Take 5 With A Farmer. Erica and Spencer Hogan of Hogans Homestead. 

What is your favourite aspect of farming? 

In Farming you are allowed to learn something new everyday, truly. You have to learn to adapt to change on the fly and in that you learn a new skill.

What is your least favourite task to do on the farm? 

Being out on the cold days tapping trees in 4ft deep snow!

What is your first farming memory? 

Farming has been in my blood for years, The first memory of farming is when I would be able to go with my dad to let the cows out, watching calf’s be born and just understanding that it all starts with a farmer.

What is your current pet peeve around the farm? 

Mother Nature, She is a very interesting business partner, and sometimes we do not see eye- to -eye with her. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? 

Still Producing Maple Syrup, and encouraging and teaching future Hogan Generations about our Family business and watch them and see what they do with it.

What do you like to do outside of farming? 

Enjoying being outside, especially in the warmer months with our family why the water and creating memories.

Who is the person who has had the biggest impact on your farming journey thus far? 

It’s a joint effort between myself and my husband Spencer, However the Farming Journey started because of Spencer’s late grandfather, Bruce Balfour who left us $200.00 to start this journey and without him we would be where we are.

How/When did you get into farming?

When Spencer’s Grandfather, Bruce passed away he left each grandchild $200.00 to spend to do something with their partners – we decided to tap 5 maple trees, just as a hobby and to learn a skill. Little did we know in three short years we would go from 5taps to 30,000 taps making us the youngest largest maple producer in Canada.

What made you want to become a farmer? 

Once it kind of chose us, we knew it was the life for us, knowing that the memories we would be able to create with our children and hopefully one day our grandchildren, not to mention the good years and the bad.

What are you most passionate about when it comes to farming? 

Creating a Product that was sourced ethically, and with our whole heart. Knowing that we are striving to be a household name and seeing our product at kitchen tables around the world.

What is one misconception that you hope to change in the industry? 

This industry isn’t just for men, We see more and more women in farming and its truly encouraging and inspiring. That women can be and are more than just the farmers wife. With the strength and leadership women have the industry will shift, and continue to move forward.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the agriculture industry? 

Bank on the bad years and hope for the good years, farming isn’t easy, but the rewards you will accomplish make it worth every bad harvest. Remember, to always try and have a little fun –

Did/Do you have a favourite animal or piece of farm equipment throughout our farming adventure? 

Well I feel like I need to answer this questions on behalf of my whole family. If you were to ask our daughters – it would be the tractor, that’s where our family memories are made, being able to sit up there with Spencer and either work or just take a drive to see what we have done as a family. If you ask spencer, it would probably be the Reverse Osmosis, that concentrates our Maple Sap.

Can you tell us a memorable farm story that made you chuckle? 

It was our second year of making maple syrup, and our area got a record high of snow, we are talking about over 12 feet of snow. So when season came to an end and we had to remove the taps, it took us and a 12ft ladder to remove the taps that were set so high due to the amount of snow.

Can you simplify a common farm task/fact/practice for our #FansOfFresh?

In the Maple Industry, a lot of people believe the bigger the maple tree, the more taps you can place in it each year. It is fact that you should only tap trees larger than 8 inches in diameter and no more than two taps on trees larger than 26 inches. However, we still to one tap a tree, this is done for our ethical practices, putting too many taps in a tree can cause loss of tree life, effecting your crop for the long run and reduce your yearly yield. 

How do you market your products? 

It started with farm gate sales, and quickly turned into a brick and mortar store within our town, our local farmers market and our website, where we ship our product worldwide to make someone’s day that much sweeter. We find ourselves on Social media often showing behind the scenes of our production and capture an audience worldwide of every age.

Describe your average day? 

An Average Day in Season, is a lot more exciting that when the sap isn’t flowing. Our day starts early, where the team will start in the bush to either tap trees or do leak checking on the sap lines to ensure we are collecting the largest yield possible with our breaks or bite marks that do occur due to wildlife such as Moose, Deer, Bears and more.

Once the sap is flowing into our Sugar Shack, we monitor it coming through our releasers, and into the Sap Holding Tanks that are about 8,000gallons each. Then we fire up the Reverse Osmosis to concentrate the sap to go from a 40 -1 ratio to a 8-1 ratio allowing production to speed up. Once the concentrate is complete, we fill the Evaporator and start the process of boiling the sap into Maple Syrup, Once the product is made, depending on the yield of sap we have collected boiling can take anywhere from an hour to ten hours. Once it is boiled it draws off the evaporator, and we start running it through a press that filters any impurities and sugar sand that can be found in Maple Syrup, its then graded accordingly and packaged either in Bulk Barrels or Consumer Size Containers.

There is also a good amount of caffeine that is consumed in this time and long with lots of sampling of Maple Syrup.

At the end of the day, we have about 3-4 hours of clean up and next day prep that is preformed and we start the day all over again. Give or take anything we might run into such as equipment challenges, broken lines or even a big snow storm.

What is something that you would like to change about your industry? 

This is an excellent question; I would love to see younger generations starting and coming into the industry more. This industry has gone through some amazing changes, and we need to continue the growth and longevity of it with younger generations.

What do you like to do in your spare time (if any)? 

I wish there was more spare time, however the time we do have we really focus on spending it away from work and with our daughters. 

If you weren’t farming what other field would you be working in?

I don’t think any other industry could hand us.

Be sure to check out fresh local options near you on G’day !

G'day Staff
Author: G'day Staff

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