Thursday, October 23, 2008

Logging Camp

Tarps over the woodpile work for a little while, but they're not the greatest. This point is driven home when you try to straighten them out after a windy day and one of the lakes that has formed on the top comes rushing down to wet your pants for you. So we've decided to build a wood shed. Our property has plenty of pine trees planted by the previous owners which need to be thinned out, and they'll now make some nice poles for the woodshed. All we'll need to buy is roofing.

We all ventured out to one of our pine stands for an afternoon of playing logger, and had a lot of fun. I felled the first tree with a chainsaw, but after that decided to just use the axe. I like to do things the hard way (note that I'm still quite happy to use the tractor if not the chainsaw), so that it won't be such a shock when the economy collapses and that's the only option available. But that will certainly never happen so long the fiscally conservative republicans remain at the helm of this great country.

After felling, limbing, and bucking up all the logs, we hauled them out of the woods and to the house with the tractor, which works well with a 3-point crane and a chain. Here's a video:

Logging is hard work for people who aren't smart enough to use a chainsaw, so we had to take a break in the afternoon and press some cider. Rachel had previously picked the apples on the trees at her parent's house. It was kind of neat to drink cider from apple trees that she planted when she was about four years old.

We had our first frost on the 19th, and have a had a couple more since then. I remember 80 degrees only a few weeks ago, and this Sunday there's a chance of snow. The weather changes fast here.

I've uploaded a few photos of the fall colors. The sumacs (particularly poison sumac -- my favorite) turned red first, and then the sassafras turned yellow. I've been waiting for all the trees to turn colors all at once, but they aren't cooperating.

The goats needed another worming, so we're without milk again for a few more days while the medication makes it through their system. Hopefully we don't have to keep using the hard stuff like this on a regular basis. The kittens are taking this especially hard. They run outside to lick the grass when I have to toss the milk out.

We're looking at a Jersey heiffer this weekend. That will definitely ramp up the milk production if we buy a cow. Rachel is trying to remain a voice of reason, but I like the idea myself. I don't like the idea of lugging several buckets of water down to the barn twice a day though; I really need to get some water lines installed. Cows also eat way more hay than goats, and may go through as much as 1 bale per day. That gets expensive, so we would likely set up a "cow share" to sell some of the milk. This is about the only legal way to sell milk in Michigan without investing 10's of thousands of dollars.

Rachel is attending a workshop tomorrow on the legalities and requirements of selling milk in Michigan. Most of the speakers are state and federal inspectors, so I suspect it's mostly intended to squash people's ambitions. In most states, the laws were written by the large industrial producers to squash small competitors, and Michigan is among the worst in that regard. A couple generations ago, it was quite common for a farm to sell milk (typically raw) to their neighbors.

Henry is experimenting with new parental management techniques as of late. In addition to the frequently used tools of the tantrum, whining, and pleading techniques, he's recently decided that threatening to "not be with us for a whole year" might be effective. I mentioned that he wouldn't like living by himself in the woods for that long, and he seemed to agree. The least-favored parent at any given moment may also be told that "It's hard for me to tell you this... but I love <the other parent> more than you now."

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