Today Mothers Day was set in a dense fog, a splendid day for a walk in the tranquil outdoors. I strapped Silas to my back and off we went into the obscure mist. As we crossed the field we could hear Juncos chirping to each other, likely busy catching insects in the wet grass. The cackling of a Northern Flicker echoed through the trees as we entered the forest. Our destination was the Brook winding its way through the forest.
Once we reached the brook Silas was excited to throw rocks and dump handfuls of wet sand into the water. If he had his way we would have stayed here all day, digging in the sand and pitching rocks, but as with anything fun it must come to an end.
When we were done with the play we washed our hands and off we went again to explore the surrounding forest. We left the babbling brook behind and headed back into the woods, it’s important to keep moving otherwise the black-flies will accumulate and start feasting.
As we came out of the forest we discovered a small patch of snow, the vestige of a once 8 foot deep drift deposited there just over a month ago. Silas was anxious to get out of the carrier and play in the snow, again he would have liked to stay here forever but we had to get back home.
The fog had dissipated considerably from when we had first trekked into the forest. A gentle breeze now greeted us as we crossed the field.
The fresh air, play, and steady bouncing motion of the carrier always puts Silas to sleep on these outings. Time to get home so he can have a good nap. When we arrived home Mama had also had a good nap ….. a relaxing and well deserved rest for Mama on Mothers Day.
We’ve finally had a spell of nice weather with temperatures reaching plus 18 Celsius yesterday. When the weather turns nice like this it always seems that there are endless things to get done. Most pressing now is the preparation to start construction on the house.
I’ve been able to get onto our property and have begun working in the woods again. A few trees must be removed since they are far to close to the buildings and will inevitably topple over. They are valuable building material and will become important components in our new home. For now I just peel them in preparation for milling at a later date. The thinner poles will be used for fencing and other landscape components around the property. The new clearing will become our garden area.
Snowdrops and Crocuses have been in bloom for some time and very soon a flurry of daffodils will explode with color through last years brown leaf litter. A pleasing sight and a reminder to take a moment and enjoy the simple beauty and peace surrounding us in our busy life.
Yesterday we spent a day with our kids and the students from the Middle River School visiting a farm in Margaree that makes Maple Syrup. It was a fantastic outing and everyone enjoyed themselves immensely. Even though we home-school, our kids have been invited to participate in activities at this little school. It provides wonderful interaction for them and we will integrate them into this local two classroom school in September.
With Silas strapped to my chest we joined the troop and slowly hiked up the mountain following the Tap Line winding through the maple forest. The trail gradually steepened as we ascended and the main Tap Line came in handy for many, assisting the ascent up the steep section.
The kids had a blast and as you can see Angela (the Middle River School principle) is also beaming on the hike. There are 600 maple trees tapped on this slope providing an abundance of sweet nectar for many future pancakes and other delights.
Everyone, both young and old, made it up the steep grade. The descent back down a side trail was much easier. A wonderful reward awaited us at the bottom. After having some snacks/lunch we were greeted to Maple Syrup Taffy. A pot of hot maple syrup was brought out. Everyone made a clean snowball and some hot syrup was drizzled on top. With the help of a wooden stick the cooled syrup was wrapped around the end creating a delicious sweet natural lollipop.
We also had an opportunity to bottle some fresh syrup and without any hesitation we purchased one.
Later in the afternoon I picked up some local farm eggs and made homemade pancakes topped with what else but fresh Mountain Nectar (Margaree Maple Syrup). A SWEET day overall in Cape Breton.
We love to see our forest grow with the addition of new trees every week.
Here is the link so you can all view. http://createyourforest.ca/visit/turn-a-new-leaf
We started this forest project after seeing so much of the forest around us being cut down. We once enjoyed our hikes through these lush forests with our children, the beauty of the moss, lady slippers, nests and so much more to explore. Much of this is now gone., but we can do our part and give back and so can you. The trees that are being planted in this new forest will never be cut down and will contribute to a renewed Boreal Forest environment.
A big thank you for all the contributions so far.
Another reason for this initiative is to help offset the shipping aspect of our products which has always been of concern to us. It was so disheartening to send out single item parcels on a daily basis knowing full well that the same customer would be ordering more single items from me later on or from other sources elsewhere in North America. Think about the impact this shipping creates overall. When I send out one item through the mail, I am using envelopes, cello packages, tape, shipping receipts and lets not forget the gas required for this one item in it’s delivery. We feel this is far too much embodied energy required for just one item, what a waste!
Sales at Highland Wood and Turn A New Leaf Designs will contribute a tree to this forest.
To make a positive change that will directly impact our concerns with shipping I am in the process of phasing out single item shipments. The Turn A New Leaf Designs shop will now have listings of larger quantity diapering items and accessories. This does not include the already large items like bedding. To further contribute and enhance our natural environment and as an incentive for our clients we instituted this “Plant a Tree” concept.
We are making this change within our business to better ourselves, our lifestyle, you as our customer and most importantly the world we all share.
Last week I went on a road trip with Liam into Halifax. I’d discovered an old Steton Jointer/Planer for sale at a price to good to pass up. This is a 2 in one machine sporting a huge 15″ jointing table with an 8″ x 15″ capacity planer underneath.
To access the planer the jointer tables swing back and out of the way. It’s a brute of a machine and weighs well over 1200 lbs.
It was easy to load onto the trailer with a forklift, but once I got it home I didn’t have that luxury available. I took the whole unit apart piece by piece. This also gave me the opportunity to inspect everything and to see what needs replacing or repairing, which is usually inevitable with a machine of this age. There are several issues, some broken castings and worn out parts but with a bit of ingenuity and alterations this will become a central piece of equipment for the many tasks at hand in finishing our house. After that it can become a boat anchor.
As a craftsman I place a significant amount of value upon the various tools required to create things or provide services. Many tools are a basic necessity for my work, among them only a select few have intrinsic values bestowed upon them. Today two very special tools arrived in a wonderful Easter parcel sent by my mother. One is a small hand broad axe and the other a Latthammer. A Latthammer is the tradition style of hammer used in Germany by Carpenters, Joiners and Roofers. It has a square striking face while the other end sports a pointed spike. The spiked end is intended for various purposes such as maneuvering hard to grasp lumber and timbers, or as a steadying and climbing assistant around the building site.
This hammer and axe came into my possession on a rather sad note. My father passed very suddenly and unexpected in late January of this year. I feel fortunate that I was able to be at his side before he passed, and to be there to console my mother and siblings. While helping my mother to adjust and settle back into her new environment I discovered the axe and hammer carefully stowed in their respective places on the wall of my fathers work area. It is said that a smell or taste can evoke memories from ones childhood. Seeing the hammer hanging on the wall immediately brought to mind my fathers words and the image of his powerful hands deftly making the hammer sing as it drove nails into place.
Of these two items the hammer is most significant, my father brought this with him when he and my mother immigrated to Canada from Germany in 1961. It was the hammer used in building their house in the 70′s, a tool my father cherished and used with delight. He admired it’s quality and would proudly display the polished unmarred striking face which had driven countless thousands of nails through 5 decades of rigorous use. Seeing the hammer hang there I immediately envisioned a new purpose for it. Rather than become a dusty relic among the many other forlorn tools on my fathers wall it will be the hammer used in building our house this year. A fitting legacy bestowed upon a simple tool.
The axe brings to mind a different perspective of the tools on our family farm throughout my childhood. It is one of the countless tools acquired from the many small farm auctions that occurred throughout the 60′s and 70′s. A sad reminder to the demise of so many family farms at that time, the loss of a unique and sustainable lifestyle and the institution of mega-farms, quota’s and government intervention. This like so many other tools became an item used on a daily basis to accomplish specific tasks prevalent on a busy small farm. In some respects these tools were used somewhat inappropriately for their designed purposes however they did accomplish many task. This axe was designed to be used as a tool for finishing hewn timbers or other refined chopping tasks mainly involved in log and timber construction. On our farm it ended up being used as an all round chopping tool including making kindling, chopping wood, de-limbing trees and of late to help peel poles for my mothers trellises. The tools on our farm where always respected and well cared for, something that our father instilled upon us. I quickly rummaged through the old shed and found some appropriate tools for my mother to use as a replacement to this axe. This wonderful tool will become my right hand when I refine the timbers and logs for our house this summer.
I miss my father greatly, his appreciation of life, hard labors and deep love for his family are profoundly rooted within me. These tools are an Ode to his hard labors as he forged out an existence for his family amid the wilderness of central Alberta.
In loving memory of my Father …. Heinrich Krieger …. 1933 – 2013
Once again we are under a deep blanket of snow. The second storm in a week buried everything under 2 feet of fresh snow with huge drifts over six feet deep in places. We were “Off Grid” for most of the day on Friday, caused by high winds knocking big trees over the transmission lines.
Early this morning I strapped Silas to my back, threw on my snowshoes and plodded through the fields and woods. Spring seems to have gone back into hibernation. The only respite now from this wintery wonderland is the warmth of the sun on our cheeks and enjoying the lengthening days.