Friday, February 27, 2015

Finished! Well... sort of.

Though finished is a relative term, our new barn is finished.  Well... at least finished aside from things like paint, gutters, stalls, rigging the hay trolley, glazing the windows, installing the surrounding fencing/gates, putting in a floor and/or concrete thresholds, water lines, electric service (not sure if I'll install that or not), cistern, and a multitude of other projects I'm purposefully ignoring for the sake of sanity. It is now barn-shaped anyway, and I think it's pretty. The pigeons don't seem to like the new siding so much, as they haven't figured out a way inside.

The new garden tool shed has a roof, and some framing is up around the windows-to-be, but the siding is still a bit lacking.  There are some leftovers from the barn, but I think most of it will have to be ordered separately.

February has been a rough month, with temps dropping below zero quite often.  Fortunately for our sheep, the lambs haven't started popping out just yet, but we've been expecting the deluge to start any day now -- for the last month.  Skiing has been quite good this winter, with no coverage problems whatsoever. Henry has really taken to his skis, and has been challenging us to ski races.  For some reason, he always arrives at the designated finish line before Rachel and I do.

With the cold temps and deep snow preventing a lot of other activities, blacksmithing has been a little more appealing. One day I spent out in our open-sided smithing / sugaring / lumber / wood shed watching the howling blizzard while I hammered away at a pot rack, which is now hanging above the cookstove.  
Now that our hogs are no longer slurping up the milk surplus, Rachel has become the cheese queen, with some great results.  Hard cheese making seems to be a real art, with very subtle differences in technique making for dramatic differences in the end product.

I've lately been reading quite a bit of Ben Hewitt's work, both his books and blog.  He and his wife Penny live in Vermont and have set up a neat homestead. They're also homeschooling their two boys in ways that I find quite impressive. Michigan does certainly have some advantages, but I've gotta say I'm envious of the community that they're situated in, where handcrafts and homesteading seem to be much more appreciated than they are in most of the country.

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