After closing shop last fall at the Would-Be Farm, we set up a game camera, pointed it at the fire pit at Base Camp, and then betook ourselves South.
The game camera is a little modern marvel: a stout camouflaged plastic box, with motion-detection and infrared flash and a metric butt-load of memory.
How much is a metric butt-load? Over 13,000 images.
Here are a few highlights:
Rather than relieving my curiosity about what comes and goes outside the door, these photos only make me want to set up more game cameras, maybe build an observation blind, possibly get night-vision glasses, and keep my dang eyes open!
For the past week or so, my favorite skipper has been up at the crack of dawn, packing his lunch-cooler and hitting the road to go work on the latest creation. At sunset, he returns covered in sawdust, tired but happy, with inch-worm progress to report.
And some photos:
After finishing the frames last week, this week has been about stringers. These are like the skeleton of the boat, a big curved ribcage that will support a tight skin of okume plywood.
The obvious musical accompaniment to the project would be Elvis Costello's "Shipbuilding," but that's too mournful. Jimmy Buffet's "Boats to Build"? No. (Actually, NFW.) Even the wonderful Lyle Lovett's "If I Had a Boat" is de trop.
Oh, I know: the strangely soothing ambient sound of the belt sander: eeear. eeeear. chitter-chitter, eeear.
I should be able to add value to this gif from Giphy.com by saying something cogent or pungent or tangential.
But honestly, picture > words.
I don't think I can make this funnier or more mesmerizing.
Pollyanna checking in, grateful again for a few specific wonders:
And as a bonus, how about an ear-worm? This simple little ditty is on heavy repeat on my inner jukebox. I like the combination of gloomy lyrics and cheering tune, plus the nod to e.e. cummings is not a bad touch...
But there are more challenges at every turn. And more challenge races: There's one near Beaufort, SC; another on the Chesapeake; an event in North Carolina; one on the lakes of Minnesota.There's even a Race to Alaska (Thanks, Lindy!), which looks either horrifying or wonderful –– your choice. Each of these is calling out a siren's song, "Come! Try it!"
Over bull-shooting sessions, the consensus was that the new boat would need to be stronger, more stable, speedier, safer, easier, and safer again.
The new boat.
Yup. Plans have turned into action, and earlier this month, at the super-secret hideaway of boat-designer O.H. Rogers, a pallet of okume plywood from World Panel Products arrived under cover of night. Okay, full disclosure: it arrived before 11 am via local shipping, but where's the fun in that?
So, with plans drawn and other plans made, the boat-building process begins again.
Building a box. A big box. From regular 3/4-inch plywood. This box will provide the matrix for building the hull plumb and square. After leveling it and making sure it is square, the whole thing got epoxied to the floor of O.H.'s workshop. (No fear, afterwards, a concentrated hammering will separate it from the concrete.)
Laying up the stringers. Using a jig to make the cuts match, Mr. Linton cobbed together strips of fir and cedar to make 24-foot long stringers. The fir will be used below the waterline, cedar above the waterline.
Start building the frame. Every two feet along the length of the box, there will be a 1/2-inch plywood form in place. Each of these forms is known as a station. Station 0 is the bow, Station 11 the transom.
These stations, built one mirror half (port and starboard) at a time, create a male mold onto which the boat will be constructed. It's fiddly work, with lots of measurement and careful use of a jigsaw, but this step is key to making the hull shape. The fir and cedar stringers will fit onto the forms, bending and curving until they make what looks like a delicate insect skeleton. The okume skin will later cover the skeleton –– but only after all of the stations are finished.
And that's at least three full days of work away, so meanwhile, some other station work:
Plant asparagus once, and you'll get 30 years of harvest. So they say.
Some people claim that the plants keep producing for 50 or 70 years. Others know that asparagus also might fail to come up even once -- being plants and all.
We're testing the story, beginning last month (April 2015) at the Would-Be Farm.
We like asparagus. Grilled, roasted, steamed -- all good.
And since it's too hot in Florida to get anywhere with this veggie, I decided to squeeze in just a tiny itty-bitty wee bit more planting (I thought) into this year's spring schedule. Heck, after putting 40+ trees into the ground, what's a couple dozen asparagus crowns?
The short answer is: a LOT of digging.
Here's a brief tutorial of my technique: After planting the apples and pears and aronia trees, filbert bushes and pine-trees, turn your attention to the asparagus. Start by digging a hole. Turn it into a rather creepy little grave. Don't forget to use all those rocks for something fun, like a flower bed.
After reading some more about the needs of the asparagus, make it two longish graves, perhaps 7 feet by 2, a foot deep. Looking into the graves, try not to think about Treblinka and Bergen-Belsen. Use the rocks that came out of the graves to shore up the edges of the driveway or some such.
Once the crowns (the roots, basically, which resemble a spider a LOT more than a crown, but there you go, asparagus crowns.) arrive, you'll discover that the two long graves need to be twice or three times as long. They suddenly look less like graves than, say, the footer of a foundation. Which is more of a relief than it should be.
Since your main labor is out of town, keep as steady a pace digging as you can manage. Again, use those rocks for something. Perhaps pile them on top of the weed-block that you hope will keep the brambles from returning to this patch of the farm. Save out a few really pretty ones for your sister. She likes the striped pink granite ones.
Having excavated the ditches, now refill them a little, mounding up the center with the good stuff: composted manure, Epsom salts, ash from the fire-pit, sifted soil mixed with peat moss and rotted leaves. Go on, buy a few bags of good dirt. Ignore any twinges in your back. Daylight is burning!
While a mental coronation march plays, start popping the crowns into the dirt: splay the fringe of roots down the mound, giving each plant a foot or so of space, and then cover the plants with good dirt. And then with mulch. Spritz the area generously with anti-critter spray –– the concoction of egg and water and garlic has been allowed to go gloriously awful in the sunshine. Gardening rumor has it that nothing likes the smell.
With the remains of your stamina, water the plants. Alas, there is no well, no pump, no rain-barrel yet. Haul water from wherever it can be found –– the best water is, of course, up the hill in the stone cistern under a grandfather apple-tree.
Remind yourself, as you tote 10 gallons of water at a time down the driveway, that you are earning that beer, that cherry turnover, that pizza dinner. And helping your load-bearing bones form even stronger and denser matrices. Not to mention establishing –– potentially –– thirty years of springtime asparagus feasting yet-to-be.
The mention of "Florida" has a galvanizing effect on people in the North Country, I've found. It stirs wistful memories of vacation or possibly a short-tempered bit of envy regarding sunburns and seashores. And for some, it breeds up a raw contempt for the thin-blooded nambie-pambies who choose to live under the easy sun. "Oh," the voice on the telephone said, "You're in Florida, huh? Well, your trees are ready." Click.
"Where you headed?" the nurseryman asked.
I told him, and he considered it a moment before pronouncing judgement: "Clay soil there." True fact, but I explained about the mitigating gravel-bank and the former dairy barn. He nodded a few times and then gave me what I take as a seal of approval: "You put the trees on the driver's side of your truck-bed, keep them shaded until they get into the dirt."
Well, okay, then.
I didn't mention that I was going to put the trees into my sister's cellar until we* had finished digging the 40+ holes. Or that I didn't actually know where the trees were going to go. It's one thing to be flaunting my non-sub-zero winters. Quite another to be playing loose and fast with the trees.
*By "we" of course I mean "Mr. Linton." He decided against renting a power-auger, based on the rocks that are the pride of the farm.
Shoveling by hand: it was good enough for pre-Industrial folks, so why not us? –– I mean, him?
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