Back in school


Our Children are gone back into a public school. It’s the Middle River School that has only 2 class rooms. K-6 grade. The Middle River School is on the top 30 best schools in Canada. This school fosters a warm and genuine learning environment.  They believe that each student is special and needs teaching, motivation and nurturing to foster his/her own individual talents. I did not count the total children but I think it’s around 23. A very tiny 2 room school is just perfect for me and our kids. Our son Liam is the only student in grade 6. He is also the oldest and tallest student.

This school also grows a garden.


The garden they grow is very important. The students take care of this garden and in the Fall they decide what they will make with the items they grow. They sell the products at the market to raise money for the school and a portion of the money will go to a child in need. The students also put together a meal for all parents. This helps the children learn to grow food, market the food or products they make, math skills are used and the joy of coming together as a family and community.


I am so happy that our children have such a wonderful school to attend.

Saturday Morning…..”out the front door”


Silas is so excited to explore the yard and garden.  Our older children were still sleeping so Silas had us all to himself.


A heavy dew settled on everything during the night. The air is much cooler after several hours of heavy rain yesterday.  Everything is so quiet and calm early in the morning when “suddenly” we hear a  strange “HOWL” in the distance. Not sure what it was, maybe a coyote.


Kitty and Tuttie (our dog) play tag and have mock fights as they always do. Looks like the cat knows the dog is not allowed in the garden.

aSilas discovers one of his favorite toys and dips his hands into the cold standing water. We love days like this, Late Summer weather is crisp, not as many black flies or mosquitoes as the days grow shorter.

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.


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.


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.

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

Our growing forest


We love to see our forest grow with the addition of new trees every week.

Here is the link so you can all view.

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.

Ode to my Father

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

Today …..up here on MacMillan Mountain


Making fresh Soy Milk for Silas is a daily activity, it’s much easier and cheaper than owning a cow and he loves drinking this.


Two bottles finished and more beans soaking for tomorrows batch. This soy milk is so much better than even the organic store bought stuff which has a ton of unhealthy additives.


Snow, snow and more snow,  maybe later some rain if the weatherman is accurate. It’s pretty stuff but makes our move a bit more challenging.


Add a bit of wind to the snow and you get a supreme frosted look to your house.


Peeking through the trees along our driveway. I’ll miss the daily strolls through snow filled meadows and forest up here once we’ve move down to Middle River.




Topping Out

The last of the heavy framing is done for the shed/workshop, with the ridge and rafters firmly in place. I’ve made it a tradition throughout my career to fasten an evergreen bough to the ridge of my buildings once the rafters are all in place. “Topping Out” is a signal that the uppermost members of the structure are in place, all heavy framing is complete and most important the bough is a token of appreciation to the forest which provided the materials that went into creating the frame.

It has been the wettest September on record, greatly hampering the progress with construction. With fair weather yesterday and today I made quick work of placing the ridge beam and rafters. I pre-cut all the blocking that fastens the rafters to the ridge and top plate.  Several hundred trips up and down the ladder and the rafters are up.

I’ve never been an advocate for “toe-nailing” any framing members when building a house. Toe-nailing is minimal at best, yet it is extensively used in modern construction. I always devise a method to properly nail any framing member in place, thus the blocking for the rafters.

This not only holds the pieces in place it also straightens out any twist it may have. With precisely cut blocks layout is extremely easy and once I fastened the final rafter in place I had less than a 1/16″ deviation in my final measurement. I know it’s not a cabinet I’m building but I aim to be within a sixteenth of an inch with all my rough construction.

It would have been nice to sheet the building in before roof assembly, however with pending rain I really want to get the roof in place. The rafters were notched so the sheeting will still slide into place properly sealing the walls top plates.