Trying out the new Sugar Shack for the first time

This week we started boiling in the new sugar shack. There is no instruction manual for building all this stuff from scratch so its always a work in progress.

From the video you will here a couple of things I will change for next year :

  • re-build the manifold out of copper
  • raise the two 55 gallon tanks and put a fill location higher.
  • Add a filter on the input
  • double the number of trees tapped to 40
  • possible have a custom pan made
  • Add redundancy on important tools

King Evaporator

that last one bit us. I have (or should I say had) only one hydrometer which is used for testing the syrup. I dropped it 1/4 inch in the test beaker and it cracked. Without we were out of luck.

Large syrup evaporator

We checked around but did not find anywhere local that stocked them so called a friend around the corner who has a much larger operation and he had one we could borrow.

syrup evaporator

He taps almost 5000 tress and processes 2000 gallons of sap. Next year he is looking to double the size of his operation. I took a couple of photos of his evaporator. It was an impressive setup but like ours you could tell it was a work in progress.

King Evaporator

Back at our place we worked late into the night.

Sugar shack working into the night

Our setup requires we pay attention. We got busy for a little bit and had a boil over on our last pan and lost about a gallon of syrup. In the end we are up to about two gallons and we have only one week left that we can work. So we may end up a little short.

Midnight Sugar
This photo is available for sale here : Midnight Sugar

Thats why I would like to add another 20 buckets next year. I want to make sure we can hit our 5 gallon target. We might hit it this year but I kind of doubt it. Probably will be between 3 and 4.

Guest cabin under stars

Its always a learning process and eventually we will figure it all out… then we will change it and have to learn it all again 🙂

In the video I mentioned I would not be posting a finishing video this year as I had done one last year and the year before. Here is last years video

Building the cinder block maple syrup arch in the sugar shack

After digging out last week we got to work getting ready for maple syrup season. We dug our way in with a little help and inspected the buildings.

We still had to remove additional snow from my father-in-laws place. This week we tackled the roof. Over the next couple of weeks snow removal will be a big part of our chores.

Snow removal

It seems like this winter goes on and on. In order to tap the trees this year (video will be uploaded later this week) we had to snowshoe around. There’s about 3 feet of hard pack snow currently on the ground. We attempted to pack the trails with the snowshoes and go in without them but that provided challenging at best.

guest cabin

This week they are calling for daytime highs to be in the 40’s and night lows in the 20’s. Perfect weather for sugaring. This will also hopefully put a dent in the snow pack.

Sugar Shack

Next week we should get started on boiling so stay tuned.


Third week in on the Sugar shack project. This week we installed purlins on the roof, the steel roof and skylight and framed one of the walls in.

We should be further along but have just been too busy… plus turkey season started… so for the next couple of weeks we will be spending mornings trying to harvest one.

Kind of a short update this week. Like I said… we have been busy…

Building the sugar shack part 2

What a great fall weekend. The leaves are at their peak and there was a nice layer of frost on the ground. We could not ask for a nicer weekend.

One the sugar shack project we progressed nicely. We build a knee wall over the front opening to support the roof and add a little height to the project. We picked up some Amish 2×6’s during the week and used them to frame up the roof rafters. The project is coming along and should be completed in a couple of weeks.

On a side note I mentioned on the the video that after being asked many times I have decided to start selling my photography. I never really wanted to spend the time to take orders, print, matt, frame and ship things so I found someplace that will do that all for me. If your so inclined I have a site setup where prints can be ordered here, Chris Bordeleau Photography. These are not cabin related directly but many of the photos come from our property or the ride to and from the cabin.

Our Off the Grid Cabin, Projects and what ever else I feel like putting here