When I was growing up we used to visit a farm in New Hampshire that was owned by friends of our family. It sat high on top of a beautiful mountain and was sprawled with hundreds of acres and rolling fields for the cows to graze.
Hidden away in the woods at the base of the mountain was a small sugar house where thousands of feet of plastic tubing carried fresh sap in from the maple trees that grew down the slope of the mountain.
It was then that I learned about making maple syrup, and although I do not have hundreds of trees tapped, I make enough syrup every year to supply our family and friends. Most people are amazed to learn that it takes over 30 gallons of sap to boil down 1 gallon of maple syrup.
The effort is very well worth it because you can't buy syrup this good in the supermarket. We were fortunate enough to have hundreds of Red Maple trees on the farm when we bought it. The majority of the trees are still another 5 years or so away from being able to safely tap them without damaging the tree, so for now we harvest as much sap as we can from the trees that surround our stream and house.
I started early this year due to the fact that the temperature during the day is above freezing, while dropping below freezing at night. The key to tapping maple trees is to pay attention to the weather. The season is usually very short, so it's best to harvest as much as you can before the nights stop freezing.