Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spring is indeed for Ground Hogs, or Woodchucks as they say

We have a woodchuck in the barn.

How do I know this?  I walked into the lower ground level of the barn yesterday to check on some black walnut I needed.  A pile of dirt the size of a child's swimming pool greeted me midway down the alley!  The barn basically has a hard packed dirt, mixed concrete floor.  Along one of the posts is this huge pile of dirt.

I have seen these before and its a tell tale sign.  Damn.  I like living with and having critters around...but not so much when they move in.  Also, I went back later to scope out where to place a trap, and I saw the bugger disappear down the hole!  So now...its me against him.

If you have any good ideas...please reply, send an email or post them here!  For the time being I am placing some older salad greens, carrots and broccoli (good animal food anyway) in a Have a Heart trap and hoping to get him.  I was tempted to hang outside the barn with my .22 and wait him out since I know he's in there.  But I do have a life.

So stay tuned.....and send ideas.  And by the way...this "Have a Heart" trap idea.  I don't quite get it.  You mostly trap animals with razor sharp teeth and cleaver filled paws that can easily fly through the grating on the trap when you go to pick it up and allegedly "have a heart" to let them go....

Well...I am here to tell you...there has been more than a couple critter's that lost their heart inside my have a heart traps.  But that's a tale for another day.

The hunt is on at the Granary WoodShops!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Baby Goats and Wonder Woman

I think I may have mentioned the army of baby goats over at the neighbors...the Wiste's.  Last week Katie called and said one of the mothers was about "to kid" so Lisa and I thought we would go see the baby goats.  They are soooo adorable as 1 and 2 day olds!!

We drove up and walked over to the small calf and goat barn.  As we approached, we could hear some pretty frantic bleating of what we assumed was a Momma goat in action.  Intense, loud, painful sounding wails....we both looked at each other wide eyed and worried.

As we opened the barn door, a baby calf not more than a week old poked its head out from its pen just inside the door eagerly, and with a long pink tongue reached out to immediately taste my sleeve.  Katie and her super-Mom Sharon were 3 pens down the row intently mid-wiving the bleating goat.  We paused, a little worried and tentative at the door.  We came in and closed it behind us but did not want to spook Momma, or disrupt any of the action.

I could see Sharon had on a shoulder length rubber glove...a farmer's mid-wiving essential.  Katie had a hold of Momma-goat's collar and head.  They looked up a little worried, and said it was ok...we could come in.  The loud sorry sounding painful wailing piercing the barn, as the goat struggled with discomfort.  Sharon's hand and arm up to the elbow nearly disappeared inside the poor little goat as the wailing intensified.  Lisa and I tip toed closer, but dared not be too bold to insert our presence in the delivery pen.  Sharon's furrowed brow told it all....a tough and delicate delivery was pending.

Some murmurs between the two of them, and a struggling Momma goat, and Sharon's intense concentration on what she was feeling, doing, pulling and arranging.  Suddenly, Sharon said..."Here it comes..." and in a flash the back end of Momma opened up and Sharon's rubber-gloved hand and arm produced a slimy, wet and sticky 5 pound baby goat by the back feet!

They quickly pulled the mucus, afterbirth and wetness from its little pink nose and the little tiny goat began to cough ...a wonderful sign.  Lisa quickly grabbed the camera and handed it to Katie and a pic or two of the little wet bundle was captured!

It turned out we walked in just in time!  The poor little guy's feet were buckled under its body and it got twisted around backwards.  A perfect delivery is toes first, followed by a pink nose...and this little one was crumpled up and backwards until Sharon strapped on the rubber sleeve and took things into her own hands.  This woman is a human wonder of talent and knowledge!

We hung around and celebrated a successful birth while Momma goat licked the little one clean, and as we talked for 10 minutes she worked up the energy to drop a second little baby goat!!  All in a days visit! :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gathering Materials

I get a lot of people asking about where I get materials.  Do I take down my own barns, where do I get my bark, and tree roots etc.  Just in the last few days, a lot of different things have popped up and I thought I would share them as a view into my salvage material world! :)

1) At the Lake Home Show - a couple came up and had a nice set of pics of an enormous barn that is out in Montevideo near South Dakota.  A huge barn, tons of wood, and a jungle of beams.  I am thinking on this...but in reality...the days to take it down, the distance to haul it all, and the equipment it would take to do it right may make this a poor fit.  Mostly because its so far away.

2) A local woman stopped in the Bluff Country Gallery where I volunteer and we talked about me making a cool buffet like table from a 17: wide piece of wood from an aging barn on their property.  We got to talking, and they want the barn to come down soon, but have not quite emotionally separated themselves from it...but it sounds like a massive barn in my own backyard!

3) Just up the road about 1/4 mile is a classic farm dump.  A small ditch off the side of the road that a few local farmers dispose of "junk".  There has been an accumulating pile of boards, rafters and old building stuff that has grown over the years.  Some of it interesting.  I often walk by this spot and keep an eye on it.  Today I left email for my neighbor asking them if they know who to contact regarding maybe sifting through the pile and taking whats useful.  There is a lot of nice maybe 50 year old pine tongue and groove....we'll see.

4) I stopped at the local Spring Grove "brush dump" today.  A frequent stop when I am in the mood.  This is the local township spot for tree, branch, leaves, and brush disposal.  There is a massive 36" Maple log up there right now.  It would make some really cool slices for coffee tables or the like...but I doubt I will act on it.  Not a lot of call for those.  I often get some awesome Curly Willow trimmings, straight willow for trim work, and maple branches for my Adirondack work right here at the "local dump".

5) And lastly....when I was in the gallery yesterday I was noticing a great White Oak Burl table by Roger Meyer, a local artist and bowl turner.  It made me think I have not talked to him in a while and I called to see if he might sell me a slab of that awesome burl or if he had any other leads.  He gave me the name of a guy that called just yesterday about 100 miles from here that has a 40-inch!!!!! Burr Oak Burl with 5 feet of log still attached.  A 600 pound monster and an extraordinarily rare sized burl!!!  He may come to Spring Grove in a few weeks for the Bluff Country Artist Tour and may bring it with.  I agreed to maybe making him a really cool heirloom table from it in exchange for the whole thing once I see it!!
Recycled and Antique Materials

So, just about every week an assortment of opportunity from small to large presents itself for an abundance of material...all free for the taking, or available for an interesting barter!  Its amazing what we throw away, and what goes to waste...I am glad I get a chance to save some of it and move it along to its next life!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Trade Show Public

I just finished a successful Mpls Lake Home and Cabin Show!  I made a new bed just for the show and sure enough it was the first thing to sell....I love when that happens.

Like every human, I love talking about myself and my work.  That's pretty much what these shows are all about.  Telling my story of escaping the city life for the country life, and telling the story of the furniture.  Like my card says..."Combining nature and history to create furnishings with an individual story".  Each piece does have a fun tale to tell of the sources of the recycled wood.  Mixing a variety of 5 different reclaimed lumbers from 5 old farm buildings into a single picture frame, or a sofa table is both satisfying and fun to me. :)

People watching at shows is fun too.  I have these little cards made up describing each of the pieces of furniture, the history of the wood, and what makes it unique.  Without even stopping to read them, people would pick it up and try to peel it off the mounted cardboard...as if its the last one, and they JUST HAVE TO HAVE IT!!  I must have stopped 25 people from trying to peel off the labels and take them....I guess it tells me my stories are good and I should maybe make them into take away labels or something!

I had a good time with the kids this show.  I had my Adirondack Chess Set displayed proudly right up front.  Its amazing how many 10-12 year olds play chess!  I had a very adult price of $900.00 on the piece.  
As kids walked up and ooh and ahhed, I would make them an offer..."I will play you for it", I would say and wait for their eager reply.  Then when I had them wanting to play, I would say "You beat me, and you get the chess game for free.  You lose, you get the chess board but you have to pay for it.  Either way you get to take it home!!" and their eyes would grow wide.

Once they saw the $900.00 price tag, they of course would balk.  But I had 4 kids go find their parents and bring them back to my booth and very earnestly ask them if they would put up the $900.00 and let them play me.  No takers on that though....go figure! :)  It was fun watching them make their case on deaf ears.

I met some great potential new clients, had a handful of conversations about cool beds, and got to share pics and stories about the "Schmidt Beds" and how cool they are and about how much I like the Adirondack style of the Great Camps....I hope to be able to create a new masterpiece someday for one of the new clients I met at the show!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Art Gallery Soiree tonight!

Tonight marks the second anniversary of our wonderful little art gallery here in Spring Grove, MN.

It is a wonderful gallery that warrants a visit from any traveler to SE Minnesota.  The Bluff Country Artists Gallery is a non-profit gallery hosting some of the finest works from a plethora of fine artisans from the bluffs and coulees of the infamous Driftless Region along the river valleys down here.

It has the distinction of selling one of my finest (aka more expensive) pieces.  I have made a number of Elk Antler sofa tables and sold them from New Mexico to the bluffs of Stillwater to fine Elegant Rustic homes.  A couple of these cool tables can be seen on my website.  So just goes to show, you never know where your next client or order is going to come from!!

Lisa and I are joining in the celebration tonight of champagne and appetizers!  Fun in our small town!