Farm Collector


Rt. 1, Vicks burg, Michigan

We were invited to the George Evans Sugar Bush, just East of
Fulton, Michigan, Sunday the 24th. of March where maple syrup has
been processed for more than 100 years, now being managed by Mr.
and Mrs. Maurice Miller. An extension of the building has been
added to cover the boilers since the enclosed photo was taken. A
very cozy room about 14 x 20 with boiler dome protruding through
the f1oor I think a coffee pot was built on this dome because I was
never there when you would not get the aroma of freshly brewed
coffee and maple syrup. A big dining table and chairs for eight,
davenport, refrigerator, gas stove, cupboards and a double bed for
a little shut-eye for those on night duty.

There are two lighting plants, one an antique farm Delco plant,
the other a generator off a railroad locomotive, both operate very
smoothly. The boiler is a 50 H.P. horizontal, 3′ flues and
carries 100 pounds pressure. A kerosene engine is used to fill
boiler when cold, then a steam pump takes over.

Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Evans prepared Sunday dinner buckwheat
pancakes, roasted sausage, hot maple syrup, doughnuts, coffee,
cheese, fruit, pickles and all the trimmings.

Among their guests were Dr. Robbins, professor of Forestry at
Mich. State College, East Lansing, also Robert Huxtable of the
Sugar Bush Supply Company, Lansing, Michigan. Before the long noon
hour was over more than 200 pancakes had gone down the hatch.

The syrup season is short and the hours long. Getting the bush
ready means cutting plenty of wood, the pans, tanks and all
containers must be carefully sterilized, tank wagons in order, etc.
Last winter a new stack was put on the boiler and the snow was so
deep the only way to get there was by ‘hoof’. The old
method of tapping trees was by brace and bit. Now they strap a
small air cooled engine on their back and with a power drill work
as fast as a woodpecker with a big family.

They tell me Mr. Miller started boring trees before dawn and
hanging pails. Buckets to you Hoosiers, 1500 of them, preparing for
the first run.

The next day when the boys went out to gather the sap they
discovered that their boss had hung pails on two hickory trees, one
elm and a telephone post. We are thinking about replacing the bit
in the boring machine with a small propeller so Mr. Miller can soar
over the woods to inspect the sap run. Our only fear is that this
is Indian country yet and he might get an arrow thru his gas tank.
The sap tests about 3%, in other words it takes at least 100
gallons of sap to make 3 gallons of syrup which by law must weigh
11 pounds per gallon.

Yesterday three bus loads of children from the Mendon schools
were shown how maple syrup is produced. This was the sweetest group
of children I have seen because when they left the bush to get back
on the bus each child was carrying a little paper cup with a sample
of Miller’s Maple Syrup. Think it awfully nice for the Millers
to take time out to do this, for its something the students will
remember for their life time.

One man dropped in during the afternoon looked at the boiler and
coils and said, ‘my Uncle Charley used to have an outfit
similar to this out in the hills of Kentucky’ but as recalled
it, they didn’t call it syrup -think it was called Mountain
Dew. And they gave you a whisk broom free with every bottle
purchased so you could brush yourself off when able to get up.

For the small fee you readers are paying for the ALBUM I expect
you to separate the truth from the fiction in this article.

  • Published on Sep 1, 1963
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