Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Planting for the future

The property at The Lake has been in my husband's family for 67 years, and before that had a developed history of about 60 years, if you don't count the construction of the dam and saw mill at the outlet of The Lake in the 1850s.  Initially, the land around The Lake was logged off, and then the bare slopes at the north end were sometimes farmed.  Once The Lake shore was divided into lots and began to have camps* built in the 1880s, our property became a launching place for those camp owners who could only access their property by water.... which was most of them.  Further development came at the hands of a local hotelier who purchased the property and created a 9-hole golf course and built one-room log cabins ca. 1930 to cater to The Lake's growing popularity.

Cabin 3 ca. 1947

After World War II, Bob's great-uncle built up the property into a fully-functioning marina and store with gas pumps and the family property came to be known as the "Main Dock."  The golf course went by the wayside, and then the store, although the cabins are still around.  In the intervening years, the trees have reclaimed nearly all the cleared land and there's a fairly mature forest on the property now.  However, a neglected woodland is not necessarily a useful woodland, and not even necessarily a healthy woodland.  So, rather than wait for a forest fire to clear the underbrush in the natural cycle of things, we try to keep up with managing the wooded land of which we are stewards.  (And by "we" I mean the menfolk.  My mother-in-law and I do not wield chainsaws.)  This also allows Bob to fell mature trees for use in the building of our log house before the trees get mangled in ice storms or blown over during blizzards.

Since the trees are tall and most are nearly 80 years old, we are looking to the future of the wooded portions of the property now and planning....  for oak!    With the help of a friend's father, Bob and my father have been tending and growing little oak saplings for several years.  Since the time has come to transplant them, we've been scouring the lake property for the most desirable places to have oak trees.  It's trickier than you might think, since we not only have to think of where there are already cleared places where we'll want oak trees in 20 years - places with enough sunlight now and where the saplings won't be in danger of being trampled - but also where there are mature trees now that might be nearing the end of their lives.  Because, if we want to keep some areas wooded, we need to replace those trees that we will fell either for the use of their wood or so that they aren't a danger to lives and property when they get too old.   So, we wander and stare into the woods, and ponder what an area will look like in 15-20-30 years and how we want to shape it.

In some places, it means Bob has some brush clearing to do and/or mature trees to fell before we can plant our wee oaks.  But Sunday and yesterday, we got 11 of the suckers into the ground.  And by "we" I actually mean all of us this time.



Me with a pickax.  Stop laughing.   

The Boy, The Girl and my mother water the transplants.

Bob, The Girl and my father dig another hole. 
 Some of the 1930s cabins (with renovations) can be seen in the background.

The Hubs tucks the sapling in and reads it a bedtime story.

If they all survive, the oaks will add a nice bit of hardwood to the property.  And we'll be able to stand under them and say we knew them "when."

I love the way The Husband loves this property and is planning (and planting) for its future.


* Canadian Translation:   camp = cottage

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fire Pit, Year Two

It's been a while since I posted pix of the Fire Pit of Epic Proportions at my parents' house, and since it seems to be of general interest, I took some photos of the space in use last night:

After a full afternoon of planting oak trees (which I'll blog about separately) and a foiled attempt to pick blueberries from bare bushes, we retired to my parents' house for hamburgers, home-grown grilled veggies, and s'mores.   It was a beautiful day and a beautiful night... the kind that makes me glad to live in the North Country.

Friday, August 17, 2012


So Bob comes home two nights ago and tells me he thinks he's finally found the log we'll use as the post support for our dining room.  Great!  He says things like this all the time.  I milled up the boards for the ceiling... I found a bunch of cool new rocks for the chimney facing...  etc.  Even when it doesn't look like there's progress, he's always working, thinking, scouting out materials for our home.  Whattaguy.  But I digress.

He describes the log, how it grew all twisty and is visually interesting, which is cool... and then:    he tells me how he got it.  

When I say that The Hubs is building our log home from scratch with his two bare hands, I mean it.  It looks a bit deceiving, since it has a tar shingle roof and vinyl windows and some sheet-rocked walls... so... usual.   But, then he goes and does something like, oh, I don't know....   climb 60 feet in the air and cut off the top of a tree, and suddenly our house isn't so usual.

His father tried to take a picture of him up in the tree, but it was too far away for a cell phone pic and he was hidden by branches, and, frankly, it's better that I don't have that image in my head.

So, Bob wanted to get started on a project to convert his parents' carport into a bigger, better sugar house.  This will require felling several {very large} trees and pouring a new concrete slab before the ground freezes or snow falls.  Realizing that one of the trees was too tall to fell as is, he climbed up {like a monkey - with no climbing gear} to top it and make it more manageable to bring down.  When he got up there, he realized that it had grown with two rival trunks, one of which twisted around the other as it grew.  Cool, right?  So, instead of lopping off chunks at a time, he lopped off a 10 foot log to use in our home.  With a chainsaw.  60 feet in the air.  BECAUSE HE'S CRAZY.  

I must admit it's pretty cool-looking, though.  He somehow left both of our other vehicles up at The Lake yesterday, so I had to drive him to work this morning.  Benefit?  I got to see the log.  So now you get to see the log.

FIL Jim and Johnny measure the log 

I attempt to wake up enough to drive home and take a shower.  

Bob trims the log before setting it aside to dry

So, now I have both a twisted husband and a twisted log post to use in my new home.  It reminds me of the other times he's nearly given me a heart attack while building this house.

Crazy man.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The mother lode!

After dipping our toes in The Lake and attempting to wreak vengeance on a couple of wicked carpenter ants who have DARED TO ENTER MY LOVELY LOG HOME, the bairns and I swung by my parents' house just to say hi and such and see if there were any spare veggies lying about.  

Holy smokes!  Were there veggies?!!

This is the swag we lifted off my father  - minus a good handful of beans and a couple of thinned carrots that The Girl ate on the way home (and a random banana that The Girl swiped off the counter; I guess we need to feed her more):


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just for fun

Fun with mirrors:

First floor bathroom

And the potty-side gunport in case we need to defend from invaders during inopportune times:

That is all.  No progress to report.   Just some shots of the house I took before giving a tour to our friend Joanna-who-abandoned-us-by-moving-to-Tennessee.    *sniff*     And before our pre-K-aged daughters took a little skinny-dip in the lake and The Girl then loudly and proudly announced it to siblings, cousins, her father and anyone else who wandered by....  

Yes, no pictures.  You're welcome.