JAMAICA -- You're never too young to start producing maple syrup.
Owen Ameden is 10 years old and has been doing just that, for three years now.
"My dad and I saw (my uncle) Drew and the sugaring people," said Owen. "They had an evaporator. We went over and helped them. It was kind of my idea to start it, but my dad went ahead and got one. We tagged a couple trees to get sap then boiled it inside (the sugarhouse). That's how it got started."
Owen's father received a 2-foot-by-8-foot evaporator from his grandfather. But recently, he started using a 3-foot-by-8-foot evaporator.
For his birthday, Owen got an evaporator that is 2-feet-by-4-feet. He started out using a wood stove but has since expanded his operation.
"I boil on it in the sugarhouse," he said. "I have an add-on to my dad's sugarhouse. We have a pipe that comes from our sap tank. It comes down through the sugarhouse and over to my evaporator."
Owen has made 13 gallons of syrup so far this year. His father has made 110 gallons. Last year, Owen made 7 gallons.
It takes him three hours to draw syrup.
Before the first boil, he must sweeten the pan. Then he has to can the syrup in the sugarhouse. Before going on sale, he must get the syrup warmed up.
"It definitely takes a lot of work," said Owen. "You got to gather sap in buckets and split wood. I think it's worth it, though."
Owen enjoys what he does, but he's also interested in the business side of it. He sells the homemade syrup at his grandparents' store in Jamaica, D and K Grocery.
"One reason I like it is that I earn enough to buy what I want," he said. "It's where I get most of my money."
Using recent profits, Owen bought a gas-powered R.C. car.
"I also like being around fire," he said. "I like seeing the steam and seeing the syrup."
Owen also mentioned that his older brother, 12, and younger sister, 7, help out sometimes.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.