It's been a very busy two weeks in our first maple sugaring season here on the farm. We have 8 trees tapped–all in the yard, so we don't have to trek that far–using the old-fashioned bucket approach, and have processed 90+ gallons of sap into just over 2 gallons of syrup. Two of the trees have had great runs so far (the aptly named Gusher and Sappy, and yes, they all have names), 4 have done okay, and 2 haven't run well at all.
We have been boiling the sap down over our firepit in the backyard and finishing it in the house, which–with careful attention–has not been as messy as I was afraid of. The sap from the trees that were running great has already begun to turn golden, and that may mean their run is nearing its end. But the weather has turned bitter cold, so all the trees have slowed. Now when we check the buckets there are more sap-cicles instead of sap!
My boyfriend and I have both caught terrible colds during this time, probably not helped by the exposure to the smoke and cold from being outside boiling for hours on end. We have decided already that next year we will build a small sugar shack to make the whole process easier. It's not our intention to go into large-scale production; we just enjoy making it, for ourselves and for sharing with friends and family. Like any other homegrown process, it sure is a labor of love.