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2020 Remodel

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Written by Gene O'Brien, September 2019

Why A New Sap Shed?
I remember when I was a small boy, maybe 10 or 11 years old, my grandfather would say, “It’s time to tap the trees”.  He would have me go up into the loft of the granary and hand down to him the tapping equipment. The equipment consisted of the pails, spickets, 10 milk cans, brace, and bits.  I do not recall the flat pan, used to boil down the sap, being stored above in the granary loft.  He may have just left it in the woods place upside down near his cooking area.  Once the supplies were loaded on the flat bed of a logging sleigh, we were off to the maple woods.  I drove the tractor that pulled the sleigh because Grandpa would not drive tractors. He only drove horses. 
My sapping memories go back for many, many years. I do not recall the specifics of my conversations with Grandpa, but we spent many hundreds of hours talking during the sapping seasons sitting next to the cooker in the woods boiling down the sap.  The cooker consisted of a boiling-down pan, which was about 3 feet wide, 7 feet long and 8 inches deep, that sat over a home-made fire pit, made up of mounded dirt on the sides and a chimney at the rear.  We would stoke the fire with 6’ logs about 3” to 6” in diameter.  The process would take the entire day.  My grandfather was a great story-teller so every day there was something new. I believe those moments and times spent with Grandpa making maple syrup was the reason I got to know and love him so much.  His influence on me was a major part of the reason of who I am. I sincerely thank him.
In these past 15-20 years, I have experienced seeing many groups in the maple syrup process that include: husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, cousins, other relatives, boy and girlfriends, mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, grandfathers with grandchildren, and grandmothers with grandchildren. All of the above mentioned share time together in fun and conversation at the sap shed.  When I witness this, I always think back to the great times I had with my grandfather, dad, mother, brothers, and sisters making maple syrup. 
When we originally constructed the sap shed we failed to set the elevation of the concrete slab properly. As a result, over the years, we’ve had minor flood issues as a result of the spring thaws.  This past year was the worst I have ever noticed. 
The Sap Shed has been added onto numerous times to improve its function. Today, in my opinion, the boiling down area is State-Of-The-Art.  We were once again considering another addition to improve the kitchen area. I was, however, concerned about the deterioration of the canning/entertainment area.  Each year I noticed this entire area was becoming harder for me to go into because of the mold that was accumulating within the structure.  I realized in the near future it would become an unsafe health environment for anyone to be in. 
Even though I did not share my concerns with many of the family members, I did discuss my thoughts with Jim.  He agreed we would need to do something in the near future to resolve the molding condition. 
We discussed my idea of building an entirely new facility and my desire to pay for the cost of constructing it.  I explained to Jim that I was very fortunate to be able to acquire, in my opinion, a substantial amount of money during my lifetime. It is my wish to give some of it back to the community.  I realized the “Community” is my family.  We came to the conclusion that I present my ideas to the Board of Directors of the LLC, which I did.
This proposed facility will be basically designed to be the same concept we presently have.  The additional amenities will include a full kitchen area, indoor bathroom, a bit larger entertainment/canning area and an attached garage.  The cost of operating this new facility will somewhat increase, however, I do plan on providing funds for these additional operating costs for the next ten years.
This new Sap Shed would provide a safe environment and adequate space for the next three generations to come. 
My contribution to the Maple Grove LLC is to enhance the on-going Maple Syrup experience.  It is my wish you also will be able to experience those precious times that I had growing up making maple syrup with my family. I believe this had an enormous impact on my life for the better.
It just can’t get much better than sitting in the middle of the Maple Woods on a brisk, clear spring day, sharing time with a loved one and thanking God for the many blessings He has given each of us.
May He continue to bless you as He has me!
Gene O'Brien, fall 2019
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