Sunday, May 10, 2009

Deed is done.

Well, the trap and having a heart thing did not quite work out.  At least not for the rodent.

I freshened up the greens in the trap, and walked out quietly to peek in the barn door this am.  My heart skipped a small beat when through the crack in the door, down the dark barn alley I could see the trap door clanged shut tight!

I opened the big cross buck door and walked into the dark barn.  As I approached the trap, I could see it was indeed closed but woodchuck.  I assumed he was sniffing around the edges trying to maybe sneak a snack through the cage wall and accidentally sprung the door.  I reset it, but in my mind I was feeling defeated.  It's been 10 days and nothing.

I repeated my habit of piling the dirt back in his hole, and with frustrating regularity, he would clean it out and escape on me again.  So now it was time for war.

Just as in the battle with moles in my yard, there simply is not the same satisfaction waiting and watching an idle trap.  For moles I keep pushing down their tunnels, all during the day, until I know that there is a mole in a specific tunnel because he keeps on pushing the tunnel up.  So I wait him out with a sharp pitchfork in hand and when I see the earth moving along the tunnel road...pow!  He's mine.

So today I decided to keep filling in the hole, and keep an eye on it for activity.  And sure enough, within a half hour he was opening it back up.  Woodchucks are active around 10:00 am I have learned from seeing them around the farm.  So I filled and checked at 10:00am.  By 10:30 it was open.  I re-filled it again, and came out at 10:50 and pulled up a lawn chair in the barn about 40 feet away with a sniper's view of the hole.

I am here to report that as of 10:57am Central Standard Time, the Woodchuck living in the barn at the Granary WoodShops is no more.  May he rest in peace.  I am assuming you all are not interested in pictures of the evidence!

And may I get back work!   Gee...I wonder what's next?! :)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Lazy Hunter

OK.  I apologize.

Its been a week and no progress or update.  Its a combination of I have been out of town up in Hayward for 5 days, and the fact that my fresh broccoli carrot salad mix stinks now and the woodchuck is not interested!!

SO, tomorrow, I am going to fill in and pack down his hole.  More or less just to piss him off probably, but also just for good measure.  A fresh stock of delectables will be added to the trap and a round two of trying to lure him in will begin.

I sort of secretly hope to spot the little furry-pawed rodent just so I can justify sitting out in the barn with my .22 and waiting for him to show his face!

I'll keep you posted.

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 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!

Monday, March 30, 2009

My first show in a year and half!!

I had my first show last weekend in Madison at the Lake Home and Cabin show.  A 3 day affair of mingling with the Cheeseheads.  One definitely can tell you are in WI vs MN at these shows....the beer and brats come out at around 10:45 am vs in Mpls the Norwegians wait til closer to happy hour...say 3:30pm or so for the beer.

Anyway, it was a good show.  At least in terms of making some new contacts, providing some quotes and meeting new people that some day will become customers.  I sold a very, very cool framed art print that I did just last week, and that along with 4-5 of my little art boxes paid for the show, expenses and travel.  So it was a good weekend!
Align Left
This coming weekend is the Mpls Lake Home and Cabin at the Convention Ctr.  I am looking forward to that too!  I have a a large 20 foot booth, and lots of cool stuff to show off!  The best contact I made last weekend was the Director/Owner of The Longbranch Gallery in Mineral Point, WI.  

A very very cool Elegant Rustic gallery in a very cool town.  If you have never been to Mineral Point, WI...take a weekend and stay in a B&B down the
re and see the town and the galleries and cool shops. Its worth the trip!

Sandy wants a whole collection of my stuff for the gallery, and is even talking about one of their Summer Soiree's being a feature and introduction of me and my work!!  That would be fun!

Other than a couple of nights in the Concrete Bunker...also known as the local Motel 6, it was a nice and successful trip.  I look forward to seeing some of you in Mpls this weekend!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Barn hunting

One of the better results from my moments of fame from the  WCCO TV segment was a handful of calls I got from people offering me barns and salvaged wood.  It is a great thing that people go out of their way to recognize my efforts to try and save what I can from these old buildings and give them new life.

Yesterday, my co-partner in crime when it comes to barn dis-mantling, Mike Cournoyer and I took a road trip up to Holdingforg, MN (near St Cloud) to  look at what we thought was going to be a very unique barn filled with 100 year old White Oak infrastructure and cedar barn siding.  I am usually reluctant to venture too far afield for barns as they are a lot of work, a lot of hauling, and they usually take a few days.  But in this instance "Randy" was so generous with his offer of the barn AND he offered to haul all the wood from his place to mine on a flatbed truck!

Well, to keep this story short and readable...basically after a 4 hour drive from the farm to pickup Mike and drive up to look at the barn...we drove in the driveway and were immediately disappointed.   It has been interesting over the years for me to realize what is useful, what is interesting, what is historic, and what I will actually use.  As opposed to just an old barn.

In fact, this year marked a transition of sorts.  Some of the first oak beams I hauled to the farm 8 years ago in a new-life bundle of excitement, I am now cutting up for firewood because I stored them under a tarp and they are now rotten.  So what started out as a pile of historic salvaged oak timbers from my first barn...has digressed to a semi-soft pile of firewood for my woodshop. Even in its last gasp, the barn is providing value to me, although not how I had envisioned it!

Well this barn we basically decided to walk away from.  Although free for the taking, this was just a recon-trip and I would have to plan on at least a 3 day weekend to come do demolition.  Why would I pass this up, you ask?  Well based on experience, the answer is:
1)  the visable side wall boards are less than 4' and not usable for tables, my biggest item
2) all of the supposed "enormous" white oak barn beams turned out to be pine, most of
     which were filled with powder post beetle holes and many beginning to soften due to rot
3) the floor boards were mostly bent and swaying from weight and water rot

So all in all, it was a generous offer; and there is a lot of "craft" wood there for someone, and I hope someone can find a use for it...but it does not quite pass muster for another trip and borrowed and cajoled labor to help me try to salvage a marginal pile of lumber.

The second stop we made, near Kimball, MN was from another call I got from a retired guy that used to salvage commercial and residential buildings for a career, and now was working at taking down a small farmstead on the edge of town in Kimball.  

This turned out to be a much more  worthwhile stop.  Stopping and seeing a yard filled with piles of wood scattered randomly around, I began to pick through the work he was doing, and a few jewels began to emerge.   A small pile of perhaps 12 boards he had covered from the rain and snow turned out to be White Oak planks from 12" to 15" wide and nealy 14 feet long.  These boards were used as flooring in the second story of the farm house he said was built in the 1890's.  Very hard to find old wood, and will make a few absolutely stunning tables!
In addition, there is a few piles of roofing and exterior sheeting boards that are White Pine, but some are as wide as 16" - 20"!!  Very hard to find, and very useful as single planked coffee table tops, or other wide plank table tops.  These boards will plane and sand beautifully, and provide a very unique look because one can simply not find lumber this wide anywhere anymore!  I look forward to making a return trip and loading up on lumber that meets my needs perfectly!  I'll try to get making a piece from one of these wide planks and tie it back to this story so you can see the trip was worthwhile afterall!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Another moment of front page fame

I thought I would get back in to the swing of sharing life on the farm, and little about life day to day at The Granary WoodShops.   I of course don't expect to become the next blogosphere sensation.  In fact don't even expect anyone to read or reply to this nonsense...but nonetheless, there is a lot of life worth sharing, and so I hope to be able to do at least that!  Share a glimpse into my alleged "good life".

How appropo that my first blog entry debuts the same day that my handsome face appears on the front page of the newspaper!!!  Again.  The Spring Grove Herald that is. :)   Yes, today the news hit the street in our small hamlet that "a local boy featured on Big City TV News Program"!!!   So the Spring Grove paper sent out a reporter to report on the news that I was in the news.  Read all about it right here: Spring Grove Herald.

Its Friday, and Lisa spent the first four days of the week in Mpls earning us another few dollars to make it through another week or two!!  Hurray.  I have been very busy in the shop cranking out goods for the upcoming shows and galleries that are waiting for my work.  If you get a chance, I will be in Madison WI next weekend 3/27-29 and Mpls 4/3-5 for the Lake Home and Cabin Show.  Its a fun show for stirring the need in us all to "get to the cabin", or at least get excited about the lazy days of summer ahead.

The other piece of noteworthy news found in the paper today?  BOTH, Spring Grove and neighboring Blackhammer Townships votes unanimously, if you can believe that,  this past week to keep the pocket gopher bounty at $2.00.  So we have that going for us!  In case you want to know how you get must present both the left and right front feet of the gopher at the townhall monthly meeting.  Payments made in cash on the spot.  Two bucks a gopher...hmmmm.  My good friend Larry Wiste is a professional gopher trapper, and I look forward to learning yet another useful skill from this amazing man!

So that's it.  I'll try to start posting a pic or two each time I post, and keep you aprised of interesting times here on the farm and in the Woodshop.  If there is something you want to know more about, see pics of, or hear more from me on...please send me an email!  Thanks, and thanks for reading.