Update …. since April

This has been one of the busiest Springs we’ve ever had. There’s been no time to update our blog so here is a quick photo compilation of some of the happenings that have transpired over the past couple months.

In early spring I began cleaning up and clearing a bit more space for our garden area and septic field.

clearingA large amount of hardwood for firewood came from this clearing. I was also able to get several nice softwood timbers for lumber towards the construction of our house.

stumpsA field of stumps was created

stumps-1

Once we had removed all the material from our clearings we brought in an excavator and the stumps were removed and piled up. stumps-gone

Now we can begin landscaping and start planting and creating gardens. Tracey is extremely excited to start cleaning up and build gardens. stumps-gone-1

While all this was going on I also enlarged our garden plot at home, more than doubling its previous size. garden

The garden is doing well, we have all the usual vegetables and I decided to put in a big bed of Sugar Beets this year. It was a staple crop on our farm when I was young, sugar beet syrup was made with them and used as a sweetener much like honey. garden1

We’ve harvested lots of mint and radishes so far, the spinach and borage is also ready now. mint

On June 3rd twelve new members were added to our family. chickens

At that time they were a bunch of tiny fuzzy peepers, they are now feathery active little runners and flyers in their small mobile run. chicken-run

They love the bugs and tender clover leaves and other greens in their mobile enclosure. juveniles

The mill has been very busy since April. I’ve cut up all the logs that were accessible from our property, creating 2 big piles of timber. mill

During the winter many large trees were blown down. I was fortunate to be able to salvage a huge maple tree from our neighbors property, which I cut up into large planks and dimensional stock. maple

The 2″ x 12″ planks will become stair treads for our house, the other material will be for cabinetry. 300

Since building the saw and drying sheds many people have asked if I build these to sell. I’ve always turned down requests up until about a month ago when Tracey’s uncle inquired about one followed by a neighbor requesting one. I caved and committed myself to building these two. shed

This 4′ x 8′ shed is for a temporary electrical service. shed-2

These are just a few of the things that we’ve done. We still regularly make batches of soap, pick wild herbs and tend to the numerous other daily chores and commitments. I’m now allotting specific portions of each day to work on building our house. lupins

Spring has passed into Summer. There never seems to be enough time in a day to get everything done. The school year is over, Where has the time gone?

 

 

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My goals for 2014

It’s been a year and a half since we purchased our land. A lot of work has been done to get us closer to actually living there. I found the past summer was hard for me, only because I want to be living there, gardening, exploring the forest, thriving from our land together as a family. Oh, the things that I dream about each time I step foot onto our property. It’s overwhelming but exciting all in one. A workable portion is now cleared and full of stumps and root piles. So much snow now blankets it all.  My one goal for 2014 is to have a portion landscaped for a place to start our garden and another space for our children to enjoy.

Here are some other of my goals:

Spend more time reading my books on herbs and gardening. I wish to also spend more time reading other books here on my book shelf. The hard part for me is finding that extra time. Goal #2…. find more time for myself.

2Henry gave me these new books below for Christmas. He is already an expert in herbs and gardening but I too wish to learn so much more about them.

1We will need to budget ourselves and save some extra money over the next few months so we can pull out the stumps and landscape. I’ve already started a list of the seeds and I can’t wait to order them to begin seeding them out for spring. I want to learn more about using the herbs we grow and the many different things we can make with them.

3Our mantel already holds several infused herbs in preparation to add them into our handmade soaps and balms. Winter months are the perfect time to take in as much information as I can before our land is ready for the many plants we will be propagating there.

Hectic

  It’s been a hectic month, too much to do with not enough time in the day to do everything that has to be done. The weather has been pleasant and outdoor activity has been very enjoyable, no more black-flies or mosquitoes to contend with.

silas

Silas enjoys his time outside in the fields, woods and yard. Large piles of leaves are gathered around the yard and neighboring kids have been seen floating around.

floating

The saw-mill finally arrived and the milling has begun. The pile of logs is now revealing its inner beauty.

mill

So far I’ve only been able to slice up a few logs, full time milling will have to wait till other errands around the house and property are completed.

lumber

On a more sour note I’ve also had to spend time dealing with the mess left in the wake of logging adjacent to our property. The land owner (proprietors of Hunter Mountain Chalets) and the logging company (C.D. Blue Forestry Ltd.) have completely destroyed our road that accesses the back reaches of our property. Along with this they have severely compromised the integrity of the main road up the mountain along with the ghastly mess on the raped piece of land just below us. Its disgusting that these forestry companies hide behind glitzy websites that only show choice photos and descriptions of their work. At the same time hiding behind associations like the Nova Scotia Landowners and Forest Fibre Producers Association   http://www.nslffpa.org/  An organization that stipulates certain guidelines for proper logging procedures and forest management, however seems like very few companies registered with this group even remotely follow any of these guidelines.

road

What used to be road along our property has now become a quagmire and resembles more of a ditch or eroded river bed than a road. The muck is over a foot deep and pools of running water have developed everywhere.

muck

The roadbed has been pushed aside and is a foot to two lower than its previous level. The rape of our forests and abuse of public property in our area is a contentious issue however it requires direct action and I will take every available means at my disposal to deal with it. Heads are going to roll so to speak and I will post further developments as they happen.

Saw Shed

 

Yesterday and Today, among other tasks and errands, I’ve taken some time to build a small shed for the sawmill which will arrive soon. So far this little structure has been made with scrap rough lumber except for the floor which is left over 2 x 6 material  and plywood from previous work.

saw-shedAll the framing is either simple lap joints or mortise and tenons. I’ve used bolts and lag screws in place of wooden dowels. I’ve also applied a protective oil to the entire structure since we may be getting some wet weather in the next few days.

joints

If the weather does hold through the weekend I may be able to close in this shed and start setting up the platform assembly for the Mill.

saw-shed-1

Once the the Saw arrives the job of milling the logs into dimensional lumber and beams will begin. These logs and many more from our property will all go into building our house. I can’t wait to cut into the first log.

This week on the Mountain

Several days ago a monster once again entered the forest here on the Mountain. A Feller-buncher has started stripping the neighbors forest below our property, an ugly mess is gradually unfolding at our front door. The only thing we can hope for is that the damage won’t be too substantial and regrowth can develop quickly however from our experience we know this is at the best a pipe dream.

monster

In the meantime work continues at the building site. I ordered in a load of sand and moved a pile of gravel up to the house footings in preparation for more concrete work.

reay-to-mix

Early Sunday morning I began mixing cement, sand and gravel and by 4:00 PM just over 4 yards of concrete was in place, creating the wall that brings the lower section of the footing level with the upper portion. Once this concrete has cured the basement walls can commence.
underway

Finally for those of you that have been patiently awaiting the answer to the question in a previous post  ” What is the most important tool in the shop” 

The answer is the “BROOM” an all to often forgotten item in many shops.  We must remember that a clean organized shop is a reflection of both the creativity and work being done there. One of my favorite shops is The Granville Island Broom Company

Not Quite Grounded

This has been the hardest year for me, “my soul to speak”.

The first day Henry and I met over 12 years ago, we dreamed of having our own land and home in the forest. We would take long walks everyday throughout Edmonton trails and back allies, picking all kinds of flowers and weeds. Henry talked about each of them, teaching me their names and useful things one could do with all of them. I was sold on the wonders of such things from that moment. We planted our first herb garden together from seeds and watched it grow.

Trips to many greenhouses, Henry bought me many books about herbs and dried flowers, we would have long talks about one day taking those herbs and planting them on our very own land.

I dove into hanging and drying everything. Turning them into dried arrangements, bath products and such. Adding them into handmade paper, fragrant sachets, gifts for Christmas for everyone.

We moved many times in Edmonton. We dug up our herbs, leaving a little behind for the next, and replanted them again. Those herbs are no longer ours and left behind as we could not bring them to Cape Breton.

ap

We have been here in Cape Breton for 3 years now. Each Mother’s Day and Birthdays I only ask for seeds and Herbs to start again. I have had no or very little time to garden. Our few herbs are now planted here and there, temporary homes, “not quite grounded”.

c
Soapwort

We did buy that land in the forest last year and it is wonderful. However, I’m feeling a bit left out. Henry is amazing and talented. Clearing some land and building our home with his very own two hands. I long to put my hands to work on what we own. Digging them into our soil and starting a place to grow many things. I’m so antsy but I will need to wait till Spring next year. I have another Birthday coming up soon. It will be a lovely day going to town and picking up more Herbs to place here on our rental land.

I hope some stores have lots left for for me.

Mama

Cramped Creativity

I’ve been asked to build custom shelving on many occasions both past and present. This week I was finally able to create a functional piece in the “Dungeon” (aka … the basement work space). Working late hours in every inch of the 96 square feet of workspace, and at many times knee deep in wood shavings from hand planing, I was able to transform some rough pine boards into an appealing little shelf unit.  shelf2

Working in this closet sized space brings to mind the days when I had a much larger workspace and several apprentices. Prior to hiring any apprentice I would ask them one key question. What is the most important tool in the shop? It was a confusing question for every one of them. They would reply with answers like … the bandsaw, the jointer or the tablesaw, etc, etc… all of which are wrong of course. I’d make it simpler for them by telling them it was not a power tool. Who can spot the most important tool in the woodworking shop in the picture below?  If you need a hint I’ll post it in my next entry.

workbench