Moving Right Along (July 20)

On the old homestead, work continues slow-and-steady…

The process of building our first timber-frame structure has begun…It will be our woodshed, which I affectionately call our Half-a-Woodshed-Half-Built in memory of Little House on the Prairie, though I know Joe will actually build a Full-Woodshed-Well-Built-with-Additional-Loft-for-Storage. How does it look so far? 🙂

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It’s not a quick project, and has multiple stages, and I’m not sure if we’ll be constructing the actual building this fall or next spring. First, we have to clear and level the footprint of the building, which we’ve begun. Part of that process included taking down some trees, which will serve as various structural elements like posts and beams and braces, and we’ll continue into the forest felling more dead-and-dying trees for this purpose. We fell them, limb them, cut them to size, de-bark them, label them, check them off our list, and pile them up in our timber-pile, waiting for the day when construction begins! It’s a wonderful learning process, planning and preparing from tree-to-shed, and I am just the humble support crew to all of Joe’s plans, guided by the hand of the Lord as He teaches us to do even big things with our own hands!

Woodshed work is actually a filler-activity, which we work on in the times when we are unable to work on our first priority, which is shoring up our foundation. It’s going so well! Joe developed a very methodical and manageable concrete-form process, using materials we already had on the property – dimensional lumber from house demolition, and sticks from the forest! He laid a 2 x 4 along the bottom of our trench, and then used upright 2 x 6s to hold the concrete in tight to the foundation. We work from left to right, shoveling in concrete, which Joe packs in tight by hand, and then presses the 2 x 6 up into place and braces it with a stick.

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The result is this little stem wall unfolding beneath our foundation, supporting the edges and preventing erosion, and providing a two-foot depth for us to insulate against, so we won’t have condensation problems around all the edges of our floor this winter!

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It’s slow but happy work, knowing that this effort will do so much to take care of our home and prepare it to withstand many future winters!

In the midst of our foundation efforts, we took a break to enjoy the 4th of July fireworks in Machias, over the water…

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Work continues on the farm, moving more dirt from our wood-shed area to our farm area, transplanting some struggling seedlings, and even continuing to plant seeds for late crops…

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There’s still not much growing, per se…Everything’s still quite small and seems to be struggling a bit with poor soil and limited sunlight…We did thin out a few turnip-babies that were super-delicious in chicken noodle soup, and we’ve had some carrots and greens from the farm table that we started inside, and a few snow peas, all enjoyed with thanks and dedication to God…but what’s been more fun these days is enjoying what’s coming up naturally on the land!

In the forest, the dewberries are ripening…

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They taste just like little raspberries (they’re also called dwarf raspberries or swamp raspberries), and they carpet the forest floor, so I’m looking forward to lots more munching!

The serviceberries have been ripening on the trees. They’re also called juneberries, so I think they’re a little late this year, but one tree outside our back door is especially large and fruitful, providing refreshing snacks during our efforts! They taste like a combination between an apple and a blueberry, more tart when they’re red and sweeter as they turn purple.

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Most surprising for me has been the crop of dandelion leaves, which completely fill this bowl beneath the turnip and carrot thinnings.

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I’ve always known that dandelions were edible, but I never really tried them. Joe remembers eating dandelion sandwiches with his grandfather as a child, and he really wanted to try them, so he set the kids to harvesting them. It turned out better than I could have imagined! Not only is it a great task for them to gather the leaves, but they’re really delicious, cooked up with onion and garlic and salt and pepper, and very nutritious! And so I am now officially sold on dandelions 🙂

The kids come in often from their outdoor wanderings with little surprises – rabbit strawberries or shiny-winged moths or cool salamanders or brightly-colored pinecones! Their excitement is very delightful as they burst in the front door exclaiming, “Look at this! You gotta see this!”

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The very first thing we planted in our farm, way back before we even demolished the mobile home, was the wildflower garden, and it has finally begun to come to life! The poppies have been the early stars of the show, but the whole area has filled out quite respectably, and the bright colors and the buzzing bees make me smile and think about farming-years-to-come!

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Just a little slice of brightness amidst our work in the dirt and mud and the concrete and the wood-chips 🙂

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On one Sunday-outing, we made our way out to Lubec, the easternmost point in the United States, only an hour or so away from our house. We wanted to explore the town in tourist-season (you know, when things are open!), and visit the West Quoddy Head park to spend some time at the shore.

After peeking into some local shops and figuring out our way around town, we stopped for lunch at the Inn at the Wharf. The deck seating was perfect, with a beautiful view of the bay…

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…and of the ships at harbor, one of which brought in the lobster that we would be eating!

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Our first Maine lobster was greatly enjoyed by all, though the kids were quite content to go back to their burgers and sandwiches after a couple of samples 🙂

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Next, after asking for some directions, we found our way to beautiful Mowry Beach, staring out across golden waters to the Canadian coastline on the other side.

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Spencer had wished for a beach where he could walk out a really-really-long ways (like, all the way out to there, Mom!) , and with the tide slowly making its way out across a wide sandy shelf, he got his wish!

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The air was deliciously warm, with a gentle breeze occasionally stirring, and the water was so still…

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It was clear with a sandy bottom, making the afternoon sunlight dance in golden ripples around my feet…

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…and, knee-deep in numbing water, I could still smell the warm fragrance of the beach roses drifting past me on the summer breeze! It was amazing!

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West Quoddy Head has a wonderful little lighthouse…

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…and a long, rocky coastline to explore.

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It’s a great spot for whale-watching, though we didn’t see any. Several species of whales find these waters to be abundant feeding grounds, and I look forward to the prospect of returning with a picnic lunch one day to spend more time staring out across these blue waters, watching for spouts!

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This month, the day also came for a re-supply run to Bangor. We buy our staples, like flour, oats, rice, and beans, in bulk from a natural foods store there, about every two-to-three months. This month, we combined the run with a bulk order of concrete for our foundation work, and added in a field trip to Fort Knox and the Narrows Bridge Observatory for good measure!

The Penobscot Narrows Bridge, along with its tower-top-observatory, opened in 2007, replacing the previous bridge which had been in-place since 1931 and suffered cable-corrosion beyond repair. It’s a stunningly beautiful bridge, enjoyable just to drive across, and today we would also enjoy the 360-degree-view from the top of the observation tower.

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The nearby Fort Knox, in the same park, is a beautiful old fort made from enormous granite blocks quarried from a nearby mountain. It was built to prevent the British from sailing up the Penobscot River and harassing the new Maine townships after the Revolutionary War.

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It overlooks the Penobscot River, and the town of Bucksport on the other side…

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It is complete with cannons of all sizes…

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…granite spiral staircases…

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…long passageways with interesting, dark storage chambers for flashlight-exploration…

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…and rooftop-grassy-spaces with sweeping views!

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The following Sunday, we stuck close to home. We spent the morning in our forest…

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…and the afternoon at nearby Jonesport beach!

The air was warm, the breeze was cool, and the sun was in-and-out through a hazy fog lying close along the water. The tide was high, and the clear water was nice and shallow for a long ways out, just deep enough to sit in a floatie, or paddle around on a boogie-board!

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“Look, Momma! Momma, look! I can swim, I can swim, I can swim!”

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The summer days come and go, the projects inch slowly forwards…And tonight, at dinner, Genevieve said, “Daddy, when are we going on a trip? Like, when are we gonna pack up all our things and go to a new land?” Oh how wonderful! Well, if the Lord wills it of course, but until then, we’ll just keep enjoying ourselves right here!

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