A beautiful sunny late winter's day, a perfect start to maple syrup season. Some friends of ours tap a few sugar maples in a home-scale maple syrup operation, so I went to help a little and document the start of the season. They had their toboggan loaded with the tools and buckets, and out we went.
First, they drill a hole, with an old family hand auger, carefully placed on the south-west side of the tree. And low enough that as the snow melts, you'll still be able to reach the buckets!
The spile goes in with a few taps of the hammer, and on at least one tree, the sap was dripping before we got the bucket hung.
Up go the buckets, and on goes the lid. Then you just need to wait for the sap to run. But we didn't have to wait long; the first few drips were accumulating as we finished.
They only tap a few trees near the house, but when we were finished, the sap run was underway, with buckets on more than a dozen trees waiting for the sugary sap to provide the basis of this year's syrup.