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


Firm Foot Hold

After many hours of sculpting and removing soil from the steep building site with the tractor I finally got down to the task of digging trenches for the footing of our house. I hammered and picked into the bedrock creating a stepped trench, wearing off an inch of steel from both the pick axe and mattock in the process.


By Monday (July 15th)  I had the forms in place and ready for the concrete. It ended up being one of the hottest days we’ve had this year, a blistering 35 degrees Celsius. The brutal task of moving, pouring and finishing 7 yards of concrete began at 11:00 AM and was done by 4:30 PM. Liam had come with me and was kept busy running for cold water from our little stream to quench the burning thirst from working in the heat.


With a steel reinforced 12″ x 20″ perimeter footing set into the bedrock our house will definitely have a firm foot hold, not to mention the 4500 PSI concrete used for this footing. Tomorrow the forms come off and the next phase of construction begins. More forms and concrete as I extend the lower portion of the stepped footing to meet the upper section with a stub wall. I’ll make sure to choose a cooler day to mix and pour this batch of concrete though.



Everything in the garden is coming up nicely with the warm damp weather. The humidity and heat over the past few days has made working outside a bit unbearable, especially since it’s necessary to wear long sleeves and pants along with a hoody in most cases to keep the bugs from eating you alive.


We finally received our certificate to “poop” on the mountain this week.  A document that states we can construct and install an onsite sewage disposal system as specified by the Province of Nova Scotia’s Environment Act. Eleven pieces of photocopied paper that cost $1500 and are based on a site evaluation that  took less than 10 minutes. 11 pieces of paper that have delayed all construction and progress at the building site. Now I can finally complete and submit our building plan for the Building Permit.


The reclaimed windows are installed in the shop and I’ve made proper storm doors for the entrance. The doors have a navy blue water base dye applied and were then sealed with a penetrating natural oil varnish. The trim is going up this week once I finish sealing all the frames.


Now we hope the weather will  cooperate as progress on the house commences.

Under Attack

Once again our mountainside will be under attack, the property bordering the south side of our driveway will be clear-cut in the coming weeks.


It’s a bit ironic that just prior to hearing the news from the neighbor about his intentions to clear-cut I’d spent several hours grading and spreading gravel on our drive.  Now the driveway will most likely be transformed into a mucky unsightly mess with the heavy equipment going through. In the above photo most if not all the trees to the right will be cut down, forever changing the tranquility of our entrance.


From a birds-eye view atop the tallest tree above our building sight you can see the property that will be impacted. The bottom red line is the neighbors property line at the edge of our drive. The red line through the center of the photo follows the forest canopy just above Rice Brook. Everything between the red lines will be clear-cut, this is the north slope of Rice Brook watershed. More than likely all the softwood on the other side of Rice Brook will also be cut. (the dark green trees above the red line up to the buildings in the distance) ….. for a clearer view click on the photo …..


The view from our windows will be drastically altered once the trees are gone. The land drops quickly a couple hundred feet down the mountain so we may gain a broader view of our lower surroundings, however I tend to believe more of an unsightly tangle of brush, muck and shattered trees will be in store as our future view, not to mention the increased exposure to the wind and elements.

Time keeps on slipping

It’s been a musical week with Kieth Mullins having a house concert at their new place on Hunters Mountain last Friday and Ian Foster having one at a neighbors house in Middle River last night. Both were wonderful and a nice respite from the work and a great chance to mingle with neighbors.

We  have a new addition to the family.  A red lady that boasts having 43 horses packed under her hood along with an antique back blade. Both these will help to speed up progress at the building sight.


With some new draft pins, a new center link, new bolts and pins the back blade is ready for some serious work. My back is feeling better already and the blisters on my hands are slowly disappearing, I hope I don’t turn into a softy.


The garden plot for our neighbor on Hunters Mountain is finally in. Hanna and Liam helped her yesterday, along with the occasional overbearing instructions from me. The rain expected from Hurricane Andria should help everything in the garden sprout up.


Spring is in full swing now and it’s hard to believe that we are fast approaching the second week of June already. Time slips by too fast and several bureaucratic delays have virtually halted work at the building site. In the meantime we can enjoy the wonderful blossoms of late spring and the whirring of June-bugs in the evening air.


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