We are back in Missouri after a month of visiting family and attending a friend's wedding out West. Apparently we are making up for lost time since in the last week a lot has been happening to move our projects forward. For one, we made our Pond fundraising goal and we have set up a date next week to have our pond excavated (woo-hoo!) Another hurdle that was slowing down our progress on the house was actually moving the timbers we cut in the woods nearby our house site. Mike and our friend Dan moved the timbers down hill to accessible paths (via the log-arch, an incredible tool... see left) and then our Amish neighbor Jake used his team of work horses and work cart to maneuver the logs to our work site. The horses make this task look ridiculously easy, often snapping two logs positioned at different angles together and deftly maneuvering them through a labyrinth of trees and underbrush at decent speed. The real feat Jake managed to accomplish was getting the logs over a 16 ft. creek bed that separates the woods from our house site. He did this by dropping off the logs on one side of the bed, bringing the horses around to the other side of the creek (the very long way) and then using a long chain and several people feeding them across to pull them across. It is a huge relief to have this step done.
Another interesting thing that happened this past week was our friends the Crawfords annual sorghum-molasses pressing party. We helped them for a day prepping and cutting cane in their field (imagine a corn-like plant only taller). About ten of us moved through the rows with wooden swords, whipping off the leaves and cutting the top seed-clusters before cutting them at the base and bunching them. Once they were all gathered and carted off, the second part of the
process started the next day at the pressing-fest. The extended Crawford
clan gets together annually to do this, bringing together four
generations and several acres of cane to be pressed. It takes two days
and one very old cane press that has been in Richard Crawford's family
for generations. I was surprised that molasses starts off in the boiling
tank a putrid green color and cooks down to sticky brown.
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble, eye of newt and toe of frog!
Last, we hosted a community work party on Monday and had a dozen folks
helping out on our land for the morning, stripping bark from some of the
trees that Jake helped move to the building site and also digging
swales into the hillside where next year we will plant our orchard. The
swales will help the hill absorb more rainwater and serve as a spillway
for the pond. They are also a heck of a lot of work to create, so
hopefully there will be more work parties to come. Either that or we
need to train a pack of dogs to dig holes along the contour of the hill.
If only. Anyhow, here are some photos of our work party, which was
finished with a chili-feast! Yum.