BRAINERD, Minn. — 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 for Lindberg.

"I just gather the sap and boil it for gifts for my kids," he said.

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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.