December 11, 2011

Before and After

From Hurricane Irene.

This is what you get for blocking our driveway.

November 27, 2011

Gathering wood

Sandy lying on the picnic table looking at the sky when Finn stops by for a visit:

A white ash tree that was wiped out by a fallen pine during the last storm. Ash is what major league baseball bats are made from due to its strength, density and very fine grain. The latter means ash bats are less likely to split or break. Ash is also great for wood burning stoves as it burns slow and very hot. Not only that, but ash is so dry that needs very little time to season. In fact, you can burn it right away. Below is the end of the second load brought out of the woods on the other end of the property.

This is a cord of red oak stacked nice and neat and ready for burning this year. We bought it from a local guy. It is probably the last wood we will have to pay for as the stuff we've been harvesting will have seasoned enough for next year.

Here is a cord of maple we cut and split over the past year from trees fallen in the past two storms. A cord is a tight stack of wood that is 4'x4'x8'.

Sandy's mom and dad came up with us for an overnight visit. We forgot to take pictures, but we do have this one of them watching four deer pass the cabin in the morning.

Finn at the Hudson River. He is imagining running across it because he thinks all water is only one foot deep.

November 13, 2011


October 31, 2011

Snow in October!

It's rare but it happened. We got two inches of snow while family was visiting. It melted fast but not before we took a few pictures.

This was Saturday evening.

And this was Sunday morning. The kids are growing up!

Can't think what to say about this one but I like it.

October 24, 2011

Firewood ratings and data

The folks at the Colestin Rural Fire District in Oregon gathered this extensive data on types, fuel value and ratings of firewood. It is everything we've been learning all in one page. We burn only oak, hickory, and maple. It turns out we've been doing it right!

Check out the fuel values chart.

It's a tree and art

So we had to cut this dead tree down as it was standing along our road, threatening to fall. It was a maple tree that has been dead for quite a few years. The nice thing about it standing for so long is that it is pretty much already seasoned, or dried out, and ready for burning to heat or cabin. At the moment it's all cut, stacked and waiting to be split next weekend.

I cut the stump a bit higher than usual so that I could try some carving with my chain saw. The H is still a part of the stump and will likely be there for a decade. You will see it as you drive along the road up to the cabin.

Our neighbor nearby heard the sawing and ventured up the road to see. He said, "Good thing your name isn't Quiggley."

"After" photo of the wood stove

It looks like new!

October 20, 2011

Log replacement

One final job we had done before winter was to have a log and timber specialist come in and replace the rotted logs and rafter tails at the back of the cabin. It was tough to find Tom Colucci, a remarkable builder craftsman, but well worth the search. Tom spent quite some time at the cabin and at his mill planning for the replacement of these logs in a way that would match nearly perfectly. Here are a few pictures of his work.

It's hard to see but the bottom two logs on the foreground are new (not stripped yet) and the bottom three on the wall set back are all new. Tom jacked up the cabin with hydraulics, snaked out the rotted logs and snaked in the new ones. When we corn cob blast and then treat all the logs in the Spring, they will match perfectly.

Some of the rot "before."

These are new rafter tails as well. This was a tough job, cutting and notching these logs to fit up in there!

A "before" picture of one of the rafter tails.

A couple of log ends replaced on the bathroom side.

Now we have a rot free old cabin!

Sandy does iron work

Sandy got down to metal on the wood burning stove and we repainted it with special paint - a matte black like the stovepipe by her head. Where paint had peeled over the decades, the iron had oxidized. We forgot to take an "after" picture, but it looks professional!

Installing a gutter and drainage

This section of the cabin has never had a gutter on it. The last step in our major efforts to move water away from the foundation is to install one here. Step one was to get an electrician to come in and move the utility lines down because they were too close to the eave. That's probably why no one tried to add the gutter.

After the electric work I took the rest of the task on myself.

First, because the eave is angled I had to cut a piece to adjoin to the eave so that the gutter hangs level. Without a table saw I had to rip this 35 degree angle with a circular saw. It worked well enough.

Here, in a later stage, you can see its purpose:

Gutter goes on (pitched 1/4" every ten feet).

After the gutter and leader is installed, I dug a trench and ran drainage pipe to the cliff. You can see the very end of the pipe that our excavator installed for the other leader.

And there you have it. The last of the rain water moves far away from the cabin.

October 18, 2011

Sophia visits and brings along her parents

We had a great visit with these old friends (there's that sweater again helping with the bbq).

Sandy made a new sweater

Here the new sweater is walking on nearby property owned by the Woodstock Land Trust.

And here it is admiring the new replacement longs fresh from the mill.

October 3, 2011

I earned a hammer t-shirt

For spending a half million dollars at the local Woodstock hardware store I earned a t-shirt crushed in the shape of a hammer.

Friends and Mike's new favorite hat

A handful of friends came up just in time for the first Autumn cool air. We had a great time once again. First, before our BBQ, we went to Oktoberfest up at Hunter Mountain. The region is populated with older generations of Germans (and now a few generations of their offspring) who were escaping those nasty 20th century wars. The Catskills is very much like the Bavarian Alps, so these folks move in, opened businesses, and imported much of their culture. That would include schnitzel eating, beer drinking, and the traditional Alpine hikers hat, one of which Mike bought. We had a blast up there, but didn't take any photos. Below is us back at the cabin enjoying Sandy's superb BBQ-ing skills and Canadian beer (it was cheap and there was no Spaten at the market).


Sandy laughs.

Prashanth says something that Mark isn't sure is funny.

My new hat from the old world.

Jake in front of the fire.

Yvette sits close to heat like a cat.

Autumn all of a sudden

Finally we got a break in the weather. We were growing weary of the wet, humid summer. August was the wettest on record in the region!

We have been working hard to clean up form Hurricane Irene, which did quite a bit of tree pruning and snapped a few large maples (60 footers). Mike put his chain saw to work and made fast work of next year's firewood. Maple is excellent for the wood burning stove as it burns very hot and slowly. We also saved many lengths between 2 1/2 and 4 inches in diameter so we can experiment with making maple railings. Maple is beautiful wood!

We also lost a big oak, which is the very best firewood.

Overall we sustained minimal damage form the hurricane. Nothing hit the cabin but some fallen branches. We did have one tree take down our electric lines but that's all taken care of.

This week we have a very talented contractor named Tom Colucci who is doing the log replacement and repairs. His mill has made approximately 40' of logs to match the existing ones. Our log home is what they call New England style, meaning that the logs are hand peeled and "natural," meaning that they are not all milled to exactly the same size and shape. Tom will be gently lifting up the good logs, snaking out the rotten ones, and snaking in new ones. This is both exciting and nerve racking! Photos to come.

September 26, 2011

Hudson Valley Garlic Festival!

The weather was supposed to be rainy, but we got lucky for the 23rd Annual Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. We forgot to bring a camera, but had loads of fun eating samples of garlic everything--from ice cream (not great) to wide varieties of pesto (best in the world, best in the universe, etc). See the link here We went in with low expectations, but it was a delightful day. A lot more farm stuff than we thought and everyone was friendly and wanted to talk garlic! And lots of good rootsy music, puppet shows, folk dancers, etc.

There was also a lecture area where we got to see Ric Orlando work some kitchen magic and sample an amazing twist on skordalia and roasted garlic caramel over vanilla ice cream. If you are a Food TV watcher, you may have seen him there. People have been raving about his restaurant New World Home Cooking since we moved up here. We haven't made it there yet and sampling these treats made me wonder what we are waiting for! Recipes can be found here I must say that while the garlic ice cream I bought was gross (I actually threw out ice cream!) but this roasted garlic caramel on vanilla ice cream was really awesome!

Anyone want to join us next year?

September 20, 2011

End of summer friends come by

We had some great visits lately from both old and new friends. Our old friends Marguax, Kirk, Charlotte, J, and U, came up the week after Hurricane Irene, and our newer friends Annie and Dave stayed with us this past weekend. We've been having a good time! In fact so much fun that we forgot to take pictures of these folks.

This is one of two beautiful kids, who were getting to know Finn and talking up a storm. They are great listeners too!

A Northern Walking Stick on a rock that looks like a dinosaur egg.

Finn resting after climbing a few scrambles at North Lake.

September 4, 2011

Irene III

Well, we will have red oak to burn in the wood stove:

Our driveway was overrun. The little creek on the right of the road is usually just a quiet place for frogs.

Out on the main road:

The water running off the road and down through the woods. Very intense.

The bank will be closed today:

More photos:

Irene II

Here are some more shots of the storm. Including Finn hiding under a quilt (handmade by Mike's mom) and our road that looks like a lake. Also there's Mike using the chainsaw to clear out the driveway so we could go to the road. Midori is (wisely) afraid of the chainsaw. Imagining the failed attempts to get to the nearest trauma center (only 30 miles and the hudson river away) through roads all blocked with downed power lines and trees. Though what she is imagining in that shot of her watching the wind as she sits in the window is the trees falling and cracking Mike in the skull or breaking his back because he's out chainsawing in the middle of a windstorm instead of sheltered in a log structure like his smart dog and partner.