We began stripping the cane and deheading on October 4th. We worked on this in the evenings after work for the next week. On Saturday the 11th, we took the binder and the '27 Regular Farmall the 1/4 mile drive to the cane field. We cut the 20 rows of M81-E in about an hour. Had a few problems along the way like a broken tongue and then it locked down with only 4 rows to go. We just cut those by hand to get finished.
We began grinding on Friday evening the 17th. I knew I was not going to have a lot of juice this year due to the drought, so I planned on 2 smaller batches. There were guests coming over on Saturday that wanted to see the grinding, so I only ground about half on Friday night.
I lit the fire under the first batch of about 55-60 gallons at 5:30 Saturday morning. I also started the fire in the smoker for the BBQ lunch we put together for the guests and helpers.
It got hot quick, and wasn't long before I had to start the skimming. The first help showed up around 6:15am.
Daylight brought some more help, plus the first views of the new shed I put over the kettle, as well as my wife's homegrown decorations.
We started grinding again around 10:30 am for the second batch. The Chattanooga #70 worked flawlessly again this year.We finished up with the second batch around 4:00 pm. Total of both batches was between 9-10 gallons of syrup. Everyone says this was the best syrup yet out of 5 years trying. I used a hydrometer this year for the first time and it seemed to pay off. I guess I'll be buying another one because my wife broke the new one while washing it during clean-up.