When Vietnam era veteran Ray Lindberg, 71, of Brainerd tried to boil his maple sap last year, it was a mess. It boiled over at home and Lindberg was left with nothing but sticky appliances.
This year, Andy and Sue Cairns offered to help Lindberg with his 100 gallons of sap he collected from the maples trees in his backyard. The Cairns are veteran sugar bush people, collecting hundreds of gallons of sap and boiling it over a wood fire in their north Brainerd yard.
The offer to bring his sap and blend it with the Cairns’ was a welcome relief to the 71-year-old.
"I just gather the sap and boil it for gifts for my kids," he said.
Not only is Lindberg among friends, he trusts the expertise of the Cairns who have learned from their mistakes through the years. Tapping the maple trees began in early March but Ray's trees in his backyard really began to flow in the last week. Maple syrup people wait for the late winter, early spring weather to trigger the maple trees to produce the flow of sap.
According to Lindberg, "The best weather for sap is below freezing nights and warm days to begin the process."
It is unknown how much maple syrup Lindberg will end up with. This week, Lindberg went home with five pints. The sweet season is not over yet.
1/6: Filtered maple syrup from Ray Lindberg's sap runs into a pan Monday, March 29, 2021, at the Cairn home in north Brainerd. Temperature is critical for the filtration process before the syrup is ladled into jars and sealed. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
2/6: Freshly bottled maples syrup cools in jars Monday, March 29, 2021, after being heated and filtered. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
3/6: Ladling hot filtered syrup into pint jars, Monday, March 29, 2021, Ray Lindberg sees the final product of his labor from three days of collecting sap from maple trees in his yard in rural Brainerd. All of Lindberg's syrup is destined for his children as gifts. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
4/6: Ray Lindberg collects maple sap in his yard in rural Brainerd Thursday, March 25, 2021. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
5/6: Ray Lindberg collects maple sap in his yard Thursday, March 25, 2021, in rural Brainerd. He collects about 60-70 gallons of sap which makes about 10 pints of maple syrup. He gives the syrup to his children. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
6/6: Ray Lindberg pours hot maple syrup into a filter Monday, March 29, 2021, at the Cairn home in north Brainerd. The syrup is filtered at high temperatures and reheated to be bottled. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch .
I was raised on a farm in western Minnesota where I participated in 4-H, high school sports, and everything that farm kids do for fun after chores. Graduated from Ridgewater Community College with an AA degree and my first taste of newspapering. I worked a summer on the Ortonville Independent as a reporter and photographer.