Growing Challenges

This year has been full of growing challenges, from starting most of our own seeds indoors in late winter, to learning a new technique for starting seeds called soil blocking (I’ll get into this in another post). There has been a growing challenge of another kind too in that I’m going to graduate school!

I’ll be starting in a week from today and I’m really excited to finally be starting this goal I knew I’d always go for. I’m nervous and excited and scared and excited. I know I’m not the best at handling stress but just reminding myself how blessed I am to even have the opportunity to get this degree keeps me humbled and driven. I’m going to be kept pretty busy between this class which is an eight-week intensive course, being in the peak of needing to get the garden going/weeding, etc., starting up summertime house renovations again, and planning my cousins baby shower. With all of that said, I’m still hoping to post here once a week. I’m going to stick to the Tuesday/Thursday schedule and hoping for 10am. Though lets face it, I’ve already blown that with this post. So let’s just say “Tuesday or Thursday, with a hope for Tuesdays.”

The other big thing is that Green Barn Soaps is going on hiatus for the next eight weeks. I will be open again after this class ends in July. I’m not sure I’ll be doing this with each class, but during this next eight week period I really need to take something off my plate and GBS seems like a good fit as it’s slow this time of year.

Finally, if I won’t be able to get a post up or if this schedule needs to change because of other challenges, I will be updating over on my Facebook page which you can get to by clicking here and will likely send out a tweet as well as mention it on an Instagram post (@likeacupoftea). As always I post on Instagram pretty regularly even when my posts here aren’t. Gardening and dog photos are pretty regular. Let’s be honest with each other though. I know you all come for the dogs and I’m guessing that’s why you follow me on Instagram too. I know you guys are suckers for the two yellow dogs. I am too, I can’t blame you.

Cheers to the next eight crazy weeks of my life! Notes of encouragement on here and Instagram will be so incredibly appreciated.

DSC_9738-01

xo,

Heather

My First Time

We all remember our first time. You’re excited but nervous. You have an idea of what to expect from what you’ve been told, but you don’t really know what you’re in for. You’ve heard it can last a while, and you’ve heard it can be quick. So, you excitedly take a deep breath, and let it out. This is happening.

Then, you load the dogs into your hatchback Saab, make sure you have your sales slip, and head up the highway to the glory land. The Fedco tree sale awaits you.

The huge two weekend event every year draws a very large crowd, with the first weekend reserved for those who pre-order trees. I had ordered two peach trees for our mini-orchard all the way back in December. This was the year I was going to go up there. This was the year I was going to see what everyone had been talking about years before me. Was it really as great as they said? It must be. My hopes were high. Since I had ordered trees early, I also got first chance at the cream of crop trees, bushes, and other goods before it was opened to the general public.

IMG_9378That friday morning just a few weeks ago I piled myself and two dogs into my hatchback, with no idea what was coming my way. I had a general idea everything would fit. It took a bit of finagling though when I not only picked up the two peach trees, but opted to buy 25 asparagus crowns, a  Honey Crisp apple tree, and a McIntosh apple tree. Will power got the best of me that day, thankfully. Common sense was not lost as I left beautiful cherry trees, blueberries, pear trees, and a huge variety of a hundred other glorious items where they lay. Thankfully so too, because Primrose wasn’t too happy with me as is.

IMG_9379As it were, Winnie was in the front seat, and Rosie laid right behind the passenger side on my comfy coat but most assuredly giving me the side-eye the entire time. I laughed when I ended up accidentally snagging this photo of Winnie while trying to get a photo of the cramped quarters. It looks like she’s yelling at me for the space issues. While it doesn’t look cramped in the photo I can guarantee you that there were four trees, particularly the apple trees, touching from the back of the trunk all the way past the rear view mirror with an inch to spare.

IMG_9380After leaving the tree sale I decided I wanted to grab some copper fungicide at their other warehouse and ended up stumbling into my version of heaven. I found where they keep all the potato stock. To be truthful I just wanted to eat them since I’m a carb loving broad. No one told me there would be potatoes my first time. No one told me there would be potatoes.

IMG_9382I also ended up meandering over to the seed warehouse where I bought some things in a haze. I remember buying peas, but I couldn’t tell you everything else I bought off the top of my head. I know I managed to get out with only about four packs of seeds though after thoroughly reminding myself about all the Johnny Select Seeds I had previously ordered that were waiting for me at home.

IMG_9383A few weeks after digesting everything, let me tell you the truth from the other side.

The Fedco tree sale is everything I had ever been told, and more. Aside from everything I’ve mentioned already, the people were just so incredibly nice. As far as patrons, every type of person was there. There were small gardeners, to people who just wanted a nice tree for their yard, to small homesteaders like myself, to legit farmers who I have an intense respect for. Their wealth of knowledge is staggering.

If you have never been to the Fedco tree sale, go. Order a tree so you can get in that first weekend, and just go. Get there early in the morning on the opening Friday and you’ll have plenty of time and space to take it all in.

Go slow. Enjoy it. Don’t rush. It will be worth the wait.

xo,
Heather

Welcome to Sawmill Nation

Andy and I have been wanting a sawmill for a number of years now. We had no way of justifying an expensive production model with hydraulics, so instead we focused on smaller home models. We looked at just about every brand, and eventually settled on a Woodland Mills. Rather, I had settled on a Woodland Mills. That was until recently, when a deal came up that was too good to pass.

DSC_9642A few years back Andy and I went to his friends place to help him and his Dad saw some lumber. Our friends father had purchased a Hud-Son Oscar 121, which had been purchased used from another guy who bought it and decided it was too much work. Andy jokingly said, “When he’s ready to sell it, have him give me a call.” We moved on, and continued to look around casually while renovating the house. We knew we were going to buy a sawmill this year, but we figured it would be this fall. That is, until we got a call recently saying our friends Dad was selling his mill – a mill that had been barely used.

With our anniversary just about a month away we pretty much looked at each other and knew we had to jump on it. My heart was still with the Woodland Mills, but I came around pretty quickly. We ended up getting the mill, extra track, and a box of new blades for about 1/2 of what everything would cost new. We wished each other a happy early anniversary, jumped in the truck with the dogs and picked it up.

It was just in time too, since our neighbor had a pile of logs out back him and Andy had cut and hauled out this winter.

DSC_9621It’s been fun getting the mill setup, and getting the feel for it. Andy and our neighbor have mostly been the ones using it, but I’ve been learning the ropes too.

DSC_9627We’ve been cutting a lot of 2×6, with some timbers and other various dimensional lumber mostly hackmatack, poplar and a scatter of pine and maple. I’d say overall we’re happy with the setup. The logs are cut nice and maintenance seems to be straightforward. We had an issue with a wave in one of the boards from the blade jumping but that had more to do with the figure of the grain and some pitch build up most likely. Like I said, this is a learning curve for everyone involved (me the most).

DSC_9635The log pile is almost decimated at this point, which means we’re looking forward to cutting the cedar Andy felled at his mom’s place a few weeks back. For now we’ll keep cutting up our neighbors lumber with him, and then at some point we’ll do some hackmatack up at the farm too for a lean-to off the barn. One of the reasons I love Maine, and particularly where I live, is that there is a strong sense of community and neighbors helping neighbors.  A lot more gets done, and faster, when we’re all willing to step in with our resources to get it done.

DSC_9641I know this sounds a bit odd, but the truth is that our little homestead feels a bit more complete with Oscar here. We’ve been wanting a mill for so damn long that it feels like an accomplishment. We aren’t big spenders, we understand the worth of a dollar, and we have made sacrifices specifically so when something like this comes along  we’re able to buy it. That might seem rare in the age of keeping up with the Jones’s and instant gratification, but it’s a deeper feeling like no other to see a long term, hard worked for, item come true.

DSC_9662To both Andy and me it’s important to provide for ourselves. We live in a vastly interconnected world but we also think it’s important to be able to provide for ourselves in some ways. I’m not even close to totally self-reliant and I’m okay with that. We are in no way hardcore homesteaders, and don’t intend to be. In the case of the apocalypse, I am – in the famous words of Dido – going down with this ship. My self-sustaining goal is less dooms day zombie survival and more to have food in a snow storm, to decrease my grocery bill significantly in the summer, to enjoy the taste of summer in the winter with a can of homemade salsa, and to have lumber on hand (or the ability to cut it before we need it) for projects. It’s important for me to just do my part.

Overall, we’re happy. We know it’s not for everyone. I know I’m a bit of an odd duck in the world of marketing to women in that I don’t want diamonds for my anniversary. Last year we stumbled upon our long sought after Suburban a month before our anniversary. This year, it’s a sawmill. Next year? Who knows, but I bet it won’t be jewelry.

858680_10101646540750989_1955072273187390111_oxo,

Heather

From Forest to Floor

I’ve mentioned before that in the past we’ve  sawed our own lumber, but I’ve never really walked through an entire project soup to nuts…er, cedar to lumber. Since we’re planning on building out our porch this summer I thought this was a great opportunity to show the entire process. This is a short post, but it’s the first of many about the porch (though proceeding posts about it may not be until later this summer).

DSC_9551Sustainable forestry is very important to us. Cutting just to cut is not something we do. It’s a very purposeful process, in both for the wood we need and being conscious of all the surrounding trees. Andy’s mom happened to have a thick cedar stand on her property which worked to our advantage. Not only do we need cedar for our decking, but it was also beneficial to free up some of the trees for the overall benefit of the cedar stand. While Andy chose the best trees, his mom tallied up the board feet.

DSC_9475DSC_9489Andy cut the logs into 8, 10, & 12 feet which we’ll be able to haul home on our trailer later this summer. The easiest way to measure everything out was simply to use his tape which is attached to his wedge pouch. Note: I am positive the technical term is not “wedge pouch” but it was better than calling it a “reverse wedge fanny pack” which sounds like “reverse wedgie” which while I have no idea what that would be but it sounds ultimately horrible.

DSC_9546Overall it was a very successful day, and we not only freed up some smaller trees but now also have enough board feet for our porch. Later this summer we’ll be winching it out of the woods, loading it on a trailer and bringing it home to saw on a sawmill.

DSC_9518As always the dogs were with us (and under my eagle eye watch). We can always count on them for cleanup with a smile.

DSC_9479 DSC_9482

So while we wait for the logs to dry I wanted to share some other news in equipment acquisition land—we 99% likely getting a sawmill very soon!

While it might not be entirely relatable, I have wanted a sawmill for a number of years now and the idea of finally getting one is absolutely thrilling to me. We have a lead on a great deal. While it’s not the original sawmill I wanted, I couldn’t be happier that we’ll finally have one and at an awesome price. I’m keeping my hopes in check, but crossing my fingers! I will be SURE to update when/if this happens!

xo,

Heather

Mountain Meditation

Happy Earth Day! In the spirit of focusing on our environment and all it provides, I thought I would share our weekend away into the natural beauty of Maine.

There are times when I just need to be in the mountains. Being in the mountains and having some alone time with my camera is even better. This past weekend, after a huge event at work, I encouraged Andy to take Friday off with me so we could go to his Mom’s place in western Maine. This is the view from one part of her yard (albeit zoomed in). Not too shabby. While we celebrated the weekend with family, I decided to steal away some alone time with my camera and the stream that runs through my mother in laws property.

DSC_9194Even the dogs, who are normally glued to my side, were busy romping in the woods to their hearts content.

DSC_9312For a solid 30 minutes it was just me, my camera and a mountain stream.

DSC_9267I had been wanting to try some slower shutter speed shots of the water for some time. I used my 55-200mm lens which I love, but can admittedly be a bit tough because it doesn’t have vibration reduction. Overall though it was a fun learning experiment with both the manual use of my camera, testing my steadiness and using rocks as stabilizers, and also a good test on how close I can put my camera to the water without actually ruining it.

DSC_9210While I decided to only save a couple of the photos, I thought I’d share them with you guys.

DSC_9206DSC_9214DSC_9254These next two are my favorite. When I was editing I laughed because the first photo below looks like a large waterfall with a felled tree above it. It’s the scale of the forest behind that makes you realize it’s actually quite small. Perspective is everything.

DSC_9229 DSC_9234After I decided to head back up the hill, my sister in law and her husband were just heading up the mountain themselves to go skiing. I figured I’d hunker down and take some shots of them. Rosie decided to hang out with me. By “decided to hang out with me” I mean “made her sit with me instead of chasing Jessie and Gabe down the mountain.”

DSC_9378DSC_9401While all of this was going on, Andy, his mom and his brother were cutting cedar for our porch…but that’s for Thursdays post.

DSC_9499It was a nice weekend, and it was fun to be back in the snow for a few days since we have none left at our house. Champ, the girls doggie cousin, summed it up pretty nicely: sometimes you just need a weekend away to play, relax and to lay down while you eat snow.

DSC_9437xo,

Heather