Spring sugaring season was long this year, though the sap did not flow continuously. The temperatures here in Northeast Minnesota started poking above freezing during the day early March, but then we encountered another cold snap that halted the flow. So the spiles were in our school-yard maple trees for over a month this season. Friday I collected the last of the sap, pulled the spiles and gathered the buckets with my students. Yesterday, on a warm and sunny day I boiled the sap to syrup at home.
After our long Minnesota winter, spending a warm and sunny day outdoors was absolutely delightful.
I have learned too, over the years, approaching the experience as a hobbyist, that I can boil 20 gallons of sap (or less) in about 8 hours. This yields enough syrup to share with my kindergarten class at our annual celebratory classroom pancake party, and a few pints to savor over the year. More sap would extend the boiling time. I would get more syrup, but it makes the experience more burdensome (boiling into the evening time or night even). I have found my "happy place" with this small-scale approach and I look forward to the experience and products of my efforts every year.
If you are interested in learning more about the process, check out this article that I wrote for mothering.com: