"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Very Busy May

Of late, we are often found working outside of the house from early morning till dark and truly enjoying every last minute of it. Unfortunately, tending to the numerous duties required if one is to attempt to live a "simple" life makes it pretty darn hard to keep up with blogging...but it is raining today, so I find myself with a bit of spare time this afternoon. We have been very busy with gardening, working on our long term goal of "financial self-sufficiency," and various other projects including gathering firewood in our spare time.

My wife, the dog, our old Ford pickup and I have to make about a 30 mile round trip, give or take a few miles, when we gather firewood. It doesn't sound like that far until you take into account that half of those miles are on heavily rutted winding mountain roads where the un-posted maximum speed is between 5-10 mph. On a good day we can cut and load over a cord of wood into our poor overloaded truck in about 4 hours, snake our way back down the mountain and be home before noon. This has been a great year for firewood as windstorms have blown over so many trees. That said, our goal is to take advantage of this and stockpile a couple years worth of wood.

And to think in days gone by, while living a much different lifestyle, I used to go to the gym and lift weights for exercise...silly me.

I love cutting wood, splitting wood, and heating with wood. I might have been a logger in another life, there is just something about the sound of a saw and the smell of freshly split wood that brings a smile to my face...even on the days that I forget to bring the chainsaw gasoline and have the nasty taste of fuel in my mouth all day from siphoning it out of the truck...yuck.

For an excellent total body workout try hauling just over a cord of wood uphill, by hand. Good clean fun, I like to tell Mrs. H, although at times I think she might not agree.

The best part of a day spent cutting and splitting wood and tending to all the necessary tasks that are involved in ones life when they attempt to live by their own hand is the utter exhaustion that comes at the end of each day. We eat good and sleep good....every day.

Last night we had with our meal the best loaf of bread, my new favorite, and so very easy to make in a snap. You can find a link to this most wonderful and Perfect German Bread at the Metamorphosis blog site. Thanks Silke! We loved it so much.:)

What else?

The garden is finally starting to grow, albeit very slowly as this has been an abnormally chilly spring with record breaking cold and frost. I don't have any pictures but will do a garden update soon. Also, my wife has recently completed her third race, a half marathon. I'm very proud of her and she did great, having advanced quite a bit from the previous year. I'm also very glad it is over so we can finally get back to our shorter more enjoyable runs.

Rowdy, the wonder dog, is adapting very well and thinks of our chickens as his 13 red headed step sisters whom he spends a good part of each day wandering about with while we garden.

That's it for now, time for me to get out to the garden and pick a salad. I'll leave you with a video of our farm animals enjoying their breakfast.:)


karenandjeff said...

I've been wondering what you all are up to! Gathering firewood is definitely a good workout. Looking forward to the garden update.

You Can Call Me Jane said...

So glad to read you again and know that all is well. If you're able to get enough firewood for a couple years, what will you do with yourself next year at this time?:-)

Please tell Mrs. H great job on her race! Jamey races, too, so we can appreciate the feeling of a race well run:-).

Mavis said...

Finally an update! I figured you were too busy to post. Glad you are back...and that dog of yours is crazy... oh well... a little chicken feed isn't going to hurt him.

Mrs. H... you are AWESOME!

granny said...

Ive been looking forward to an up-date! I knew you both would have busy.Thats a huge load of wood!And yes..much better exercise than a gym membership,lol.
The bread looks delicious,I will have to go check out the recipe :0)
Congratulations to Mrs H..what a great effort!
I loved the video ,lol.Rowdy sure has settled in nicely.
Im looking forward to the garden up-date.Have a great weekend :0)

WeekendFarmer said...

wow...look at all those wood!! You manage all that by noon? Would take me 3 days : ) Thats a nice saw you have...hasqvarna?

poor rowdy...is he eating corn or layer pellets : ) ?

Ayak said...

Rowdy really does think he's a chicken doesn't he? Bless him! I'd really like to keep chickens but Beki chases next door's chickens when they come into our garden so I'm concerned about what she might do if we had our own. She could take some advice from Rowdy I suppose!

Anonymous said...

I think that all of us have been waiting for an update.
It’s good to know that outdoor activities are what kept you away.

That is a lot of firewood!
I remember when we were heating our house on woods and how long it took us to cut them into small pieces. Now I would like to go back to firewood again. I wouldn’t mind the work, it is great exercise.

Silke Powers said...

Oh, Rowdy cracks me up! I love how he's eating with his feathered friends... I am soooo impressed with both the half-marathon and the wood hauling! You two are amazing! WOW!! Glad you tried the bread - I had a feeling you'd like it. I love that it's so good for you and so quick to make! We are leaving on our trip today - can't wait to go camping. I'm so hoping to see some bears and I'm always hoping to see a few snakes... : ) Silke

randi said...

I knew you two had been busier than heck because I've been doing the same..long days, hopefully productive. We need a Mike with a chainsaw here, feeling the same as you about getting ahead in the firewood category. We had some logging done and what a mess to clean up after! Anyhoo, look forward to the coming garden posts. Stay well, you guys. Oh, what a hoot is your pup!

Mr. H. said...

karenandjeff - I had to try and get at least one post in this month since I have been such a slacker in the blog department. Firewood is a good workout and a very productive too.

ThyHandHathProvided - One of the reasons we really want to get the extra wood is because we plan on being very busy with certain projects again next year. It would be very nice to not worry about wood for once. I'll tell Mrs.H.:)

Mavis - Mrs. H is pretty awesome and our dog is definitely a bit on the crazy side. His nickname is "Trouble" but all and all he is a pretty great little monster.

Granny - You really must try the recipe as the bread was so very good and easy to make. You should see that sill dog of ours in the evening when I put the chickens to bed, he practically climbs up on the roost with them to say goodnight. The long term goal is for him to become a protector of the flock when we are not around...so far so good.

WeekendFarmer - The saw is a Stihl, my old 1970's Craftsman is getting tired. I got the stihl last year and have had to repair it twice already, but it seems to be working good now. Yes, from the time we park the truck until it is fully loaded we give ourselves 4 hours or less to get the job done...that can be quite challenging as the trees are often quite a distance from the truck.

Ayak - I'm don't think Rowdy thinks he is a chicken so much as the chickens think he is a rooster. A couple of them are quite smitten with him...chicken love.:) It would seem that most dogs, depending upon their breed and age, that are not trained or raised around chickens will chase them down and kill them as that is their instinct. Rowdy really wanted to chase the chickens at first but has learned not to...finally, but we still keep a watchful eye on him and it will be sometime before we fully trust him.

vrtlarcia - The nice thing about wood is that is heats you so many times...cutting, splitting, and the actual fire.:) We have been having a great spring, but yes, very busy with outdoor activities. Your garden is looking great!

Silke - We have to stay in shape somehow...and it really is good clean fun.:) Actually getting wood is quite a dirty task, especially if it is wet outside. The bread was wonderful, we finished it off last night. We made it just like you suggested but also added poppy seeds to it. I must say I was surprised how quickly is rose and held form...very nice bread. I hope you do see some bears...but don't get to close...

randi - I know that you are busy this time of year and have a feeling we have both been doing very similar things...with plants. The one nice thing about getting our wood from the forest is that we can leave the branches behind. Good luck with your cleanup.

LynnS said...

Micki is the Queen of Idaho Shot-Put -- UPHILL, no less!

Logger-Mike....yes I do see that in you. And we just wanna let you know that anytime you want a Virginia-vaca, we've got tops still down near the stream and we can give you a free workout anytime you want one. Bring gloves.

Rowdy?? That's something our Effin would do. But Rowdy is polite around chickens and our Effin, well, he's not polite. He's a Retriever....Guess what they do? lol

Seriously though, lovely stacked wood -- like a pot of gold to my eyes.

I'm lusting for the mossy rock wall. Do share more photos of that zone -- it is beautiful!

(And see how all your fans have missed you??!)

Geno said...

Thanks for the update! It love being able to stay busy like that. We are looking forward to doing all of this but are waiting for the financing to buy our place.

Roasted Garlicious said...

yay Mr. and Mrs. H good to hear from you again... and yes May is a busy month, i'm behind as well... cute video... all the roughage is good for a doggy intestine ;) as for being a chicken saviour, i doubt u have much to worry about with him...

Mrs. Mac said...

Glad to see your post ... another inspiring one to say the least. What a good workout! Self sufficiency at its best!

Heiko said...

We are the lumberjacks and we wear tights! Well organised. I start panicking about September time! Our puppy seems to think he's a kitten.

johnnydesoto said...

Man I wish I had all that free time..lol. I have about 2 cords I need to get bucked and split too but have been so busy with work and getting the garden in that I haven't had a chance to get back to it. The garden here is starting to pump out also. I have grown weary of asparagus and am letting it go to fern, and now the snow peas and greens are coming on. This spring saw both extremes alternating between cold and very hot and constant wind. The onions had a hard time of it but are now established and starting to grow. Had to replant quite a few..good thing I had too many plants started :). Congrats on the marathon. Best I can ever do is about 15 or 20 miles a week before some injury besets, and then its a month or more getting over it.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Great update! Isnt it funny how this "simple" life just isn't as easy as it sounds?? Excellent work on the firewood..but doenst that stupid saying about how it 'warms you twice' just get under your skin about oh... 3/4 of the way thru a chord?

Diane@Peaceful Acres said...

Yes, you have been busy!!! Wow, Mrs. H can sure throw a log! Congrats to her on the run!!!

You almost had a country music song goin on there...somethin about a pick-up truck, a dog and a woman!! Then you trailed off.

Love Rowdy eating chicken food!!! That is too funny, he has made himself right at home.

I'm so far behind this year on my garden, I'm prayin for a miracle garden.

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - Micki is indeed getting to be pretty tough, I'll have to watch my self around her...she punched me in the arm the other day and it almost hurt.:) I would love to stop by and pick up that wood but don't think our old truck would make it that far...and there is the whole 10 miles to the gallon thing.

You should see how great our mossy front lawn looks.:( I'll try to fit some of our rock walls into the photo display one of these times. Notice how some of the iris are laying over thanks to Rowdy tromping through them.

Geno - It sounds like everything is going well for you and hopefully the weather will soon warm up a bit and your financing will go through....it's been a chilly spring, especially for camping out.

Roasted Garlicious - Rowdy does love to eat with the chickens. We have a long way to go before we can fully trust him but so far he is doing splendidly.

Mrs. Mac - Self-sufficiency in the heating department is a lot of work/exercise but a days worth of work will heat us for a month.

Heiko - So, do you sing and dance while gathering the wood to or are the tights enough? We will both have to be more careful with our dogs or they might end up a little neurotic when they get older.:)

Johnny - All my ramps died.:( Too cold, too wet...I'm not sure. We have had to do a lot of replanting this year as well, sounds like we have both had a few weather issues.

Ohiofarmgirl - It is kind of a dumb saying as, in our case anyway, the wood heats us about six times before we are finally done processing it.

Diane - That does sound like a country music song.:) How funny.

As long as Rowdy stays away from the eggs he is welcome to dine with the birds.

kitsapFG said...

I have to agree with you about the smell of wood and the heat from a woodstove is so much better (in my opinion). We have such mild winters and our house is quite modest sized - so even though we heat predominantly with wood, a few cords last us quite a while. We have enough left in the wood pile that I don't think we will purchasing any this summer. We have some deadfall in our wood lot though that we need to cut up and get seasoning in the stack.

Loved the video of Rowdy and his girls!

Dave @ HappyAcres said...

I'll have to try that bread recipe. I love using spelt flour. I made some pita bread with it last week, and it turned out great. I love seeds in bread too.

Congratulations to your wife on her half! Our running days are behind us now, but my wife and I have walked at least one half per year for the last 5 years, since we met.

It is tough to find time to blog when so much is going on. I've managed to keep posting, but my reading is way down. Now I need to go check on the cherry trees. It's always something!

johnnydesoto said...

Too bad about the ramps. Some wild refuses to be tamed I guess.

Mr. H. said...

KitsapFG - I agree with you about the heat, it just feels different than other forms...warmer.

villager - Wow, walking a half marathon it is pretty immpressive too. Actually, they say that walking is better for you than running anyway. Nice cherries!

Johnny - My ramp dreams will have to stay dreams I suppose. I guess there is a reason I have never once found a wild ramp while out foraging.

Faith said...

Hi Mr. H. You and my husband both love the firewood. He has put up all of our firewood already too. Every available morning he goes out and gets a load - birch mainly.

Robbyn said...

Oh I love the video...Rowdy's really growing fast. So funny to see the hens and the pup eating from the same trough :) Congratulations for completing the marathon, Mrs H! Looks like you guys are the most productive sort of busy...so neat to get to be outdoors together!

Mr. H. said...

Faith - How does that saying go "Make hay while the sun shines" or in our case in between rain storms. It's good that you already have your wood in this year as they are predicting that this next winter will be a La Niña for some of us northern folks with lots of cold and snow...or so I've read.

Robbyn - Rowdy is growing fast. He can knock over my parents German Shepard that out weighs him by at least 50 lbs just through shear ferocity. Their poor dogs refuse to play with him at all anymore. He is definitely our wild child but surprisingly calm with the grandson whom he just adores. He also some how manages to stay pretty calm around his little feathered sisters.

Lorena said...

I know what you mean about the cold,I still have my winter jacket out and feel lucky to have cut extra wood this year. Do you have any feelings on solar panels in snow country for electricity generation? or windmills? what do you guys do for electricity?I'm trying to get more self sufficient as well.Thanks

Carolemc said...

I was so glad to get back from a weekend away to see your post! I'd really missed reading them -- you are such an inspiration. Glad to see that all is well with you and yours too.

Mr. H. said...

Lorena - We had our winter coats on all weekend...rainy and cold. I have no experience with either solar panels or windmills although I must admit that a personal windmill for power generation does intrigue me. I have often thought that a windmill or waterwheel if one had a stream would be an excellent way to harness electricity for ones home.

Right now we are hooked up to the power grid but can keep the electric bill very low as we heat with wood, only use our clothes dryer in bad weather, and really try not to waste power.

Carolemc - Thanks! I'm going to try hard to fit another garden type post in soon...if it ever stops raining long enough for me to take a few pictures.:) I was just looking at your blog and love the poly-tunnel and chickens. I've heard that the weather in some parts of the UK has been a bit chilly this year as well, hopefully the weather will warm a bit and we can all get our gardens well underway.

Anonymous said...

For a change of scenery and weather the St. George, Utah marathon is the first Saturday in October.

Your homestead looks lovely.

Mr. H. said...

Anonymous - Thanks for the heads up, I bet it would be a very pretty place to run a marathon.

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