Rick Rayburn

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since Sep 12, 2019
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Recent posts by Rick Rayburn

Hi Matt and all,
Matt if I new how to put pictures on this post I would, but I don't.
Thought I'd update you since our last conversation. We're now over 4 gallons of syrup.
Our trees have been running slow all week due to the weather, however next week looks to be in the mid-40s during the day and just below freezing every night. Should be quite a busy week in the Sugarbush!
I also thought you all might be interested in a book called The Maple Sugar Book by Helen and Scott Nearing. It has a lot of very interesting history regarding Maple sugaring and also explains all aspects of The Craft from tapping to Boiling down and even marketing the product if one so chooses. Helen and Scott were pioneers in homesteading and have several very good books on the subject.
Till next time.....
8 months ago
Hi Matt,
Rick and Rose here, we live in East Central Minnesota on a hundred acres of mixed Forest.
We live in a small non electric log cabin and do our maple syruping pretty much the way you guys do.
We usually tap about 40 or 50 trees. We use number 10 cans with wire bails that we made for collecting the sap at the trees. For spiles I take small Maple branches(about an inch diameter) that have bumps on them as bail hooks and cut them into 5 inch spiles.
I drill a quarter inch hole in each spile, put a bevel on the front bottom for the drips to collect on and use a tool called a hollow auger for putting 1/2 inch spuds on the end that goes into the tree.
We use an antique 6 in brace for drilling the holes.
We also use food grade 5 gallon pails for carrying the sap from the trees to the cabin, however I use a hand-carved shoulder yoke made out of Aspen for carrying the pails this is fairly comfortable probably compared to the Rope type setup your using.. Like you folks we try to keep it simple and traditional.
We boil our sap on an antique wood fired kitchen range. We usually produce 7 to 12 gallons of syrup for our personal use. We've just been using candy thermometers and for our elevation we let the syrup get to 217 degrees and then hot pack the syrup into hot jars. The jars usually seal in a few hours and after 10 years of doing this we haven't had any go bad although we do tend to get some interesting large crystals at the bottom of some jars, which is okay because the crystals like I said are interesting and can also be eaten as hard candy..
Just last evening we jarred 11 pints from about 48 gallons of sap which is just about 35 to 1. Hi
That's about all for now our sap season has just started..
8 months ago
David, I agree solar lighting is a great way to go, we just wanted to keep it simple, low maintenance and rustic here.
During the warmer months we don't need much Refrigeration and if we do we use an ice chest.
The balance of the year in Minnesota you don't need a refrigerator it's just that cold, as Mark Twain once said Duluth Minnesota has 11 months of winter and 30 days of darn cold weather, "nuff said" . As for cooking we have a wood cook stove that works just as well has any other type and the fuel is just lying around on the forest floor.

1 year ago
Jain, I think the solar electricity is a great way to go, we just balanced the initial cost and the maintenance along with the aesthetics and decided to just keep it simple. Our cabin is nestled in the middle of 100 acres of deep Forest on a Creek.
The original idea was to have a secluded cabin that Blended as authentically as possible with the surroundings and discover. just what the land could provide for us, while we attempted to impact the environment as little as possible.
1 year ago
Jeremy, it's interesting you should mention Helen and Scott I still have my 1970s copy of their living the good life. We used their slip form method when we built our underground Root Cellar, we've also use much of their information for gardening and Maple syruping in the spring. They were quite the couple.
As for a favorite crop? My wife says potatoes, with me it's a toss-up between the drying beans and carrots. The carrots probably winning by a nose because we managed to put straw over the carrot Patch and dig them up all the way through the winter into the spring , and in Minnesota the winters can get to 35 below zero. For me there's nothing much more incredible then pulling up fresh carrots on Christmas Day when the rest of the world is frozen solid.
1 year ago
Mart, our cabin is electricity free, we do have cars so most of the time we plug into them to charge the cell phone I'm using to write this post.
We do have a small Honda 1000 generator if need arises. We also have older jonsered chainsaws for cutting wood and building and older John Deere tractors for field work and wood hauling. The older equipment is by far the most reliable and durable as evident by the fact that the tractors are from the 1950s and the chainsaws from the 1980s.
We try to keep it as simple as possible, but also practical.
1 year ago
Living off grid shouldn't be a means of escaping a perceived Armageddon, it should be an exercise in understanding a person's relationship to the world we inhabit. Each person or group needs to decide what Comfort level they believe is necessary to live a happy and full life while considering their impact on the environment.
One thing that people often forget is that prior to the 20th century everyone not only lived off grid but without electricity.. it must be assumed then that people lived happy and full lives without it..
My wife and I have lived non-electric for over 30 years and have not found it wanting. We built our own 5 room Log Cabin a two-story log Barn, we heat and cook with wood, use  kerosene for light and grow the major portion of our food organically.. it's a lot of work but the satisfaction is beyond words. We have found throughout the years that we can accomplish almost anything we put our minds to.
Comments or requests welcome.
Rick and Rose Rayburn .
1 year ago
Hi Conor, I'll see if I can round up some pictures to post.. as for how old our cabin is the first room was built in 1980 and just one room we continued ,to build on as we had the time and could afford it. The last room was added in about 1995.
We haven't had to do much maintenance ,every few years we oil the outside logs. The big issue with logs is to keep them dry, we did have some issues where water got into the logs and caused some decay we were able to correct this problem in various ways by using cement patching or log inserts. The main thing Is to put a good roof on and be generous with the overhangs.
In 1980 I bought a 40-acre piece with a large amount of Popplar, what you might call Aspen, we went directly to the woods and built the cabin using the native trees and sand from a creek on the property for footings and chinking.. it's been a very enjoyable and economical way to keep a roof over our heads for nearly 40 years..
Connor, don't know if this will help but my wife and I built a log cabin and barn over the years ,we've been homesteading for over 30 years.
We build all of our log structures with little more than book learning and Sweat Equity, one of the best books I've ever seen and used while building our structures is Hand Hewn by William C Leitch.
The book discusses log building technique log building tools and much of the philosophy behind traditional log building.
The book may not be in print any longer but can probably be found online.