Pickle Raft Crushed, Rebuilt and Refloated

Crunch! Last winter a tree crushed our beloved Pickle Raft. This week, we rebuilt it. Here’s a quick (30-sec) video of how that went followed by some pics.

Introducing the Pickle Raft

A few years ago, my wife Julia and I assembled what looked like a patio on top of a bunch of plastic barrels and pushed it in to our pond.

We christened it the Pickle Raft and life was good.

Building the raft. We scored the barrels on… Continue reading

The Three Dollar Ocean: Rebuilding a Katadyn Survivor 35 Desalinator

The email came from the Falkland Islands. “Do you have advice and information about watermakers?” It was from my friends, sailors Thies Matzen and and Kicki Ericson.

Thies and Kicki and me in Whangarei, New Zealand. I’m on the left in wide-brimmed hat. Thies and Kicki’s sailboat Wanderer III, is under the tarp on the right. (Circa 2001)

I met Thies and Kicki in Auckland, New Zealand in 2000 where I was rebuilding my sailboat Sea Bird. They were doing… Continue reading

Sunflower Sunday Morning

Our kitchen windowsill: peach pits, sunflower and teapot.

It’s been a good sunflower and peach year here in western North Carolina. Last week we were enjoying Taylorsville peaches from 20 miles away. This week, it’s Kings Mountain peaches from a wee bit farther afield.

I’m a big fan of saving good pits and seeds. Right now the fridge is full of baggies filled with the season’s best peaches. Others go on the windowsill until I put them in a paper… Continue reading

The Garlic Journal

How long does it take to grow a head of garlic? Today I found out.

Last December, Scott, one of our hunt club members, gave my wife Julia and I 30 heads of garlic. They were amazingly delicious, grown by Scott in his garden. This, I vowed, I would have to try.

Scott’s garlic, well, what’s left of the original 30 heads he gave us. Hanging beside it, one of my favorite sculptures, a mango wood carving given to my… Continue reading

Wren Silhoutte

Morning visitor. A house wren perched on our locust clothes line support. The shadow on the left is our door sill. The vertical strings give something for the pole beans to hang on to.

Welcome to summer. My wife Julia and I are busying ourselves with summer chores on the homestead. Mornings, I’m working on my new book. Afternoons are spent building a new locust fence for the mules, tending the garden and leveling a pad for the new run… Continue reading

The Sound of Locust Splitting

Here’s how that locust log I’m using in my new fence sounded when I split it with my sledge and wedge. Locust is known for being one tough wood. Rot resistant, too. But what’s less known is how it crackles and pops when it’s split. I made you a recording of what it sounds like to split the locust log below.

Click on the audio below for the sound of locust splitting.

The sound of locust splitting
One of the… Continue reading

Pineapples or Pine Apples?

Seemingly non-stop rain these past 2 weeks. The sort that dumps 12 inches of rain on you in almost as many days. The type that holes you up inside so long you want to escape. The type that reminds you western North Carolina flirts with being a temperate rain forest.

This afternoon Julia and I sloshed down the driveway to escape the cabin. Lying in the driveway…..tiny pineapples?

Tiny pineapples?

Turns out they were pollen cones dropped from the white… Continue reading

Locust Fence Part 3: Running out of Posts

Today’s post was going to be about setting the first locust posts in the pasture I’m building for our mules and horse….until I ran out of posts. So, back up the mountain I went in pursuit of locust. I found such a beauty, and was taken by how much life it contained, that I wanted to show you some photos of how a log become posts.

Queen of the Wind Fall Locust Jungle: she showed me how many plants and… Continue reading

Three Little Birds

Bird One

Julia said, “I think something’s wrapped around its leg,” and opened her fingers for me to see. In her hand a phoebe with a piece of string wrapped around its foot.

I clipped of the thread with the scissors on my multi-tool. It flew away. Can’t say it was happy. We were, though.

The phoebe, also known as the eastern flycatcher. Voracious insect eaters, they love building nests in the tractor shed, right above my Tacoma pickup.

Bird… Continue reading

Locust Fence Part I

I’m currently writing my new book about my recent mule ramble from North Carolina to Idaho. Every day, the process goes like this. First I write my thoughts in longhand on sheets of printer paper. Then I scoot over to my computer and transfer that to my manuscript. Sitting in my saddle of course.

Nothing makes writing about a saddle journey as authentic as sitting in a saddle while you’re writing. To raise my keyboard and mouse, I employ a… Continue reading
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