Bob's Sugarhouse is a family-run sugaring business representing 63 plus years of experience; 26 of them in this same location. Bob and Barbara make fine Maine maple syrup, creamy maple butter, maple sugar candy, maple jelly, maple lollipops, and are always creating new maple syrup delights.
Sample the succulent flavor of spring's sweet amber liquid in Bob's products or try some of his other suggestions: maple glaze, maple on snow, ice cream topping on hot biscuits - - or think of your own.
Bob's Sugarhouse has shipped their product "literally" worldwide.
Bob's Sugarhouse is your Maine maple connection as representative for the Leader/Grimm Evaporator Company providing a complete line of maple supplies & equipment. From candy making equipment, to evaporators, pails, lines or tapping supplies, inquire with Bob for all your sugaring needs.
My sugaring career began at the age of ten when my curiosity became aroused while watching a neighboring farmer, Tom Hughes, of Sebec going about the business of making maple syrup. Tom humored me by asking if I would like to drill a hole to allow the sap to run out of the tree. I was very excited, and armed with a brace and bit, 'tapped" my first tree. Next he offered me the opportunity to help gather the sap - of course he was quite willing to let all the neighborhood kids help gather!! However, I didn't understand that then.
After Mr. Hughes finished his boiling for the season, he left some of his pails out a while longer so that I might try my hand at making syrup myself. I gathered the late season sap and hauled it in a 10-gallon milk can on a little wagon, built by my stepfather, for a distance of about 1 1/2 miles. I built myself a small "arch" out of cinder blocks and boiled this sap down in my mother's largest cake pan. I boiled for many hours until I arrived at results, which I labeled maple syrup.
the next year I graduated from the cake pan to a 55-gallon drum. I still made changes and improvements to my home operation and designs. I lined the inside of the drum with brick and hooked up a "preheater" by attaching a small metal container to the back of the drum by the smokestack. Next I connected three automotive brake lines as feeder tubes to the pan from the reservoir. I continued backyard sugaring after my own family came along and was even able to pass along my interest in maple syrup making to my children. To this day, my children are very involved in the operation.
One sideline story, which I feel I must share, involves my third-degree burns. I hope that this story will show how careful one must be in working with hot boiling sap-especially with homemade equipment
You need to be organized when you are handling hot syrup. One rule of thumb is to be sure there are not too many people around. Be prepared! Have everything in its place and be ready. By-standers are apt to distract you and often get too close to the operation. In my case, a well-intentioned relative jumped in to assist me with transferring the hot syrup from the fire. The pan tipped - I tried to correct the tip, only to have it tilt in the opposite direction out of control. The hot syrup spilled out of the pan and onto my shoulder and forearm causing third-degree burns. I didn't let that slow me down too long, and it did not deter me from pursuing my commitment to maple sugaring. I did learn a valuable lesson however, and now have very strict rules and guidelines pertaining to "helpers" in my Sugarhouse.
This experience was a natural progression to the next series of my advancement in the maple business. Up until this point, all of my boiling equipment was homemade. Clarence Herrick, good friend and local maple equipment distributor, approached me one evening while we were candlepin bowling and said, "Bob, do I have a deal for you!" He had just come home from a state trade show. The leader evaporator dealer had a display model with him that he would be happy to sell on the spot. I was hooked and bought my first real piece of maple sugaring equipment - a 2 x 6 wood-fired evaporator. It was brand new - and shiny as a new coin. I moved from my driveway operation and my homemade boiling pans to a small one-car garage. Each spring, when boiling started, it was nothing to see the fire department pull into my yard several times during the season as alarmed neighbors and passers-by were sure my building was on fire. It became a standing joke. my one real fear is that someday I might really be on fire and the fire department won't show up. They will say, "oh, there is no fire, that is just Bob boiling maple sap!" two years later I converted this evaporator to oil.
The next year I was ready to expand again. Clarence's brother, Sam Herrick, was retiring from the maple syrup making business. I purchased his 275-gallon storage tank converted to a wood-burning arch and which had a 2 x 4-drop flue leader syrup pan. This I hooked in series with the 2 x 6 and used it as a pre-heater. It worked out real well.
I eventually outgrew the one-car garage. It was time to move up again. There was a building next door that had housed the early bird greenhouse business for many years. However, the greenhouse had been closed for some time and the building was for sale. I purchased the structure in 1989 and converted it to my current Sugarhouse. A 1 1/2-story addition was added to this building in 1993 that I use for my bottling room and for sap storage. On Maple Sunday, this bottling room becomes a "reception" area where samples of maple syrup, mini pancakes, muffins, maple sundaes, etc. are served to the public. It also contains some of my storage tanks and lends itself well to tours and demonstrations.
All this time taps were being added, and the two evaporators became too inefficient and time-consuming. In 1994 a 4 x 12 oil-fired king evaporator replaced these two. The original 2 x 6 is now used on our parade float and at various agriculture fairs. In 1997 we added a steam hood over the flue pan, and this year sees the addition of a steam hood over the syrup pan along with a pre-heater. What started out as 35 taps has now grown to approximately 3000. I am proud to say that my syrup is shipped all over the United States and into many countries. My taps come from trees, which I "rent" for a jug or two of syrup, in many surrounding towns - Sebec, Dover-Foxcroft, Sangerville, Charleston, and Orneville - a route which covers a distance of approximately 20 miles.
None of this could have been accomplished without the help of my good friend, Clarence Herrick, my Uncle "Miles" Taylor, my friend Ron St. Louis, my daughters Donna, Dianne and Jo-Anne, my wife Barbara, many friends, and most certainly the people from whom I rent the trees. I appreciate every one of these people who have helped me along my journey.
We enjoy sharing our sugaring business with one and all. Every spring when the sap starts evaporating and steam surrounds our rooftop, our Sugarhouse is a bevy of excitement and brimming with visitors. One of our main delights are the school tours and the curiosity and energy of the young. During one of these tours a second grade boy looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Mr. Moore, what would you take for the whole operation?" My answer was... Not a chance!"
Update: December 2011 -- A lot has happen since this was originally written and we have had a lot happen in the last 10 years. Stay tuned... We're getting older and it takes longer to get our history updated.