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Early Spring, Late Winter

spring

Sugaring season began and ended two weeks earlier than last year. By Easter Sunday (April 4th), we’d already hit 80 degrees and sap was spoiling in the buckets hanging on the trees. Buds fattened. Leaves emerged. Then, temperatures fell along with more snow. Despite the swings of weather, our per-tap production was up 5% over the previous banner year. In the photo above, Jackson and I enjoy the early April sunshine at the Rose family Easter gathering.

spring

Through the fits and starts of weather I worked to finish up the remaining timbers for the equipment shed. Although the greenhouse served me well as a winter workshop, it’s been a joy to set up outside since the arrival of spring.

spring

When it came time to cut the 20-foot sections of the top plates, my daily dosage of “vitamin I” (Ibuprofen) went up. Marion and I wrestled the timbers from the stacks to where I cut the scarf joints, mortises, and rafter seats. Then, it was back to the pile with much back strain and requisite grunts and groans. The lifting took its toll, prompting me to search for a pallet fork attachment and slings that will allow the tractor to bear the load. Come raising time those pallet forks will have become indispensable.

spring

To cut the rafter seats, I made a jig for the chain mortiser, allowing me to make the cuts at the required 26.6 degree angle (for a 6:12 pitch roof). Originally I’d thought I’d be making the cuts entirely by chisel. With jig and mortiser, however, I’m guessing that I saved days of effort.

spring

On April 25th I drove to Beverly, Massachusetts for a memorial service in honor of a woman whose influence during my teen years remains indelibly etched on my being today. Bernice Kyte, mother of my childhood best friend Ralph and his loveable younger sister Kathy, was eulogized with fondness after a remarkable life that touched so many. Prior to reuniting at his mom’s service, Ralph and I had not crossed paths for 29 years and it’s been 24 years since I’ve seen Kathy. While we only had a few short hours together before I drove back north, it only took a few minutes of time together for me to realize why Ralph and I had been so close years ago.

spring

A Mother’s Day snow storm weighed heavily on the trillium and other spring growth in the meadows. We received six inches of snow on the meadows, but parts of the state saw up to two feet of the white stuff. Over the past month and a half, spring has come and gone multiple times. The early season warming had a profound impact on many maple sugaring operations. Then, during early to mid-May, late season snows and continued frost began killing off growth that had emerged in the earlier record warmth. We’ve heard reports that the state’s apple crop may be seriously affected as a result. It remains to be seen how our orchard will fare.

spring

In preparation for summer crops we’ve expanded the size of the garden three-fold, including a large section on the slope that will be devoted to corn. The image above does nothing to illustrate how difficult it is to break sod with a tiller. By the time I’d finished fighting the machine for hours I came to appreciate (and yearn for) an age old implement, one which we do not own – a plow.

spring

After much cursing of the rented tiller, followed by hours with a steel rake, I was ready to put in the first of the corn. I’ll plant the remainder come Memorial Day. Meanwhile, my aching back needs a bit of a rest.

Comments

Great to see the continuing progress in the framing. Hope that your back eases up soon.

J.

I found your blog via an artist Cathy Johnson who is building a small retreat and linked her readers to various sites. Interesting history. For one I enjoyed the hint of hippy that hasn't left the man. For another, my husband was born and raised in Vermont but we are finally settled in Arizona living in the desert (not a city). I'm Californian and always will be so a bit of hippy has to be enjoyed. Third, I always enjoy tales of the venturous sort as mine is restricted to various forms of art. So anyhow, I enjoyed the visit.

Wow, I have just spent the past 2 days, off and on when I could sit down and read, going through your entire blog, I found your site while researching Tiny Homes as I have grown to have an passion for the Tiny houses and hope to return to my native Maine to live in one someday. Reading your blog took me through a roller coaster of emotions while reading, I spent hours reading and then re-reading the construction of your Tiny Home, the moving of it, and then with not a little envy reading while you settled into that beautiful property to live in your new home, truly inspirational to read this. I could go on for a long time here, the timber frames you are working on for the new barn look fantastic, good job on that! And Raven, how wonderful it must be to be able to live aboard a sail boat in the warmer months! I am sure that over time I will re-read your site again, I have spent many, many hours planning my Tiny home, trying to think of every tiny little detail, and hopefully live will allow me to fullfill my dream of living in a Tiny Home of my own in Maine someday soon. Thank you for shareing your lives with all of us here, Tim

Hi,
Your house is very well built with many fine & thoughtful details.

I am seriously considering building a tiny house and I wonder:

now that you have lived in your tiny hose for quite awhile is there anything you would do differently?

I also wonder about the width. Your floor plan shows 8'6" exterior width - does that include the roof overhang?

Also, if care to share what brand is your stove, water heater & refrigerator?

Thanks!

There are a few things that I'd do differently, but for the most part she's working quite well.

The overhang is not included in the width shown on the floor plan. As I read the law, it allows for things like awnings and roof overhangs to protrude (up to six inches I think) beyond the 8' 6" width of a trailer.

It should be noted that wider trailers certainly can be towed on the highway, but they need a special "wide load" permit.

The refrigerator is made by Dometic. The water heater we purchased is by Bosch.

Best,
Kevin

How is the post & beam barn coming? I have been looking forward to seeing some pictures of it. I hope you guys are having a great summer.

Best regards

Bill

Bill,

The frame is cut, labeled and stacked. All we need now is time to raise it. Summertime, however, does not come with enough hours in the day. Given that I make virtually all of my living during the May thru October time frame, the raising has been put off 'til the fall - hopefully on September and October weekends.

Best,
Kevin

Read with sadness of Bernice Kyte's passing. Ralph's loveable younger sister Kathy was my childhood best friend. Our fathers taught in the Littleton schools and our families were closely linked. Our older siblings were also friends. I read your blog with great interest - I have been renovating a very small turn of the century house for 10 years - and we are now finally seeing our dream of living large in a small space come true. Thank you for sharing... on many levels. KDM, LHS '75

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