 

Food – The restaurant at the farm is another bottleneck area. During
breakfast and lunch rush, and all day during beautiful weather, lines
form and people have to wait in line to purchase meals. This year, we
are offering two alternatives to dining in the restaurant; a food
truck serving old recipe Italian food (pizza, sausage and pepper
sandwiches, pasta) and a sandwich shop (pork sandwiches, possibly
burgers and hot dogs). Both locations will also serve bottled water,
canned soft drinks, and chips. The food truck and sandwich booth will
be located near the vendor area. We believe that this will be a great
alternative for people who do not wish to wait in line to purchase a
meal. I know that I couldn’t wait in line for too long with Mason
without having a meltdown!! We would love to keep expanding our food
options, but most food trucks or food vendors require a very large
amount of electricity, something we do not have the capability to
offer at this time. If you have a self-contained, licensed, insured
food business, please contact us!!  From a customer’s point of view,
what can we improve?
Customers patiently waiting in line to purchase meals.

Sugarstore – The Sugarstore is my baby. I manage the store and take
great pride in how much it has improved over the years. Those who have
attended the festival for a long time will remember when we only had
one section of the store – about 200 square feet. For a long time, our
“cash register” was a cardboard box. Now we have expanded to over 900
square feet, we have three cash registers and we accept debit and
credit cards. This year, we have reconfigured the store to allow a
better flow of customers. We have removed the three cotton candy bins
which were positioned in the center of each section and thanks to
Nic’s dad, we have a brand new cotton candy bin!! If you are familiar
with the layout of the store, we have moved the t-shirt display to
another location, and in its original spot, we have installed one
large cotton candy bin. Doing this opens up a HUGE amount of floor
space in the store. This will allow more customers to comfortably be
in the store at one time. We have also built additional shelving to
separate the check-out lines from the shopping area. We have had
problems in the past where the check-out lines back up into the
shopping area, blocking off the shopping area so customers making
purchases have difficulty navigating the store. Hopefully our
improvements this year will create a better shopping experience for

Old t-shirt display area....
Replaced with a new cotton candy bin!!
The small cotton candy bins in the center of each section have been removed, opening up a lot of floor space. 

So…Let’s hear it!!! What can we improve? How can we make your festival
experience better? What are we doing well? You can comment or send us an email at

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Season Update

Farm life continues to be busy. The guys are happy to announce that the woods are officially ready to tap. The lines have been prepared, replaced and updated. All of the pumps are serviced and ready to go. The weather looks great so far this season. We plan on tapping our trees in two weeks. We are very excited to see if our improvements this year impact our syrup production. Hopefully we make a lot of syrup this year!! 

I picked up the granulated maple sugar and maple candy from our amish friends in campbellsville on Saturday. All of the candy and sugar is made using local maple syrup from Orange County, Indiana. 

The sugar comes packaged in 5 pound bags. Jenny and I repackaged 90 pounds of granulated sugar into half pound bags, small and large sugar shakers, and 5 gallon buckets of cotton candy mix ( 1 part pure granulated maple sugar to 2 parts pure granulated cane sugar). 
Half pound bags of granulated maple sugar. Packaged, bagged, labled and ready to go!!

We packaged the maple candy pieces into three piece snack bags and half pound bags. I think we did 60 pounds so far. After two days of bagging candy and sugar, everything starts to run together. 

Robert and I are planning on going to Michigan on Sunday to pick up our annual supply order and the new reverse osmosis machine. The trip has been rescheduled several times to a delay in our jug order. Hopefully it works out this time!! 

Jenny and Nic were off work today and spent the day at the farm. Jenny delivered the Bloomingfoods order. 

I worked a half day and spent a couple of hours making phone calls today. Our t-shirts have been ordered from Sampan, the maple tea has been ordered from Metropolitan Tea Company, the maple coated nuts have been ordered from Zachary Confections, and several new vendors have been scheduled. I think we will have 10-15 new vendors this year. We will be putting together our vendor list and musician schedule within the next two weeks. Never a dull moment or a spare minute!! 


Sunday, January 11, 2015

Season Update

We have been busy little bees on the farm this weekend. The weather is frigid!

If you have attended the festival and explored the Children's Activity Center, you may be familiar with our candle making activity. If not, we have an activity where children of all ages can make their own candles using wick and melted wax. There is a $1.00 fee, with all proceeds going to a local charity.

The wax comes in large 10 pound bricks. Each brick must be smashed into small pieces so they fit into the metal containers. Jenny, Mason and I have been smashing wax for several weeks. 
Large bricks - these are already broken in half or thirds. 

Smashed wax - about three inches square. We go through about 150 pounds of wax each year.

The Sugarstore is currently being renovated. We removed the three small cotton candy bins and built one large cotton candy bin. This frees up a ton of space in the Sugarstore and should greatly improve the traffic flow in the store. 

We also built new shelves to create a barrier to separate the checkout line from the shopping area. During the busiest times of the festival, customers waiting in line to checkout will congest the shopping area. I think this change will make the store so much more customer friendly and will accommodate our large crowds.

The guys are still working in the woods replacing spiles and tubing. The new spiles are smaller in diameter but a little longer. They are supposed to improve our vacuum system and produce a greater flow of sap while being a healthier option for our trees. 
The new spiles are black - the old spiles are blue.

Yes - Robert has a busted thumb. 

Jenny is bottling syrup. We are getting close to the end of our supply until we make more this season. The weather looks great so far for a great season. 

Robert finished servicing all of our vacuum pumps. We had several that needed new carburetors and a few that had small issues. 
Busy...busy...busy. We are planning on making a trip to Michigan next week to pick up out jugs and our large supply order. We are also hopefully purchasing a new reverse osmosis system while we are up there. We need to mow all of our parking areas, continue cleaning buildings, and hopefully make a lot of syrup within the next 5-8 weeks.

Friday, January 2, 2015

8 weeks and counting.....

Our family had a wonderful Christmas together. Due to conflicting
family events, we did our family Christmas on the weekend before
Christmas. Jen and Nic spent the holiday in Michigan with Nic’s
relatives and Robert, Mason and I spent Christmas Eve with his parents
and Christmas Day with his grandmother. We all stuffed ourselves with
delicious food, had a wonderful time catching up with all of our
family members, and were gifted a lot of pretty amazing presents!

The business is still keeping us busy. Our shipment of supplies (syrup
jugs, tubing, spiles, tapping supplies, etc) arrived from Michigan.
The order was shipped to another local sugarbush in North Vernon,
Indiana. Nic and Jen made the trip up there yesterday (Thursday) to
pick it up. The guys spent all afternoon hauling and cutting firewood.
Nic’s parents came to the farm over Christmas break (both are teachers
in the Cincinnati area). Nic’s dad remodeled part of the Sugarstore
and Nic’s mom cleaned out several of the cabins on the farm. Their
help is greatly appreciated.

Robert spent several hours on Thursday getting the evaporator ready
for the season. Every March when the season is over, we take all of
the front finishing pans off and take all of the ashes out of the
firebox. It is a dirty job shoveling out all of the ashes.

Jen and I spent the day working inside. Jen made more drop lines for
our tubing replacement project in the woods. It is much more efficient
to pre-make 2 tap and three tap drop lines inside where it is warm,
rather than making them one by one in the woods. I cleaned the house
and dated all of the reminder post cards that we collect at the
festival. We are planning on finishing all of the vendor letters and
sending packets out to staff members this weekend.

We will be at the farm all weekend this weekend. The weather looks
pretty nasty so we might be limited to indoor activities. We need to
unpack and organize our supplies, bottle syrup for several orders this
week, and continue working on our festival check-list. It is hard to
believe that we only have 8 weeks until the festival….OMG!!!