MADISON — It’s been almost two months since Bob Haulk wrapped up maple syrup production at Haulk’s Maple on Lakewood Road, but that doesn’t mean he’s taking a break.

When they’re not busy selling syrup and maple sugar candies, Haulk and his wife, Diane, are busy entertaining visitors and planning the expansion of their 947-tap sugaring operation.

On Friday they shared the story of their small maple syrup farm with visitors from around the Northeast interested in learning more about maple syrup production in Maine. The farm was one of six stops on the Maine Maple Producers Association’s Maple Mania, an annual tour of Maine maple farms that seeks to share and promote the state’s maple syrup industry. The event, which took place Thursday through Saturday in Skowhegan, also included workshops and educational components for maple syrup producers.

“It’s a good time because it’s after the maple season is over and the cleanup is over,” said Kathy Hopkins, an extension educator at the Maine Cooperative Extension, explaining the relevance of a maple syrup tour in June.

Many maple syrup enthusiasts are familiar with Maine Maple Sunday, a statewide syrup celebration held in March each year; but for many producers the fledgling Maple Mania is just as exciting.

The cooperative extension works with the Maine Maple Producers Association to organize Maple Mania, which has been held at different locations around the state for the last five years.


“In the far parts of the state, maple syrup production goes into May. This is a good time,” Hopkins said, adding that for many of the agriculturalists drawn to the tour, it’s also a convenient time on farms before the haying season starts.

At Haulk’s, maple syrup production wrapped up on April 16. It was an average year, with about 187 gallons of syrup being produced, Bob Haulk said. The most the farm has ever produced was 500 gallons three years ago.

Visitors to the farm Friday, mostly others in the industry, got a tour of the sugar shack, including an up-close look at the Haulks’ wood-fired evaporator. The machine allows them to boil up to 350 gallons of sap per hour — meaning it produces 10 to 12 gallons of syrup per hour.

As they disembarked from a yellow school bus, the visitors — who came from around Maine as well as New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts and New York — were greeted by Bob Haulk, who explained that he learned the syrup-making process from his grandfather more than 50 years ago.

“I’ve been doing it ever since,” said Haulk, 62, recalling having to transport sap in a sleigh drawn by horses when he was a child. Today Haulk drives the sap to the sugar house in a pickup truck from taps in Athens, Embden and Solon.

When the Haulks first bought their farm in Madison 35 years ago, they had just 38 taps and boiled the sap on a cast iron stove. In 2007 a grant allowed them to buy the larger wood-fired evaporator, which runs on yellow birch, a type of wood Bob Haulk says he favors because it creates the hottest and quickest fires.


Marty Giuliano, of West Shokan, N.Y., and his brother, Mike Giuliano, were among about 130 visitors to Haulk’s on Friday. Marty Giuliano has about 325 taps at his own sugar farm in New York, Marty’s Maple, and produces about 70 gallons of syrup a year. He said he enjoys looking at the technology and techniques at other maple syrup farms, as well as meeting other producers.

“You meet so many nice people,” he said. “It’s like a big fraternity. We all have a story to tell, and you learn something everywhere you stop.”

The Haulks agreed. “It’s nice to hear the comments you get from people from away,” Diane Haulk said.

The couple said Friday that they were looking forward to their own tour of maple syrup farms when they visit Vermont’s Maplerama next month. In the meantime, they still had two more tour buses to greet at their own sugar shack.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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