Maple syrup and music are a family affair

The Paul family of Ontonagon County.

Story and photos by Mary Shegan
The air around the Paul family home in Trout Creek sizzles and crackles with excitement and anticipation when the sap starts to run in the spring, and when the family is ready to board the bus for Branson.
The Paul family, Tracey, Jesse and their five children, make their living producing and selling maple syrup and performing Bluegrass and Gospel music.
The Pauls moved to Ontonagon County in the western Upper Peninsula during 2015. They loved their home in Florida and were involved in many community activities, but Tracey and Jesse became concerned, because everyone seemed to be scattering in different directions. Valuing their family solidarity above all else, they began their search for business opportunities that would include the entire family.
Intrigued by the maple syrup business, Jesse read everything he could find about the industry. Tracey hoped to find a place where they could raise healthy, organic products.
Because parts of the U.P. of Michigan have large stands of maple trees and affordable farm land, the family decided to make a trip to check out the area. In January of 2014, the family of seven made a trial run to Ontonagon County to see if they could tolerate the snow and cold.
“We figured if we could handle the weather in January, we could handle the rest,” Jesse said.
In May of 2015, after many family meetings and extensive research, Tracey and Jesse loaded up the children, Austin, Daltin, Priscilla, Bethany, and Mitchell, for a permanent move to Michigan. Although searching for the right property took several months, they finally found what they were looking for in the southern part of Ontonagon County…

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