Monday, December 7, 2015

First Pond Ice

It's December 7 and this morning a third of the pond was covered with ice. By noon most had melted. Yesterday we had an otter over two feet long visit us. It stayed only a few hours, scampering around the dock and diving to catch lunch before moving on.
View to the West Showing Ice Cover on Far Side
Pond View to the North, With the West Third Covered With Ice
This autumn has been remarkably mild, with more than 1,000 fresh, unfrozen Granny Smith apples still hanging on trees. We have dehydrated more than 100 pounds and have stored many times that amount in bins. Since we don't need any more apple sauce or dried slices, we'll probably juice them and make hard cider that will last more than a year. That way we can enjoy apples even if next year's crop fails. 
Apples on Trees With Heavy Frosted Grass in Foreground
A remarkable plant started blooming last week: A Winter Rose or Hellebore that is an amazing evergreen perennial with handsome, deep green foliage and pretty flowers that shine through winter and into spring. Our other flowers have frozen and are gone but this one is thriving! We'll have to propagate it and find other colors to help us through cold winters! We'll have to plant them where snow doesn't pile up. This flower will spend most of the winter under the snow that gets piled along the driveway unless we protect it and avoid shoveling on top of it.
Winter Rose
Closeup: Winter Rose

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Milling Logs to Boards: Part 2

It took three tries  but weather finally allowed us to process more logs. The site is very close to the large barn where boards are stored for two or more years to dry. This batch of logs included red oak, mulberry, walnut, cherry and hemlock. Three of the logs were cut into large slabs that were subsequently chainsawed into roughly square pieces that we sealed on both ends to retard drying so the ends dry at the same rate as the rest and don't crack or check.
Roughing Out Wood Bowl Blanks
Bowl Blanks Sealed and Ready for Transport to the Barn for Drying
Since this milling process took place on mowed grass and not in a forest like last time, we spread a very large tarp on the ground under the mill to make it easy to collect and remove sawdust and debris.
Two Red Oak and Three Walnut Logs Lined Up for Milling
The Mill Has Six Jacks for Leveling
Each Jack Incorporates a Row of Holes and a Spring-loaded Pin and Require Only a Single Lever to Adjust All Sequentially
First Log of the Day Being Cleaned of Dirt and Stones to Prevent Damaging the Blade
Delivery of a Very Large Red Oak Log
 The raw lumber is stacked inside a large barn. One inch square "stickers" are placed along the length so that air can circulate through each row to facilitate natural drying. Boards in a row are spaced an inch or two apart so edges dry properly.

Lumber Cut in the Morning, Now Stacked, Will Dry for
Two Years Before Being Auctioned to Support the Club.
View of Some of Last Year's Planks That Will Be Auctioned Next Year
A Tall Stack of Last Years's Boards