Monday, July 28, 2008

timber frame near complete

about a dozen folks are on the land for lammas today, many staying through until next week. the work force has dwindled to a half-dozen dedicated folks but we got quite a lot done over the weekend. we have just four pieces left to finish, two of which are mostly complete. another day or two and we will be done with the timber frame carving for the kitchen. this is a major milestone. much thanks to everyone who has persevered for the past two seasons.

it's worth pointing out that we have actually accomplished the construction remarkably quickly given the number of days we have worked. for instance, the porch, which has a total of 37 pieces and around 80 joints, has taken, to date, just 12 work days to carve, most of them with two or three workers. that works out to around 6 joints per day carved, which is more than i anticipated would be done. taking into account our entire work effort on the kitchen, we have approximately 54 work days into it, which would be, with a normal work week, just 11 calendar weeks, or a bit less than 3 months. so, we ought to pat ourselves on the back for building quickly and with quality. of course, that's not to say we can slack off any time soon. we still have the interior of the building to finish. i'm hoping that all of you with decorating bents (and i know there are more of you in this category than in the timber framing catergory!) will step up.


thursday, daisy, peter, autumn and i worked the beams and afterwards dined out at zachary's pizza, where we either utterly entertained or completely irritated the waitress. later, in the yurt, we had a sweet (and naked) jam session and worked up four new songs.

friday, i finished up the braces with chamfering and other finishing touches while daisy organized the wood piles and cleaned up in general. i layed out a couple more beams, including the monsters that will hold up the porch that are 24 feet long and many hundreds of pounds in prep for carving saturday.

saturday, we had a revolving work crew, that included zenya, daisy, greg, mac, orange and me. mostly we mortised the beams and i cut one of the scarf joints that joins the porch beams into a continuous stretch. i stepped out for the evening, but the gatherers donned red apparel--jungle red in fact--in honor of the theme for the gathering, a reality tv version of "the women" to be enacted next weekend. moss moved much firewood.

sunday, mostly more of the same with mac, chris, daisy, me, neth, orange, greg, bambi and jim pitching in. we moved the longest of the beams with just four people. personally, i find it a lot of fun figuring out how to move huge things with just a few people. i realize this is somewhat unusual. moss and greg in their quest to tame the meadow, which apparently shook the engine mount bolts right off the lawn mower, spent part of the day getting new bolts and fitting them. moss also relocated the lower kitchen solar panels in hope that a bit more sun would charge the battery enough to keep the lights on regularly.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


despite sweltering weather and a lot of rain, we had a productive weekend. the porch rafters are complete, porch posts are 80% complete, porch braces are about 40% complete and i figured out the layout for the porch beams, but we haven't pulled them out. they are heavy and we'll need many hands to lift them for work. one is 24 feet long! it looks like there may be enough people by the end of this week on the land to help.

friday, peter and i put together a couple tent platforms. it took about a 1/2 hour a piece to assemble the frame and then we lugged them up to their sites with the help of moss and daisy and nailed boards to the frames to create the platform. we made them of green hemlock i bought from a local sawmill. i'm pretty sure some of the boards were only a day or two out of the mill so they were heavy! the platforms are propped up on rocks to keep them clear of the ground. i must say, it's awfully nice to sleep on the level. when we get to thinning the forest as part of our forestry program, we ought to have plenty of timber to mill for more of these. they're easy to make and light on the land. meanwhile, glitter and daisy kept up work on the porch posts, carving the tenons and reductions expertly. michel took up kitchen duties and learned how to make white sauce and used it in an innovative way with eggs and rice. it was delicious.

saturday, drew and greg pitched in with landscaping, mowing, and some carving. drew cleared the area around the stage at the old kitchen and greg managed to get a good part of the meadow mowed. it's looking well kept, grassier, less prickery. glitter, daisy, peter, paul and i worked on carving. greg and i layed out all of the braces and sawed them in prep for chiseling. it's been two years since we last made these. we scratched our heads for about a 1/2 hour trying to remember how to lay them out. after we'd figured it out i remembered my timber framing book had detailed layout instructions. sure enough, we figured it out right, but i decided to keep the book handier. greg got to work cutting brace tenons. michel continued to make lovely meals, with more white sauce. daisy made chocolate cake. yum. and we sang around the fire.

sunday i awoke early to get a jump on laying out brace mortices on the posts. it's a easier for me to do layout in the quiet of the morning. moss arrived mid-morning and began a burn pile to clean up the area around the circle. drew operated the boring machine preparing mortises for chiseling. greg continued work on braces, daisy on posts, glitter worked on his tent site, and we had some visitors from putney in the afternoon whom we met at the moondog in chester (where peter works) during lunch. mac arrived later in the day and took to work on the posts with daisy. i wrapped up two posts with mortises, peg holes, some cleanup planing and chamfering.

during the week, daisy is hoping to finish up the posts and some more braces. this will clear the way for bringing the beams in for layout and carving next weekend amidst lammas activities. we may be able to get a couple pieces of the porch up next weekend, but if not, most likely the second weekend of lammas. we're also going to pull out the peg jig to produce the handful of pegs we'll need to hold the porch structure together.

looking ahead, once the porch is up we will work on completing the upper windows and the bathroom corner, as well as framing the interior, installing plumbing, gas and electrical.

as always, it helps to let us know you're coming and we can almost always use help. register on the website in the calendar section (

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

back at it


howdy folks. we're back at it this summer, making good progress on the kitchen porch structure, which will be able to seat a good number of faeries in screened comfort. it's actually more of a trellis, but does have a translucent cover to keep it dry while letting light filter through. pictured is ophelia carving the bearing surface on one of the porch rafters while his kitty looks on with curiousity.

we'll be on the land every weekend through the october gathering (weekends are three-day affairs, friday through sunday, and sometimes monday, too), so come on down, or up, and give us a hand! we want to get this baby done!

if you're curious about what a work weekend entails, imagine awaking in your tent to the songs of birds and a misty new england forest. then a lazy stroll down to the "old" kitchen for coffee and, if you're lucky, some daisy muffins or a bambi omelette, and some fire-side chat. about 10am we head up to the construction site where we figure out who is doing what and where. in addition to construction, we spend a lot of time gardening and landscaping. around noon we have a coffee/tea break, and then lunch around two. after lunch we continue until the light fades, these days around seven, but as the summer strides to fall, about six. every once in a while we need all hands on deck and you will hear a shrill "yoo-hoo" thread its way through the trees announcing a "major movement" of some sort, such as the lifting of a large section of the timber frame. it's basically an eight-hour day, but we start late and work late. after dinner, we often gather to play music. some folks listen, others draw or write, while the self-proclaimed musicians jam. we've developed a small repertoire, thanks to daisy writing things down. we practice it and also explore new riffs, melodies, words, instruments, and anything else we think to throw in the mix. we've recently contemplated working it all into a musical describing how faerie camp destiny came to be! if it's raining or cold, we play in the yurt, and if not, by one of our three campfires. we knock off when we're all yawning. we welcome all talents (even the self-proclaimed untalented). we've been recording of late for our podcast, faerie home companion.