Wood Scrapers, Part Two–Barely Scraping By

Boo on Sandpaper

An entire set of curved scrapers costs the same or less than a box of sandpaper. The difference is that the scraper can last for years, or even decades, and doesn’t fill up your lungs with carcinogenic sander dust. Though the above curved scrapers are identical in appearance, they are of two thicknesses. The .04mm ones are for fine scraping, and the .06 are for more heavy duty work.

At the top right is the famous Bahco/Sandvick scraper. Comes ready to work, and can be used without burnishing. It’s thick for a scraper, at .08mm.

The scraper bring grabbed by the old Stanley #82 is a mystery, as the calipers say it is more than 0.1mm thick. It’s as stiff as a plane bade, and has prepared, aka beveled edges, on two ends, German style. it will make some serious shavings.

A typical burnishing setup includes a vise, and a metal working one is best. An absolute must is a good file, and sharpening stone. A carbide burnisher makes things much easier, and I have a great one that was made by Lee Valley Tools in Canada.

Scrape away. Your lungs will thank you.

May Day Breakfast with New Taters, Homegrown Eggs, and Leftovers

Let’s Eat!

We started off International Worker’s Day the right way, with our once every weekend Farmer’s Omelette. We had to celebrate the needs of workers to conserve every penny, so we made this partly with leftovers, although they were no ordinary leftovers. Having grown up on what we call a “dirt farm,” I know how to use a leftover.

The Base

Heaviest Skillet available

1 slice good Bacon (preferably organic)

New Taters, Precious

Just Enough Time to Wash off the Dirt

First, cook the slice of bacon. The real purpose of this is to render out the fat needed to fry the taters. I like to add some olive oil for extra flavor, if needed. These little gems didn’t need any. The Yukon Golds were so tender I didn’t even peel them. Naturally, I had planted them in composted chicken manure to begin with.

Fry the taters until practically done, and chop the bacon. Turn the oven on to 400 F. Time for the magic leftovers.

Leftovers

Grilled organic Onions

Grilled organic cherry Tomatoes

Chicken kabobs on Friday night, grilled over hardwood charcoal. It was all too good, and had those two left over. The Florida Maters were halved, and the onions diced. They just needed to be warmed, so I threw them in with the chopped bacon. Then came the money shot.

Eggs

Homegrown Eggs

Our chickens are getting fat and happy, and we had nine eggs on two days each last month–and we only have eight hens. Currently we are feeding about five families with our eggs. The birds will without doubt be demanding overtime feed soon.

Cook the eggs over-easy style in the oven, but without turning them over. Watch this like a chicken on lookout for a hawk, and take out while the yolk is still runny. This is more than enough to feed the two of us, plus a snack for our two dogs. They especially like the taters.

I Can’t See The Epidemic For The Trees

Winterzeit

Now that I have had my second Pfizer-BioNTech shot, and will soon be 95% to 97.5% immune to our latest plague, I have a chance to be philosophical on the subject. Naturally, I turn to our friends at Deutsche Welle, the voice of Germany, for my information.

As it turns out, a brilliant Polish scientist at the University of Warsaw actually predicted the epidemic in 2018. After studying previous Covid outbreaks, Aneta Afelt came to the following conclusion.

“By being one of the regions of the world where population growth is the strongest, where sanitary conditions remain poor and where the deforestation rate is the highest, SEA [Southeast Asia] meets every condition to become the place of emergence or reemergence of infectious diseases,” Afelt wrote in a 2018 article.

So trees are the answer. Need more evidence? How about another equally brilliant woman scientist in Brazil. She thinks they will be the source for the next epidemic. The reason once again is deforestation.

Here’s the numbers.  “In 2015 the (Brazilian) government-led Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) found that for every 1% of forest that was cut down per year, malaria cases increased by 23%.” And that is only the beginning. Professor Ana Lucia Torinho has the following to add.

“The closed forest is like a shield against external communities coming into contact with animals that are hosts for microorganisms that cause diseases. And when we fragment the forest, that opens new ways of entry to its heart. It’s a ticking time bomb,” Tourinho said, while pointing out the danger of large projects like hydroelectric stations in the Amazon.

Deutsche Welle

Columbia University in NYC has identified 3,204 different Corona viruses, just in the bats in Brazil. I suppose I won’t be going there anytime soon.

Here’s my woods now.

Temperate Forest

We have five acres of Oak-Hickory-Beech-Pine forest, and any number of second and third layer of canopy plants. One-half acre is right of way for the Alabama Power Co., which just happens to be one of the biggest polluters in the US. Shocking, I know.

Don’t worry about any epidemics starting in our woods. We occasionally cut down a small tree for making woodenware, but they grow back faster than we can cut them down. We burn deadfalls in the brick oven. Respect nature, and it tends to respect you back.

Great Garden Poems, Part Ten–To Penshurst, by Ben Jonson

Something of an idealized description of the old English country estate, though at least it has a great description of the garden.

To Penshurst

BY BEN JONSON

Thou art not, Penshurst, built to envious show,
Of touch or marble; nor canst boast a row
Of polished pillars, or a roof of gold;
Thou hast no lantern, whereof tales are told,
Or stair, or courts; but stand’st an ancient pile,
And, these grudged at, art reverenced the while.
Thou joy’st in better marks, of soil, of air,
Of wood, of water; therein thou art fair.
Thou hast thy walks for health, as well as sport;
Thy mount, to which the dryads do resort,
Where Pan and Bacchus their high feasts have made,
Beneath the broad beech and the chestnut shade;
That taller tree, which of a nut was set
At his great birth where all the Muses met.
There in the writhèd bark are cut the names
Of many a sylvan, taken with his flames;
And thence the ruddy satyrs oft provoke
The lighter fauns to reach thy Lady’s Oak.
Thy copse too, named of Gamage, thou hast there,
That never fails to serve thee seasoned deer
When thou wouldst feast or exercise thy friends.
The lower land, that to the river bends,
Thy sheep, thy bullocks, kine, and calves do feed;
The middle grounds thy mares and horses breed.
Each bank doth yield thee conies; and the tops,
Fertile of wood, Ashore and Sidney’s copse,
To crown thy open table, doth provide
The purpled pheasant with the speckled side;
The painted partridge lies in every field,
And for thy mess is willing to be killed.
And if the high-swollen Medway fail thy dish,
Thou hast thy ponds, that pay thee tribute fish,
Fat aged carps that run into thy net,
And pikes, now weary their own kind to eat,
As loath the second draught or cast to stay,
Officiously at first themselves betray;
Bright eels that emulate them, and leap on land
Before the fisher, or into his hand.
Then hath thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Fresh as the air, and new as are the hours.
The early cherry, with the later plum,
Fig, grape, and quince, each in his time doth come;
The blushing apricot and woolly peach
Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach.
And though thy walls be of the country stone,
They’re reared with no man’s ruin, no man’s groan;
There’s none that dwell about them wish them down;
But all come in, the farmer and the clown,
And no one empty-handed, to salute
Thy lord and lady, though they have no suit.
Some bring a capon, some a rural cake,
Some nuts, some apples; some that think they make
The better cheeses bring them, or else send
By their ripe daughters, whom they would commend
This way to husbands, and whose baskets bear
An emblem of themselves in plum or pear.
But what can this (more than express their love)
Add to thy free provisions, far above
The need of such? whose liberal board doth flow
With all that hospitality doth know;
Where comes no guest but is allowed to eat,
Without his fear, and of thy lord’s own meat;
Where the same beer and bread, and selfsame wine,
This is his lordship’s shall be also mine,
And I not fain to sit (as some this day
At great men’s tables), and yet dine away.
Here no man tells my cups; nor, standing by,
A waiter doth my gluttony envy,
But gives me what I call, and lets me eat;
He knows below he shall find plenty of meat.
The tables hoard not up for the next day;
Nor, when I take my lodging, need I pray
For fire, or lights, or livery; all is there,
As if thou then wert mine, or I reigned here:
There’s nothing I can wish, for which I stay.
That found King James when, hunting late this way
With his brave son, the prince, they saw thy fires
Shine bright on every hearth, as the desires
Of thy Penates had been set on flame
To entertain them; or the country came
With all their zeal to warm their welcome here.
What (great I will not say, but) sudden cheer
Didst thou then make ’em! and what praise was heaped
On thy good lady then, who therein reaped
The just reward of her high housewifery;
To have her linen, plate, and all things nigh,
When she was far; and not a room but dressed
As if it had expected such a guest!
These, Penshurst, are thy praise, and yet not all.
Thy lady’s noble, fruitful, chaste withal.
His children thy great lord may call his own,
A fortune in this age but rarely known.
They are, and have been, taught religion; thence
Their gentler spirits have sucked innocence.
Each morn and even they are taught to pray,
With the whole household, and may, every day,
Read in their virtuous parents’ noble parts
The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts.
Now, Penshurst, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud, ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.

Ah, the good old days, when a poet had to suck up to rich people, just to get a decent meal. At least now, they just have to kiss the Dean’s butt, to stay off of public assistance.

Cullman Strawberry Festival, 2021

We bought these last week, locally grown. Nothing better.

May 1, aka Mayday, is the beginning of the Cullman Strawberry Festival, at the Festhalle. There will be plenty of Chicken Dancing, and strawberries galore. Also, some lovely lass will be crowned Strawberry Queen. This schedule is courtesy of Cullman Parks and Rec.

Schedule of Events

7am

farmers market

festhalle

10am

kids carnival

museum gazebo

arts & crafts show

depot park

food vendors open

museum parking lot

dj laken pitts

main stage – between sets

cullman community band

main stage

magic show with brian reaves

First Avenue Stage

HISTORIC WALKING TOUR

UNITED WAY PARKING LOT

Lifesouth blood drive

depot park

bookmobile

museum

11am

cullman high school jazz band

main stage

cullman civic ballet – “Alice in Wonderland”

First Avenue Stage

11:45am

wallace state dancers

First Avenue Stage

12pm

the humdingers

main stage

strawberry soda throwdown

First Avenue stage

12:30pm

introduction of miss strawberry festival

main stage

12:50pm

the humdingers

main stage

1pm

cullman civic ballet – “Alice in Wonderland”

first avenue stage

1:40pm

the humdingers

main stage

1:45pm

wallace state dancers

first avenue stage

2pm

cullman middle school jazz band

main stage

strawberry eating contest

first avenue stage

2:30pm

strawberry festival baking competition

main stage

3pm

Doggie “Paw”geant

main stage

4pm

wallace state jazz band & Singers

main stage

Cullman ballet theatre school

first avenue stage

after “paw”ty

museum gazebo

5pm

cornhole tournament registration

festhalle

strawberry soda throwdown

main stage

5:30pm

strawberry bucket hoisting contest

main stage

6pm

lorirayne music

main stage

6:15pm

cornhole tournament

festhalle

7pm

avenue g band

main stage

9pm

after party with dj laken pitts

Edgy Bulgarians Strike Again

Bowl Time, and not of the Football Variety

I never knew much about Bulgaria until I bought these two Bulgarian made curved adzes. The country has a fascinating history, as they were ruled by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, and the Russians, in that order. The architecture in the capitol Sofia is mind blowing–think Unesco World Heritage Site quality. I know this because I am a card carrying member of Nerdlandia–I have two plastic coated UA degrees in my wallet.

The Bulgarians are especially known for smithing work, as far back as the thirteenth century. They haven’t slowed down any, as those two adzes prove. The big adze is a triple threat, as it works as an adze, a hammer, and a nail puller. It must be a common tool, as it was factory made. It is a wood butcher’s delight.

Mini-me on the right is blacksmith made. This needed a special handle, so I made one out of walnut. The smith who made this is a Mensch.

By contrast, there is also a spoon knife made by Hans Karlsson in Sweden. It cost more than the two adzes combined. Worth the money, as probably the finest spoon carving tool in the world. I just wish he had been born in Bulgaria.

Going Fruity While Rusticated

Not Just Another Evergreen Azalea

Being rusticated has its perquisites. In my case, its twenty less hours travel time a week, to do what I will. I have been buying fruit trees, and turning a good part of our garden into a mini-orchard.

New Plants–

Apple “Honey Crisp.” I love these apples, so I bought two. They are about to break dormancy now, as they came from the frozen northland of Michigan.

Cherry “Dwarf Lapin.” We had a great cherry tree when I was a child, and there is nothing better than a fresh cherry–except for good cherry preserves. I bought two, and wish I had bought more. Bring out the biscuits!

Fig “Olympia.” Either a fig from Washington state, or a plant named after one of my favorite opera characters, Olympia, from Les Contes d’Hoffman, or The Tales of Hoffman. Olympia is an automata, or really a life sized wind up doll, but Hoffman falls in love with her anyway, as he is wearing rose colored glasses. The youtube video of the soprano Natalie Dessay singing this role is one of the funniest things I have ever seen. I bought one, fig, that is, not a Natalie.

Fig “Violette de Bordeaux.” One of these also. Alleged to be the best tasting fig. It will have to fight it out with the cherries, as to which one makes the best preserves. Bring out more biscuits! Melanie Jane made me stop calling this violette de bordello.

Olive “Arbequina.” Crossing the border into Spain now, this cold hardy olive has become a hot item in this part of the South. A local nursery has a grove of them, and gives classes about their cultivation. These will stay in containers for at least a year. We have three.

The random evergreen azalea in the picture is not a hybrid, but a species plant from Taiwan. All our other azaleas are native species.

We also have three Hass avocado seedlings, and three Meyer lemon cuttings. Those will have to remain in containers for the rest of their natural lives.

Being fruity has its own benefits.

Great Garden Poems, Part Nine–Ah! Sun-Flower, by William Blake

Readers of this series will recall that Blake and his wife would spend time in their garden while totally nude. They must have also grown sunflowers.

Ah! Sun-flower

BY WILLIAM BLAKE

Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done. 

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow: 
Arise from their graves and aspire, 
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.

To finish with a quote from another favorite, “The One Song,” by Mark Strand.

Flowers bloom

Flowers die

More is less

I long for more

Comment–that sound like Blake’s fashion sense.

Great Garden Poems, Part Eight–A Bird, came down the Walk, by Emily Dickinson

The Belle of Amherst wrote more nature poems than you can swing a cat at, but this is one of the best. Also sometimes given the title of “In the Garden.”

A Bird, came down the Walk – (359)

BY EMILY DICKINSON

A Bird, came down the Walk – 
He did not know I saw –
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw, 

And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass –
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass –

He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad –
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. – 

Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers, 
And rowed him softer Home –

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim. 

I have always been jealous of Ms. Dickinson, as the she was considered a “no-hoper” in college, because the powers that be thought that her soul, or chance for salvation, was without hope. She left the Mount Holyoke Female Seminary after one year. Her brother was allowed to go to Harvard. Guess which one is remembered now.

Great Garden Poems, Part Seven–Is my Team Ploughing? by A. E. Housman

I loved this poem the first time I read it, though it still gives me the willies. Maybe more farming than gardening, but it involves cultivation, so here it is.

Is My Team Ploughing

BY A. E. HOUSMAN

“Is my team ploughing,
   That I was used to drive
And hear the harness jingle
   When I was man alive?”

Ay, the horses trample,
   The harness jingles now;
No change though you lie under
   The land you used to plough.

“Is football playing
   Along the river shore,
With lads to chase the leather,
   Now I stand up no more?”

Ay the ball is flying,
   The lads play heart and soul;
The goal stands up, the keeper
   Stands up to keep the goal.

“Is my girl happy,
   That I thought hard to leave,
And has she tired of weeping
   As she lies down at eve?”

Ay, she lies down lightly,
   She lies not down to weep:
Your girl is well contented.
   Be still, my lad, and sleep.

“Is my friend hearty,
   Now I am thin and pine,
And has he found to sleep in
   A better bed than mine?”

Yes, lad, I lie easy,
   I lie as lads would choose;
I cheer a dead man’s sweetheart,
   Never ask me whose.

Thanks again to the incredible Poetry Foundation. Even more thanks to our favorite classical scholar who wrote this gem.