March 25th, 2013

​The days of spring are upon us, old things that looked dead are beginning ever so slowly to come to life. But, winter has not lost its grip upon us yet. Yesterday I saw snow falling gently in the middle of the day and was reminded that last year it was not until May 5th that we got clear of snow and ice. So we will keep waiting.
​Out in the woodshop we completed the staircase that has occupied a great deal of thought space since around St. Valentine’s Day even if many other things have occupied our hands since then. It began with a vision for a cohesive design to fit in an old house being given new life. We had the old eve brackets as inspiration, and we had the old banister as a relic to be resurrected. Many days and drawings and little thoughts later we began and bit by bit an idea came to life.
​Doing work on old houses is something like soil sampling. There are scientific facts that must be artfully addressed in an attempt to come to a correct resolution. Resolution is never simple and never without cost in labor and thought. But the more familiar you become the more the art and the science become old friends instead of bitter enemies.
​The Strawberries are beginning to perk up out of their winter rest, and even out in the bramble the first buds are beginning to break and show tiny leaves. The smell of chicken manure spread as the earliest spring fertilizer hangs in the bramble air along with the light smell of clover opening its little leaves to begin its work.
​Alexis is feverishly exercising the old adage of “hurry up and wait” as her season is on the cusp of its beginning, and we are all excited to see what comes.

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CSA 2014

We’re gearing up for our 2014 CSA season!  The CSA is a way for you to participate in the life of the farm and receive weekly shares of vegetables grown right here at Elderslie.  Click here to read more about the CSA or to sign up.

2013 first share of the year
2013 first share of the year

 

Chinese cabbages in all their glory
Chinese cabbages in all their glory
BLTs.
BLTs.

 

 

 

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March 1st, 2014

Monday morning I spent as little time in the office as possible.  I took care of the essential indoor work for the morning half of the day then gathered my measuring tools and headed for the field.  I successfully marked the areas designated for the coming spring planting and laid the flags for our new driveway… I expected Tuesday to be full of tilling in anticipation of our first planting next week: onions sets!  Well, Tuesday morning came with a chill.  Well, perhaps the ‘polar vortex’ phrase that’s been thrown around lately is more appropriate.  I was back to lighting a fire in the office and reading about grafting tomatoes.

Aside from seeing George, Ben, and Taylor’s vehicles parked at the shop when I arrive to work at 7:30 in the morning and the vehicles still there when I leave at 5:30 in the evenings, I haven’t seen much of the three of them this week.  They’ve been working like mad and I suspect, although it is occasionally stressful, all three of them are loving the work.  There’s nothing like pouring everything you’ve got into something you believe worthy of everything you’ve got.  These three guys form a workhorse of a crew.

Every once in awhile during the week, George pops in to check his email or fill up his coffee mug.  His desk has become a hazard.  Today when I finally finished recording months of receipts that had littered the desk, I found a roll of toilet paper, multiple pairs of pliers, a teddy bear, and pink paper cutout hearts (I think leftover from our niece’s office visit and not an indication of an attempt on George’s part to escape the stressful work of the week).  I saw him last at about 7:30 Friday morning… He was in better spirits than I but I attribute that to the fact that he was on his fourth cup of coffee while I had only just finished my first.

The CSA contracts are on their way to our 2014 members this coming week!  This is certainly exciting news.  We’re happy to announce that we’ll be collaborating with our flower farming neighbors at Chisholm Creek Flowers, Randy and Deb Jackson, to offer our members weekly flower shares as a part of their CSA share!  I grew up picking peonies for the Jacksons and have learned a great deal from their gardening wisdom.   I’m so honored to be able to offer their gorgeous blooms to our customers this year.

We’ll also be offering beef for sale at our farm stand this year from our friend Julie Bachman, JB Ranch!  There’s lots to look forward to if things would just warm up a bit.  Say warm!

the barnyard during the last snow…

 

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February 6th, 2014

cross detail
cross detail

Cold has settled on our state and we are all thankful for the persistent hum of the furnace or the crackle and pop of the wood stove. Outside the landscape is peaceful and waiting, much of life is waiting, but this is no time for lethargy.  Much is being done here at Elderslie.

Winter has brought a steady flow of carpentry projects. First this year was a pulpit out of Black Walnut. The Pulpit is crafted to have a forward movement like the prow of a ship whence its name comes, and each side is carved with symbols recalling Christ’s life and roles. The front is adorned with a Celtic Cross. The cross bears the Chi Rho symbol in the center with quatrefoils recalling the four evangelists at each extremity. The halo around the cross is adorned with a woven string recalling eternity and human life, both of which find meaning and reality in Christ’s life.

putting the panels together
putting the panels together

The Right side is adorned with the reclining or sacrificial lamb holding signifying Christ’s coming willingly to die. Below this is a Rose with 5 blossoms signifying the wounds of Christ born for sin.

Thistle
Thistle

The Left side is adorned with the triumphant lamb having taken on the sins of the world but not been overcome by them. Below, a Thistle, which is a Scottish symbol recalling the agony of the cross. The Thistle is also a symbol for retributive justice evoking the last judgment where the triumphant Christ will judge.

We did eventually get Varnish on it and it is installed at Jubilee Presbyterian Church.

detail on the preacher's side of the pulpit
detail on the preacher’s side of the pulpit

Soon after completing the pulpit we fulfilled a commission for a set of double doors in College Hill. They are arched with large panels and some quite substantial hardware. Manufacturing arched door components involves much care and some pretty serious tedium. We had a great time.

solid black walnut doors
solid black walnut doors

Constructing arched doors is only rivaled by installing them, which is an act of gentle and persistent care. All came to a good finish yesterday and they are now hung and awaiting trim.

The Vegetables are getting all kinds of organization as Alexis pushes through the difficult and tedious task of organizing each little detail and trying to prepare for the growing year. When she gets a minute she has been getting ready for re covering the hoop house, which now stands naked and shivering in the cold.

Feb 6 2014
no vegetables for market today! brrrr

Lastly, there are moments in our work that offer perspective. I brought home a white oak log from near Cassoday, Kansas about 10 days ago where a farmer clearing a field edge for soybeans. The small outer layer of young wood on this tree was older than I am and the growth rings stretching towards the center take that tree through the dust bowl, WWI, and pretty near to passing the early settlers who came to Kansas. I am overjoyed to get to mill this tree, and humbled by how many years it has stood peaceful and waiting. Enjoy the winter!

ready for milling!
ready for milling!

 

 

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