Sugarmaker Profiles

  •  Father and son sugaring team Rick Hoburn and Richard Hoburn of Enosburg, Vt. inside the sap holding room at their new sugarhouse. Eight CDL tanks, each with a 9,100 gallon capacity for sap storage. They run their cap to 21 percent concentrate.

  •  The pipeline system at Rick’s Sugarhouse in Enosburg, Vt. Sap mostly travels through 2 inch black pipe, connected with stainless fittings. Hoburn strives to maintain 26 inches of vacuum on the system at all times.

  •  Inside the pump room. Richard Hoburn said there will be eight 20hp pumps on the system, with a series of primary pumps matched with backups, in case of failure.

  •  Jumping the lines. Hoburn uses a line jump technical that he says offers many advantages. “If a line gets froze, it keeps the vacuum on at all times,” he said. “And it lets out all the gases."

  •  The four-person crew at Rick’s Sugarhouse in Enosburg, Vt. From left, cousin Donny Teague, Rick Hoburn, Richard Hoburn and Autumn Hoburn. With some help from some neighbors and friends, this team manages a 50,000 tap operation, walking 7 miles of lines

Hoburn family making a big go of it in Northern Vermont

Army combat veteran and cancer survivor take on sugaring


ENOSBURG, Vt.—Service and family are the running themes at Rick’s Sugarhouse in Enosburg, Vt.

“You get that bug and it keeps growing and growing,” said Rick Hoburn who runs the operation with son, Richard, daughter, Autumn and cousin Donny Teague.

Hoburn started sugaring with just 25 buckets and a 4x4 pan but now the operation is one of the biggest in Vermont, aiming to have 50,000 taps in for this coming season and a potential to grow it to 80,000.

Hoburn, a cancer survivor who also battles the effects of Lyme disease, bought the 700 acres of sugarbush three years ago and broke ground on the massive sugarhouse in April 2020 during the peak of Covid.

In just six months, the sugarhouse was up and ready for boiling.

The woods were mostly tapped too, with help from neighbors like sugarmaker J.R. Sloan and Tom Patterson of CDL.

Sloan was the one who tipped off Hoburn that the property was available.

“The trees are big and it’s just a beautiful lot,” Hoburn said. “It was pretty much untouched.”

They calculated the property had 73 taps per acre.

Meanwhile, Richard Hoburn has been flying back and forth from his home in Bakersfield, Calif. back to Vermont to sugar with the family for four or five months of the year.

Richard served our country with great honor, fighting in Afghanistan as an infantryman.

His wife and two young children remain in California for the time being, he said, while he continues his 3,000 commute to work.

“People ask us all the time how were are able to manage all of this, and I guess you can say it’s because were Vermonters and also we’ve had a lot of people come and help us,” Hoburn said.  “Sugarmakers are all like that. They want to help and share information.”