Friday, July 21, 2017

A Dog Day Afternoon

Cooper is enjoying the summer. She especially loves the sun-warmed front yard.

Roll, roll. 
Squirm squirm 
Even an empty sour cream container is fun when it's nice out

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Pottery class

Chris has been taking another pottery class, this one more focused on different glazing and firing techniques. It's also given him the opportunity to use a pottery wheel (the last class was all about hand-building). 

The studio he's going to has many potters on site and the class has a bunch of students so filling up the kiln wasn't too hard. A full kiln is a happy kiln!
Getting ready to fire
There are many different firing techniques and they each give a different finish to the work. There is raku, which involves burning straw:
Raku
There sagar, which uses wood chips and chemicals and even copper wire.  And then there is regular high-firing which results in a food safe finish (if you use the right glaze).

He's had great fun learning new techniques to create change bowls, garlic keepers, ring bowls, statuary, and many miscellaneous type items.
The bee hive cap
Garlic keeper
A yarn bowl
Not everything has made it home yet so I don't have finished photos, but I did get some pictures of the cap for the log bee hive.
Placing the cap
This is a sagar finish 
Isn't it adorable?
He's actually enjoyed this class so much that we're looking at getting a kick wheel so we can turn stuff at home. Maybe we'll be able to convert the Nest into a pottery / art studio. A much better use for it than a storage shed.

Monday, July 17, 2017

More kitchen pulls

Two of the drawer stacks on the North wall are now complete! Woo-hoo!

First up, spoons. You've already seen close-ups of the top two drawers so I won't repeat the pictures of those. But here are the rest:




Couldn't resist a close-up of this!

Then knives:

Left side
Right side 



The final drawer stack on this wall will, of course, be forks. 


Friday, July 14, 2017

Lots of little stuff

Life isn't always about the big projects. It's amazing how much every day, normal, small stuff gets done in a week. For example:

Raked and seeded the small bare spots in the yard.

Leveled, raked, seeded, and mulched the newly graded sections of the yard.

Cleaned the chicken coop and turned the compost bins.

Walked the dog, every day, twice a day. While walking we: found a sour cherry tree that we had no idea was on the property; realized that the wild blueberry patch had grown extensively and was now producing wee blueberries; uncovered many new patches of raspberries; discovered a heavily used buck trail with antler rubs that dated back years. He's apparently grown quite a bit over the years as the scars are substantially higher on the trees as time has progressed.

Drove up north to visit Mom and Dad for a few days.

Visited the studio where Chris is taking a pottery class and saw a new art exhibit by a young potter.

Had a friend over for risotto with early vegetables from the garden; we got to enjoy the new fire pit too.

Celebrated Dad's birthday with friends and family - spicy chicken wings followed by white cake with boiled frosting is always a winner!

Blocked and split firewood, vacuumed, weeded, dusted, cooked many meals, went to the library and grocery, read books, and just lived. It was a pretty darn good week.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The east end of the house - Stone Patio and Fire Pit

Way back when we excavated to build the house we ended up with lots of rocks. And since we live in the Adirondacks, when I say rocks, I mean ROCKS!

Lots of big rocks
A lot of them were large and quite a few of them were simply huge. One in particular caught my eye and I convinced our excavator I was not insane for wanting him to carefully place it next to the house foundation. 
The future buffet rock
We worked around that sassafrassing rock all during the build.
No food on it yet
But I had a vision. A clear picture of how I wanted the east end of the house to look and function. And that rock was a big part of it. The east end would serve as our outdoor entertaining area. A natural stone patio, a sand pit with fire ring, comfortable chairs, a pizza oven, and by God, a buffet rock. 

Way back in 2015 we actually got a good start on the stone patio. We even ran a water line to the garden under it.

Then I hurt my shoulder and we took a year off for it to fully heal (yes, it took that long). Then we decided other projects and adventures had priority and we put it off for another year. Finally, we got back to it and got it done! Chris deserves all the credit for the rock laying since he forbade me from helping this time (apparently that shoulder injury bothered both of us). 

Connecting the house to the buffet rock
Then buffet rock to sand pit
The rocks he brought in to create the sand pit were huge. Some are tall enough to serve as seats, others create a smooth transition from the patio.
Sand pit ring taking shape
 The sand pit is about 20 feet in diameter and took close to 7 tons of sand to fill.
Huge sand pit - tractor (and shovel) for scale
You come off the porch onto the stone patio that reaches back 40 feet to the rear of the house. Then it's 18 feet to the sand pit. We seriously depleted the defensive perimeter to lay this thing!
We'll plant grass outside the stones
I dug up some ground cover growing elsewhere on the property and started seeding it between the stones. I have no idea what this stuff is, but it's already starting to spread.
Eventually it'll be an ocean of green with islands of stone
Once we had the sand pit done we needed to create the fire ring. I found the center, did a bit of digging, some stone laying of my own, and then got the ring in place.
Digging the fire hole

Laying the air intake pipe
Stones around to help with erosion
Stones protecting the air intake pipe 
The view from the porch
I put a few chairs around the fire pit, got a good fire going, and enjoyed the evening. It's all coming along quite nicely.
Ahhh...


SaveSave

Monday, July 3, 2017

Kitchen drawers and pulls

Once the weather got nice it was time to put poly on the cherry drawers Chris had built so far. 

Poly station set up in the car port
A whole lot of drawers
The drawers in the stack by the stove also needed poly and also needed some help on the drawer pulls. My plan to use Loc-Tite to hold the antique spoons to the mounting bolts worked great all winter. Then summer hit and I don't know if it was the humidity or what, but the glue started to fail and the pulls fell off. Not all of them, but quite a few. So I needed to come up with a different mounting mechanism. I decided to try a two-part epoxy called JB-Weld. I also figured some extra attachment would be a good idea so I grabbed some jewelry copper wire and some embroidery floss and got creative. 
Copper wire, beads, embroidery floss
The wire (or floss) wraps around the spoon and then attaches (or ties) to the mounting bolt. So not only is the spoon glued on, it's got some extra support from the wire.
I like the contrast between the silver and copper
I think the floss looks surprisingly good and mixes up the textures a bit.


The drawers on the North wall are getting the same type of treatment. Note that the cherry here hasn't been exposed to light as long so it looks a lighter color than the drawers above. It'll all mellow out to approximately the same tone as time passes.


Getting more creative as I do more of them

A far shot for perspective
This stack is actually five drawers in total (one is out of the frame). I'll center long ice tea spoons on each drawer here rather than using two pulls on each one. There are two more stacks on this wall and one will be forks, the other knives. So I'll have full place settings on the North wall. Very fun.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Compost bins

One nice thing about having chickens? The ability to create compost. I've been cleaning out the coop into a fenced pen (you can just see it to the right in the picture below). The area was full to the top of the fence and has composted down into something that's ready to be put in the garden. I realized that I needed another pile so I could easily keep ready compost from in-process compost and decided to put together a few compost bins. Easiest way to do that is with pallets so that's what we did.

Banging in supports
The double bin went together quickly with a few screws and rebar posts. Newly soiled bedding will go in the left bin and I'll move it to the right bin as it ages and gets ready to be used.

The bins are very close to the coop to make it easy to use as I clean and they're also very close to the garden to make it easy to use the compost when it's ready. These bins are kept out of the general chicken area as it's not a good idea to let your chickens work their own feces.

Looks a bit blasted, doesn't it?
So that the chickens could get in on the compost action in a safer manner, I added another single bin to the chicken pasture. This one gets only kitchen and yard waste; they can work the grass clipping and veggie leavings to their hearts' content.
Inside the pasture which also looks blasted
I built these in the early spring so the ground looks horribly brown and dead. Fortunately these areas are now bright green with grass, rye cover crop, and all kinds of weeds and things that chickens like to eat. The whole pasture thing has worked great - the chickens get to semi-free range and I haven't yet had any issues with the fox getting in there. I'm down to two chickens due to his predation but since we've adjusted our grazing behavior we haven't lost any more. 

We have plans to build a junk wood fence around this area so that's more secure, but so far the welded-wire fencing is working well enough.