My wife's uncle has been making his own for a number of years now. What started as a simple question, his son had asked what kind of trees they had on their property years ago, has become a hobby he looks forward to every spring. This hobby has the added advantage of keeping old world artisan skills alive and well as he teaches area youths about collecting sap and turning it into syrup.
The question: What kind of trees do you have on the property? This led to them doing a general survey, counting the trees and to gain a rough idea of what was there. What they found was a large amount of sugar maples, the best kind of tree for maple syrup.
Usually maple season is at the start of spring. The cold nights cause the sap to run down to the roots of the trees and the warmer days cause the sap to run up to the branches. After drilling a hole into the trunk the spile is used to fill collecting buckets. The more trees available means more sap to harvest. At this time he is working with roughly 100 taps.
From the collecting buckets he pours the sap into large plastic trash cans. It has been cold enough recently for some of the sap to freeze. Or at least for the water portion of the sap to freeze, sugar doesn't freeze. This can make some of the work easier as you can pull the ice out instead of having to boil out the water.
While he has some working in the boiler he has more sitting in pots getting warm so he doesn't have to wait for it to come to a boil. Time savers are very important in this lengthy process.
Aside from just being great on pancakes, this is a great addition to brews like cider or even various beers. It brings a flavor that you won't find anywhere else.
Time for a pint...