Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 12

facility in Middlebury for cheese production.
Pine Valley Farm could be considered a smaller dairy operation,
but it has grown more than Nehemiah Smith ever could have imagined, and its size is one that Julanne's son Neal thinks is just right,
because on this day in late March, the small sugar house just down
the road from the main farm is where most of the action is, around
the clock, seven days a week.
After working with the former owner of the sugar house for several years, the family has owned the business outright for the past
five. The first sap was boiled in January this year, and although
March got off to a slow start it is running fast now and they are
racing to keep up with it.
"I was here all last night with my little beagle, getting up every
two hours to check on things," Neal says. "We were a thousand
gallons behind last year two days ago, but by the end of today,
we'll be caught up."
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Perspectives Magazine

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They have a sugarbush of 16,000 trees to tap, an enterprise that
takes approximately 150 hours. "We try to tap a tree a minute,"
says Neal's son Chandler. "We walk every main line at least two
or three times."
"We've got more than 15 miles of main line," Neal says. "They
were at the end of their life when we took over so we're replacing
them fairly quickly. After 15 or 20 years, the sun gets after them
and they start coming apart and cracking."
While a lot of work is going into routine maintenance and management activities, it's also clear from a tour of the sugar house-
where several "Smith-styled" pieces of equipment are in use-that
the knack for invention has been successfully passed from one
generation to the next.
"Oh yeah, we like to make stuff," Neal laughs. "I might buy something incomplete from a company and then we finish it. We've got
a lot of equipment that I've made-a firewood processor, a feed
cart for feeding my calves, a self-propelled round bale wrapper
that loads itself." He indicates the large vacuum pump system
housed in a separate outbuilding that is sending sap down to the
two bulk tanks stored below it. "You can't really buy something
like this, so we built it. We experimented with different pumps and
other parts."
Along with their own home-manufactured equipment, the Sharrows also sell and service equipment for H20 Distributors, primarily reverse osmosis systems, which perform the critical function of
separating the sugar from the water as the sap is pumped through
it.
Within the system are filters with permeable membranes so tight
that a water molecule can be pushed through while the sugar
molecule remains. The resulting pure, mineral-free water is then
pumped back out into separate storage tanks.
Checking the gauges on his own reverse osmosis machine, Neal
is encouraged to see the sugar content is continuing to rise from
where it was a few days earlier. When it begins to fall again, that


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Perspectives - Spring 2018

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Perspectives - Spring 2018

Contents
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - Cover1
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - Cover2
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - Contents
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 4
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 5
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 6
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 7
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 8
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 9
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 10
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 11
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 12
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Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 21
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Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 40
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 41
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Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 43
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 44
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 45
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - 46
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - Cover3
Perspectives - Spring 2018 - Cover4
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