after these last two years of making our own maple syrup (we've been tapping sugar maples in the neighborhood) I have a very big appreciation for all that goes into the production of this sweet, sweet goodness. on a small scale like ours, the necessary wood acquisition alone, to feed those hungry sap fires all day long.... just that required hours and hours of our (by which I mean Mike's) time. and then there was the cutting of said wood, the hauling, the tapping and checking of sap buckets daily (except for those stretches when it never got above freezing day or night thanks to that tricky polar vortex business), the fire-tending and sap refilling..... wow.
I like to joke with Mike, saying "well, pa- we just can't go nowhere else during sugarin' season"... but it's actually quite true, at least for the days when we're boiling off the sap.
we finished the year with a grand total of about 4 1/4 gallons. 2 1/2(ish) of which we are keeping (that's about what we use in a year- not just for pancakes of course, but in granola and other baking as well), a bit was shared with the homeowners whose trees we tapped, and the rest (about 1 1/2 gallons) we've sold by word of mouth to friends.
if you've got sugar maples in your backyard, on your property, or even in your neighborhood- I highly recommend this as a fun (time consuming, yes- but in a very satisfying and fun way) winter tradition for you and yours. I'm happy to chat more about the how-to's of it all if anyone would like.