When the youngest of my troop found the Maple Madness Driving Tour for his current events for school...I was intrigued. I mean, they mentioned a pancake breakfast and it said the event was in Rock Creek, Ohio.
Rock Creek, Ohio is really close to my house. Close enough for me to go get some pancakes. Especially if someone else is making them. The website for Bissell Maple Farm also seemed pretty intriguing. I mean...they sold maple mustard.
What was maple mustard?
So I woke up and called and asked how much for the pancakes?
When the person who answered said free...I have to admit I became leery. I mean, if they didn't value their pancakes...Was I driving to some tiny little farm with a woman baking pancakes in her kitchen and making syrup on the stovetop?
But...uh...I like pancakes. And I don't like to cook. So off we went.
And then my googlemaps failed me and I was pretty sure I was driving into the Blair Witch Maple Project. When the road turned to a dirt road, I got a little scared and more certain that I was headed to that woman over her stove top.
And I was really hoping she at least washed her hands...
And then I saw the horse drawn carriage.
Uh, yes. I did just say horse drawn carriage. Parking my car as directed, the kids and I loaded up onto the ride and I started snapping pics. Yes, I did take a picture of the horses butts. Shut up. This is my blog. And I was easily impressed by a spotted butt.
The tour blew my mind.
It turns out that this family has been in the business of making syrup for about 100 yrs. A lot of syrup gets made from Ohio (and apparently always has) and it used to be a really long and drawn out process since when sap comes out of a tree it is about 70% water.
I had no idea.
So they take the sap, pump it to a 2k tank and when it gets full, they send it to a reverse osmosis system.
Yes, I said reverse osmosis.
You see, this farm was a family run operation but by family run, I do not in any way mean old fashioned. They had a unique blend of the most modern technology and ways that had worked for their ancestors. Take the reverse osmosis...it allows them to have a smaller evaporator (see the cool picture here) because most of the water has been removed from the sap already. I believe the man advised this allows him to make about a gallon of syrup every 15minutes.
He also told us that the floor of the evaporator room was laid a little each year by himself and his father...and if you looked at it, you could see how every year they got a little better at the process...How cool is that???
He also advised us that his father chops every bit of wood they use to feed the evaporator himself...
Just like his father before him.
Uh, how can you not love that?
From there we went to the gift shop and sampled things like maple candies (which this farm makes for Daffins!), maple creame (which my kids LOVED), maple mustard (which I had to try!) and of course, maple syrup. We also got to try maple nuts...which are lovely. Our orders were rung up on an ipad (more of that old farm meets the best tech...love it.)
And then they gave us free pancakes.
Free. My kids scarfed their weight in pancakes smothered in real maple syrup while live musicians serenaded us with banjos and such. All in all, amazing.
Stuffed to the gills, we hopped back on the horse drawn carriage and rode back to the car.
If you haven't made it out to the Bissell farm and you are in the area, apparently they do this every year and it is REALLY worth the trip. They are right in Rock Creek, Ohio (directions on their website) and they are doing the tour today and March 17th this year.
If you aren't in the area...consider visiting. Or just visit their website. They ship aaaaaall over.