Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

Thanks for following us throughout the years and offering us support, encouragement and inspiration just when we most need it. Sending much gratefulness across the miles to each and every one of you!

Love your bloggers,

Jennifer & Steve

Friday, December 18, 2015

Wow, Birds in the Yard!

This is our front yard (viewed from inside our living room) that we've converted overtime from lawn to native plants and shrubs.

While sitting by the fire this morning, preparing for the day with some coffee I looked out the window and abandoned my breakfast just to watch.

There were birds EVERYWHERE...feeding on the tree stump and in the sumac, scratching in the leaf litter, pecking on the plant stalks and seed heads. Magic!

Well, it felt like magic to me, but really it makes sense...we created habitat and planted food sources, but still - magic! What a simple action that made such a huge difference. I really am in awe.

Here's the morning list I noted in about five minutes, in our tiny front yard, right next to the road:

Red-bellied Woodpeckers
Downy Woodpeckers
Dark-eyed Juncos
Northern Cardinals
Blue Jays
Tree Sparrows
Fox Sparrow!
Song Sparrow
House Sparrows
Tufted Titmice
Carolina Chickadees
White-breasted Nuthatches

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Planting in December

The weather is unseasonably warm here (think 50s and soon 60s!) so we continue to plant seeds in flats to overwinter outdoors and let Mother Nature stratify by freezing and thawing. We have oodles of seeds in the refrigerator to get to so we just plant steadily on. 

We are working on a new growing medium for us that doesn't use peat (we really, really love and value wetlands and don't want to contribute to their destruction), is sourced locally and sustainably and is quick draining. We both are pretty unimpressed with peat, vermiculite and perlite and even coir for now so after talking to some other growers we are testing a bark mulch/compost mix.

This potting medium's large particle size helps it drain fast, which we found many plants greatly benefit from when put in containers.

One of the things I love about my new job is that I can haul everything I need outdoors and sit in the sun, on the ground and plant seeds.

I love getting my hands dirty, feeling the sunshine on my face and the cool Earth under my legs, listening to birds sing around me and finding moments where my mind is no where else other than on the simple act of the task at hand. For a brain as busy as mine, those moments are precious and few and I find all of them outside...always.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Scoring Some Lumber and Storage Solutions

Written by Steve:

Jennifer regularly gleans the auction advertisements for raw materials for creativity and, recently, helped me score a whole bunch of wood (and more) for about $130.00. This old barn slate, alone, generally goes for 8 bucks each but we got 4 huge stacks for 24 dollars.

Then, there's the four USA-made (also known as "antiques") power tools...

but the main score was two loads of hardwood (oak, walnut, etc.) lumber.

As with any "procurement" the excitement becomes a bit of a panic regarding storage (I have a very small one-car garage woodshop). After quite a bit of head-scratching and a bunch of research on additional types of storage (also known as spend-more-money) we decided to make space in our small barn to keep all of this wood organized and dry.

The first question one must ask regarding lumber storage is "horizontal vs. vertical"? Most people go horizontal as it's believed that vertical (standing boards on end) can result in warping. As usual, we decided to go against conventional wisdom because of the way our space is configured and also because I wanted my boards to be more easily accessible (you also always need the board on the bottom of the stack if you go horizontal).

So here's what I did: Using some steel conduit I had lying around I made 12-14 inch long dividers. I hammered one end of each divider flat and drilled a hole in it and then screwed these along the horizontal 2x4s seen in the picture below. I then stacked boards vertically, between the dividers.

Here is a view looking down on the conduit sections that allow me to stack boards in a couple of ways. To keep the boards from falling out away from the wall I used pine 1x2 scraps and drilled holes to fit the conduit.

Here you can see that the conduit dividers angle upwards a bit - that, plus the friction between the dividers and the retainers, keeps the boards snug against the wall.

Thanks to Jennifer, now I've got a huge stock of hardwood lumber nicely organized in a dry barn. Next: CREATIONS!