What started out as an idea to see of they could do it, has now become a thriving business for the Overholt brothers, who are making maple syrup the old fashioned way – with good old hard work and self-educated know-how.
Wilson, Wesley and Jaylin Overholt thought it would be fun to turn sap from a maple tree into syrup by boiling it down in an old iron pot on a fire. “We just wanted to see if we could do it,” said 18-year-old Wilson Overholt of their first try years ago.
What began as a experiment has now turned into a full-blown operation, which required the brothers to educate themselves on the processes of making maple syrup in large quanities. The brothers even traveled to New York to visit other syrup businesses to see how it’s done.
A few years after the brothers realized they could make syrup, they took their idea and grew it into what it is today. From an iron pot to a sugar house that last year produced 37,000 gallons of sap, the OBrother’s business is now booming and with over 1,400 trees tapped on a farm in Bucksville, the maple syrup is flowing.
“It’s really been a fun adventure,” said Wilson”I like working with my brothers and we like being able to take something that starts out simple and becomes more complex.”
The Overholt sugar house is positioned behind their farm at 4919 Stevenson Mill Road. The bothers’ dad is no stranger to construction as he is the owner and operator of Nat-O Roofing.
“This is a good thing for them to be doing this time of year,” said Nat, adding the roofing business slows down in the winter. Nat is teaching his sons the roofing trade as well.
It takes a lot of dedication to make maple syrup, said Wesley. The bothers must feed the evaporator with wood every eight minutes to keep the fire going and the heat up to 825 degrees. It’s definitely a heated job for sure.
The Overholt sisters also help with production. They lend a hand when it’s time to bottle and label, said Wilson.
“Most people don’t realize that the sap that comes out of the tree is clear, almost like water,” said Wilson. “The whole idea is to get all the water out of the sap. There is 2 percent sugar in raw sap, but when the sap is boiled it is 60 percent sugar.”
It’s a short season for making maple syrup, usually between January and March, but it really depends on the temperature, said Wilson.
“You want it to get really cold at night and then warm up in the day with some sunshine. That is the perfect time for sap to flow,” Wilson said.
You can purchase the OBrother’s real maple syrup at Farmer’s Hardware or Piggly Wiggly in Russellville; the Corinth Market out Hwy. 100, or the Country Breeze in Auburn. You can also drive out to the Overholt farm on Stevenson Mill Road and have a look at the sugar house. The brothers would love to show you around, and let you sample what started out as a boys’ adventure, but turned into a mans’ future.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.