We pulled our taps in the middle of last week and boiled our last batch of sap on Sunday afternoon. All told, we finished off just shy of three gallons of maple syrup this season; not bad for 19 taps. And the addition of the hydrometer to the tool kit (we were just using a thermometer in years past) was clutch. Sure, it makes the whole thing feel a little bit like a high school chem lab experiment, but it removes all the guess work of deciding when to call it done. It's syrup when the hydrometer says so. End of story.
The wood stove I welded this year? Well, that was a fail. It burned, and with constant fanoogling you could get a rolling boil in the pan, but turn your back for a few minutes and it would tapper off. We ended up burning a whole lot of wood for a pretty tiny amount of syrup. So it goes. We're learning. Back to the drawing board on that one. But we're already making plans to ramp up production next year. More taps, more buckets, more storage, different stove. All things to sort out next winter. But for now, on to the next project.