Sunday, September 15, 2013

Name that Rooster, and Start Breathing Again!

If you add up our meat birds, our old layers, and the new generation of layers we have 119 chickens at our house. We needed another chicken like I needed another hernia.

On our property, the clucking of the hens harmonizes with the bleating of the goats beautifully but we felt it needed one little touch to complete the aural composition. And besides, what’s a flock without a rooster?

Saturday morning we called our friends over at Quill’s End Farm and inquired about extra roosters “in stock”. They told us they had more than enough roosters and offered one to us. When we stopped over there Alexander skillfully wrestled an elegant Silver Laced Wyandotte and placed it in our travel crate. (If you are not sure why I said “skillfully” then you’ve never tried to catch a chicken before. Try it and you’ll understand.)

I am not sure that we are totally settled on his name yet. Eden wants “Garlic” and Julia and I vote “Tertullian”. We are not ones for naming all our chickens but there is something so distinctively personal about a rooster that they seem to need some sort of dignified designation. In past years we’ve went with names of preachers (eg. “Spurgeon”, “Sproul”) or of early/biblical church fathers (“Polycarp”, “Barnabas”, “Timothy”). What do you think this dapper fella should be called? Any ideas?

We’ve got 2.5 – 3 cords stacked finally. This is very close to what we need to heat our little house through the Maine winter. I bought 6 cords of log length this year so that we’d have enough for campfires, the earth oven, and maple syrup tapping in spring. Since open sunny/windy space is kind of a premium on this side of the house, we decided to try a Holz Hausen. This is apparently a German design for a wood pile. It is built round with the walls always tilted down into the center. Then the middle is filled with verticals leaning slightly out to counteract the pressure of the walls. When these principals are paid attention to, the structure is very stable. The theory goes that the verticals create a chimney effect, drawing air in, thereby increasing the speed of drying. The truth of this claim is dubious but it sure is nice to look at. (Not to mention saving us space!)

I just completed this fall front desk in the studio. Lid was cracked into pieces, drawers busted and warped, finish water damaged, feet broken, mold growth on secondary wood, screws stripped, lopers stuck, etc. This was a pretty comprehensive job. I wish I didn’t have it so long in my studio but I have to admit I was a little intimidated by it before starting. These kind of projects are always one step at a time. Needless to say I am pretty happy with the way it came out.

Speaking of intimidating projects, I’ve just begun this 19th century sea captain’s lap desk. Disaster of disasters. The roll top canvas is shot and things are warped. The whole mechanism is jammed and stuck. This is sort of a puzzle to figure out the most intelligent and sound repairs.

Eden’s been working on his letters. The long one that looks like a caterpillar is an extended/expanded ‘E’.

We feel the brisk fall air coming upon us quickly. Nights are chilly now. Sweater weather for sure. This time of the year is always so bittersweet for us: The seasonals and tourists with their conspicuous presence have all gone home. Gardens are slowing down. Daylight diminishes noticeably everyday. Cleaning out the wood stove, you begin thinking about picking up your poetry again.

It’s funny when you begin to see your breath again. I believe that some years I am convinced I’ve been holding my breath since spring. The whirlwind of spring/ summer is so overwhelming that it’s easy to work, work, work until you crash. Fall is for crashing. Fall is for breathing again. I am always relieved when these fall nights remind me to breathe again.

The heavens are glad.


  1. I vote for Caruso, the name of the rooster in a Swedish childrens book (Findus og Peddersen: The rooster's minute)by the author Sven Nordquist.
    A great book for a bed time story by the way.

    The holz haus is looking really good.
    I was taught to make them in a way so that all the individual pieces slanted outwards, so they would work like shingles and lead the water away from the center, that has worked fine for us.
    Maybe this suggestion is a little too late, but I have found it a very good idea to place a couple of small bags of rat poison during stacking of fire wood. The rats will always find the poison and eat of it, and it is out of reach of dogs and children etc.

    Fall is a spectacular time, firing up the stove again, drinking hot chocolate in the afternoon etc.


  2. Interesting recommendation R Francis. Hopefully this guy won't turn out so devilish. The last rooster we had started jumping at Eden and he was promptly let out into the woods that night never to be seen again. May this rooster be of a gentler sort.

  3. Jonas,

    That's a great idea for a name! Eden loves Festus and Mercury. He reads them often. I'm sure he would be keen on the idea!
    About your holz hausen... do mean all the center pieces are slanted down and out for rain run off? Wouldn't that push the walls outwards too much as things settled? Hmmm...
    Oh yes... hot chocolate. Oh! and cider! Oh! and apple pie! My my. I'd better stop now: I'm drooling.

  4. Hi Joshua.

    The idea (as explained to me) is that the center of the stack should always be a little higher in level than the outside stack, so each piece that is stacked in the outer ring has got some support at the inner end.
    Each piece on the outside stack should be a little further inwards as the piece it is lying on top of(around 1/2"), this goes after maybe the first foot. Once you get nearer to the top, this distance increases to flatten out the top a little.

    The inner core can either be piled without any thoughts to the orientation, or they can be stacked like you do with the outer ring.
    I usually stack them.

    Yet another method for a very large unit is one that I have seen in an old Swedish book about forestry. It suggests that you ram a stake in the middle like you do.
    Then the outer ring is built up to maybe one foot height. the inside is simply filled (no thought to orientation).

    Long branches are placed with the thin end on the outer perimeter, and a side branch or twig should "catch" the stake. These branches help in making the structure secure when additional wood is piled on top of them.
    This is repeated every once in a while during the build.

    But If your method works, I would stick to that one.

    We are going to make cider when I get home. That is one of my favorite activities.