Starcraft 11 ‘ 6″ Boat Refurbishment – Part I, Seats
|After turning it right-side up, just before towing it|
|After turning it right-side up, just before towing it|
This post is along the same lines as my first, from back in February of 2014, titled “Spring 2013: In the Beginning…” Focused on introspection, what’s going on inside, as opposed to the “how” of this or that. Like all of us, consciously or not, I have been on something of a personal development journey, and the past 6 years or so, with Geri’s huge impact on my life, the speed of development has increased dramatically, and we have been on the journey together. <Now some might say, “what personal development?” Ha! Well, if that is you, I will just remind you that there is this blind spot we all have, called “what I don’t know that I don’t know.” And in this case you should thank God for that!> As we have eliminated a lot of the noise from our lives, attracted the positive and eliminated the negative, systematically, and with intention, we have been able to feel and hear ourselves with increased sensitivity, it seems to me. The most recent example of this for me, was Facebook. It just had to stop, so for those of you wondering about my silence, there you have it. The homestead Facebook page is still being maintained, but I have not been on my personal page in several weeks. It has made a huge difference; I have a lot more stillness in my life. That is not saying anything bad about Facebook, and there are certainly great aspects of the experience, which I miss, but for me it became just another addiction, and I invested more time and energy in it than I should have. The point is, after eliminating a lot of modern day distractions, TV being the first several years ago, the resulting quiet is gorgeous. In the space left behind is the work, and a state of more heightened awareness of ourselves is a key benefit of “doing the work,” as Geri likes to say, on ourselves and our relationships. Read more
It has been an active spring season on the homestead, and this post is the resulting “grab bag” of topics. Last year I had made a commitment to myself to put up a couple of nest boxes, in hopes of convincing a pair of tree nesting ducks to stay, as opposed to passing through on migration as they did last year. Perhaps it was a bit too late, but I did in fact build and install two nest boxes.
|Everything I purchased for the project is pictured (L); 12 feet of 1 in. x 10 in. cedar board, cut in half at the lumber yard, a roll 25 foot roll of 2 foot wide aluminum flashing, and a box of 50 stainless steel deck screws; the instructions are from Ducks Unlimited. In the second picture (R) the boards have been cut to length using the Skillsaw. Not pictured are a few roofing nails for attaching the flashing to the tree, two big nails for mounting the box, and some 1/2 in. hardware cloth, all of which I had on hand.|
Here we go, in southwest Michigan! The 10-day forecast includes what appears to be an almost picture perfect start to the maple sugaring season.
|10-day weather forecast for Kalamazoo, Michigan|
Starting on Saturday, 7 March, you can see that the daily high and low temperatures will bracket the freezing point for six days in a row; that dynamic is what causes maple trees to develop a positive pressure when the temperature rises above freezing, pushing sap out of the tree. I will plan to tap at least some of our trees on the morning of Saturday 7 March, and I would bet that they will start flowing that afternoon. Read more
Perhaps as I did, you might ask, “what is a MOOC?” According to Oxford Dictionaries :
|My homepage in the Coursera iPad app|
I believe I owe a debt of gratitude to Mary C., and the Van-Kal Permaculture Facebook page, for the lead to this treasure trove. I am sure there are other sources, but this particular course was offered through Coursera, so I signed up on-line and also downloaded the app for my iPad. There are many course offerings from a large number of prestigious institutions, accessible by browsing or searching the course catalog. Read more
In my post of 4 February 2015, I discussed “energy leaks,” and specifically leaks that I thought were due to air flow through “can light” fixtures that penetrated the ceiling of the kitchen and floor of the attic. I noted at the time, “The only break in the insulation envelope, is a pair of can lights above the kitchen counter, their location corresponding to the left (west) edge of the heat shadow on the roof.” A “small and slow improvement” was made, which was basically to add more fiberglass batt insulation on top of the can lights. The folly of this effort was soon in evidence, as after a more recent snowfall I could again see a “heat shadow” forming on the roof in the same location. Fortunately, my friend Sam saw the post, and gave me some good advice: “As for your fiberglass experiment over the recessed lighting. In my experience the air flow through fiberglass batts make excellent air filters and not much else. Recessed lighting is notorious for being leaky devices that as you rightly state let the warm conditioned air of your living space into the unconditioned space of your attic. Fiberglass loses its insulative capacity and is short circuited by air flow, so if it is not installed in a situation where there are an air barriers the R-value is decreased. You might want to try recessed lighting insulation covers (yes, they are a thing) and then place the insulation over the top of those. The covers allow you to seal around the light and reduce the air exchange going on with the hole in your ceiling.” Indeed! And thank you Sam! Read more
|The forest in snow|
Winter is hard, though perhaps not always in the sense you would at first imagine. In one sense, there is of course the weather, but I rather enjoy winter, absent the freezing pipes of winter 2013/2014, and the aftermath. I spent all too many hours under the house replacing the plumbing. In terms of the variety of the work there is to do, there is less in winter it seems; there is no gardening going on, the bees do not require any management, no maintenance of other plantings, and so on.
Temperatures have been relatively mild compared to last year, so there has been no ice fishing, yet. There have really only been three activities calling for my time and energy; hunting, wood harvesting, and 2015 planning. Read more
|American hophornbeam for fencing|
I have posted on more than one occasion, regarding the felling of trees, bucking and splitting to produce wood fuel, and chipping to produce mulch. There is also American hophornbeam (aka ironwood, see under “Trees” on the Plants & Animals page) growing on the homestead, which makes great fence posts; I have perhaps 15 to 20 such posts air drying now. Hophornbeam can also be used to make long bows and re-curve bows, which I intend to attempt in the future. Of course maple syrup is another forest product, and one we intend to expand our production of in the spring of 2015. And the list goes on.
Earlier this year, I had decided to give my wife for her birthday, the gift of attending a Jackie Clay-Atkinson seminar. For those of you who might not know of Jackie, I submit the following from the Backwoods Home Magazine entry on Wikipedia, “Jackie Clay-Atkinson, an independent off-grid homesteader in northern Minnesota, writes articles on all aspects of self-sufficient living, from growing herbs to butchering elk. In addition, her “Ask Jackie” column answers questions from readers on many topics, with emphasis on home skills like safely preserving foods. She brings similar topics to her Backwoods Home blog.” To find a list of Jackie’s articles at Backwoods Home Magazine, click on this link. At first I had not planned to attend the 3-day seminar, but as time passed, and the date approached, I finally decided to see if there was room left in the seminar for me. Fortunately there was, and in a effort to make it more than a purely educational endeavor, I decided to rent an RV and make a vacation of it. Geri loved the idea of the RV, and on Thursday the 5th of June we headed for the far north of Minnesota, and the homestead of Jackie and her husband Will, just 90 miles from the Canadian border.
The trip was 12 hours more or less, with occasional stops for rest and to refuel. On the drive, we listened to the audio-book Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education, by Michael Pollan. Audio-books, and podcasts, are both good ways of putting your daily commute, or a long drive, to productive or entertaining use; this book by Pollan was both entertaining and educational. Pollan has written several other books, the most well know of which might be, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals; you can check out Michael’s author’s page on Amazon at this link. If you are in need of a laugh, listen to A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail, by Bill Bryson, though you will be laughing so hard you may not want to be operating heavy equipment at the time!
In recent weeks I have thought of the need to add a 5th box to the bee hive; I have been seeing many bees congregating at the hive entrance, and was worrying that they might have expanded to fill the available volume, and bee looking to swarm. Since Nathan was around as an able assistant, having helped me to add the 3rd and 4th boxes back in June, the time to add the 5th box had come. After adding the 3rd and 4th boxes, I summarized the event in a blog post by stating, “The process of adding the boxes went more smoothly than I probably had any right to expect; it was executed without incident.” As it turns out, I indeed did not have any right to expect that it would go so smoothly.