One of my favorite tools
Baltic Birch and template edge.
Montessori Floor bed and 4 Play Gyms cut out and ready for edge treatment
Pine shelving ready for mortise and tenon joints.
The cutting Edge
The New Year came in like a Lion, snow, snow and more snow along with cold temperatures and high winds. Even with all this crazy weather it is enjoyable to be outside.
We make snow caves and tunnels in the drifts and snow piles, it’s an endless playground and the caves provide shelter from the blistering wind.
I’m gradually running out of space to pile all the snow from the driveway, especially around the mill which is slowly disappearing behind 7 foot high piles of snow and drifts.
Once done with outdoor activities there is hot Turkey soup and a warm fire to melt away the chills. The extended forecast is calling for warmer weather and rain ….. I’ll have to put away the shovel and snowshoes and get out the umbrella.
We’ve had a fair bit of real winter weather lately, two feet of snow and counting plus a dash of rain to top of the fresh snow. Yesterday morning we were greeted to a beautiful sunrise after some major snow. This was short lived as the weather turned white once more.
The view this morning is quite different, yet pretty in its own way.
Nature has such a eloquent manner of decorating herself for a Yuletide spirit. Cones, Icicles and a frosting of snow embellish the trees with a festive ambiance.
Along with all the other hustle and bustle around the house shoveling piles of snow has become the main activity over the past week. The mill has sat silent for quite a while now, hope it doesn’t feel neglected.
Maybe later today, if time permits, I’ll take the kids sledding. School has been cancelled for the last two days and they are going totally bonkers not to mention driving Tracey and myself nuts.
Now that a routine has been created with the kids in school again I’ve fallen into a daily ritual of taking Silas for an extended walk through the woods and meadows around here.
Silas explodes with excitement as I prepare him for our adventure. Outside we are greeted by a heavy dew that has settled on everything overnight and rubber boots are in order. The cool nights help keep the pesky bugs away so we can enjoy an unhindered stroll. We begin our trip down the path behind the barn and into the woods.
It’s a big world out here for this little “man” and countless stops are made along the way to explore anything new and intriguing. Once down the path we usually enter the woods. The trees here are pine which were intensively block planted in the mid to late 70’s to replace the forests decimated by the spruce bud worm outbreak at the time. A pest that was created and propagated by poor forest management practices at the time which continue to this day. Anyways I’m digressing here and will save this rant for a later post. Once we enter these woods Silas has free range to explore and play among the trees.
The forest floor in these woods is almost completely void of any undergrowth due to the dense canopy the trees create, allowing very little sunlight in. Also contributing to this virtual dead zone is the dense mat of pine needles on the ground. We follow the straight rows of trees for at least half a mile before making a slow detour back out among the more densely packed natural forest. The world viewed through Silas’s eyes is much different than that of grownups and I enjoy taking this time to get down and absorb his perspective.
After a couple or three miles of strolling among our wilderness we slowly saunter back. He is never very enthusiastic to return home but with a little coaxing he plods back up to the house.
Tracey enjoys the free time she gets while Silas is out of the house, this provides much needed time for her to catch up on errands and orders she has to complete. Silas will be two years old next month and the boundless energy he now shows is just a precursor of what to expect over the next few years. I just hope he will continue to enjoy strolling through the woods and meadows with his dad when he is older.
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.
Silas 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.
I needed to change this up a bit today and take a day off from the sewing machine.
What a great day to package up the remaining of our Handmade soaps. We will be selling our soaps at some Fall markets here and I can not wait. Meeting and talking to people about what we do and things we make is always a great way to know our community.
Our hand made soaps are loaded with goodness….. Olive Oils, Hemp Oils, Coconut Oils, Veg. Oils, Cocoa Butter, Lanolin and different herbs infused in teas.
What kind of things do you do to change up your daily routine?
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.
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.