Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Our New Arrivals!

Well… I was able to finish the shed just in time for our trip down to Camden on Saturday to pick up our baby goats. It was a pretty momentous trip for us. It has been seven years that we have been looking forward to taking on goats and we are finally there. Lots of new beginnings for us this year.

The girls did great on the ride back from Camden. Hephzibah (“Effie”) sat on Julia’s lap and Beulah (“B”) rode in a peach crate at her feet. Since they’ve been handled so much by children they really are attached to humans.

The shed is complete except the cedar shingle roofing. I will be plugging away at that a little bit each night over the next few weeks. The nails are already staining a bit onto the boards thanks to some recent rain. I must admit, I really do love this look.

The hinges were made by blacksmith Joe Meltreder down the road from us. Joe is the blacksmith that does demonstrations at the Wilson Museum in Castine. His work is beautiful. These wonderful strap hinges on traditional pintels along with the door pull cost us $80. This is an incredible deal. If you’ve ever done blacksmithing or have commissioned a blacksmith, you know how much work and skill it takes to create something as elegant as these. I think we have at least ten blacksmiths within twenty miles of our house. (In fact, I’ve heard even the legendary Peter Ross started out in my neck of the woods.)This peninsula is rich with traditional skills.

The inside of this 6’ x 6’ shed is pretty simple. Hay manger, water bucket, grain feeder, and goat door. I think I may soon be adding a shelf for them to climb on/sleep on because they seem to have taken to sleeping in the manger’s tray. (Not ideal!) This will be their housing until next spring when I build them a larger more permanent barn. At that point I will be converting this into our garden shed by installing a floor, wall boards, shelves, and a few antique windows. It will be nice to have next year. The fencing around their yard is electrified poly netting. Now that I have a sufficient fence charger, these girls respect the boundary. Effie seems to learn a little slower than B but they seem to get the picture.

Here is a video tour of our goat setup:

This summer has been blowing right by. We’ve had a very busy schedule this year. It seems sometimes that nothing gets totally completed when you are trying to do so many things at once. I have a feeling one day we will all of the sudden realize it is all completed at the same time. (At least that’s what I am choosing to believe.)

The studio building has been delayed due to many factors but not insignificantly my hernia/ whatever they finally decide it actually is. It first acted up about a month and a half ago and has been causing problems ever since. Needless to say this is making the logistics of getting this thing completed a little fuzzy. I’m quite sure it is going to take longer than expected. But that’s okay. This is the way life rolls. I frequently remind myself of some sagacious advice a friend shared with me a few years ago: Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be easily broken. Amen and amen.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Much Needed Deluge

Getting some more studio time this weekend... I assembled a reproduction Queen Anne stool for a client.

This other project I have is to extend the legs on a couple upholstered chairs. The legs needed to be refinished at the same time so I scarfed extensions on, planed and sanded them flush, and began finishing them.

On the homefront…

I’ve been all alone this weekend. Julia and Eden are away camping but I decided to stay back. I didn’t want to be in a tent in a rainstorm in case this hernia decided to act up again. Instead, I stayed back and (carefully) worked on the shed. No heavy lifting. Just nail banging.

The clinched Z cleat door is coming along but I do need to find a pair of nice antique strap hinges to hang it. Not sure where to find them locally (ie. quickly). Any ideas?

I got all the siding on which was reverse board and batten style. The nails are all 3” Tremont rosehead standards. They do not have any finish on them so not long from now they will develop that wonderful weathered black staining.

The door trim is on.

I have a few bundles of cedar shingles waiting for some action.

After a bright and sunny day, out of nowhere this massive downpour burst out of the sky accompanied by a tempest of wind. Everything was flailing around pretty good. My grilling was hampered, the mud oven was getting sprayed sideways, and my van windows were wide open. Fortunately I had just finished putting all my tools away before it came. I dashed out the door to get things closed and covered from the storm.

And then it was over about three minutes later. The rain ceased and the sun came out again. Wow. Didn’t see that one coming. I think I got more wet in those three minutes than I have in a while. It was a lot of fun. I need that kind of thing once in a while: a nice downpour to end a hot work day. I feel pretty good now.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Guts are Falling Out

We spent this past weekend at Leonard’s Mills for the Living History Days. Reenacting the 1790’s on the eastern frontier has always been one of the highlights of our year. We get to make delicious food over the fire, practice historic crafts, and fellowship with friends and family all the while educating/entertaining the community.

Julia and Eden both had a great time this year again. For me, it was somewhat of a different story: I spent most of the weekend as an invalid in bed. And the real bummer was that this was no charade. I was really not feeling well. The immense at times abdominal pain was unbearable every time I stepped up to my workbench for demonstrations. So I sipped water in the 90 degree humid heat while trying not to move too much.

All my unused and lonely tools

To make a long story short I have a hernia. This means my guts are falling out. Literally.

If you have not had a hernia, let me just tell you that it is painful. And it makes getting projects done very challenging. At the studio I have two chairs I am trying to finish up for a dear client and at home I am trying to finish up the goat shed for their arrival next week. (The frame is complete and the roof boards are on so far.) Lord knows how all this will shake out. Doctor’s orders are no heavy lifting. What in the world do I do that doesn’t involve heavy lifting? Dear me.

The goat shed progress

All I was able to accomplish over the weekend was to make a sheath for a knife I recently made. It’s based on some 18th century examples I saw and I assumed I’d only use it for reenacting but I like it so much I’ve been wearing every day since. The blade is ground from an old file and the handle is cherry with a linseed oil/oil stain/shellac/pigment/wax finish to add some ‘age’. The sheath is a piece of scrap leather I hand stitched with a waxed thread. I am pleased with the outcome.

As I am writing this post, I am resting on my bed at home. It’s dark outside and I feel a beautiful cool breeze blow through my house. I hear the low rumbling of thunder in the distance. Everything is still and quiet. This moment is incredibly calming and healing. It’s as if in the stillness there is a small voice reminding me that Someone is still watching over.

O Lord, blessed are those whose strength is in you.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The July Bustle

This has been an excellent July so far. Right before the Independence Day festivities I was able to squeak out some upholstery and structural repairs. I thought this fabric was very appropriate as I completed it the day before the parade.

On the 3rd, Julia performed with the Bagaduce Pops Singers at the 2013 Bagaduce Music Lending Library POPS Concert. They did a wonderful medley from the Lion King Broadway show. That performance is in the two videos below. (Julia is the beautiful redhead in the center front.)

Also, one of our favorite musicians, Gordon Bok performed a small set. Time magazine has aptly called him the “poet laureate of those who go down to the sea in ships”. As a folklorist, Gordon sing songs of the sea, sailing, and fishing in the good old Maine and New Brunswick heritage. Gordon has given me kind permission to record and share one of his songs from the evening’s set. Here it is:

On the fourth, we attended the Brooklin parade again this year. Being at these events reminds us how wonderful it is to live in a small community. Left and right we were greeting family, friends, and neighbors.

The parade was in true Maine humor... We had some creative floats this year: First was the “Brooklin Picnic Blackfly Attack”...

...followed by the “Lobsters Have Their Day” float complete with the shouting caged tourists while one poor soul was already in the pot cooking.

Eden got his fill of candy. I’d say he made out pretty good but next year I think we are going to make sure he wears shorts without pockets.

Finally, with the help of our dear friend Jessica (visiting from Alaska), we got the earthen oven complete. I made a 2x pine door which we laid the mud up to so that we will have a tight seal. The doorway we framed with cardboard and built the cob on top of that. Now we will let it dry a couple of weeks and try again with the firing. (Our first attempt at baking was a perfect storm of a failure.)

This weekend we're off to Leonard's Mills for the summer Living History Days. If you're in the area, come visit us on Saturday or Sunday. We'll be reenacting in the cabin again.