Monday, February 25, 2013

Workshop Days

Here at the tail end of winter, there's a lot of work to do outside but I don't always feel like getting out in the cold wind to do it. I have a leaking hydraulic hose on the bucket of the backhoe and I need to get that fixed before someone calls and wants some work done, but I suppose it can sit for the day. 

Today we have a howling 31 mph wind out of the southwest. It's about 45 degrees outside right now, but with that wind  cutting through you it feels a lot colder. So I've retreated to the workshop to finish up a couple of knives I've had on the workbench the past week. I'll describe to you the morning process.

We wake at around dawn when the sun starts coming in through the windows. It'll wake someone up, and that person usually makes enough noise moving around to wake everyone else. Our cabin is fairly small and the plywood floor booms like a kettle drum when pounded by little bare feet running to the bathroom.

My wife usually beats me to the woodstove and she'll stoke up the coals and throw in some mesquite wood. All winter long our cabin smells like a good barbecue restaurant. Lately she's had a pot of bone broth simmering on the stove too so the rattle of the lid when the pot is boiling can be heard and the smell of broth fills the air. It's the simple sounds of a homestead coming to life.

We have cocoa of a morning as a starter. We rarely do a big breakfast, but the cocoa has eggs in it so it's more of a thin custard to start out days out. It's pretty fortifying. I'll sometimes follow it up with a piece of cheese or sausage to sort of fill the stomach in a way that liquid just doesn't do.

Of a morning I take a quick walk around the farm to check on things while the oldest boy does the morning chores of tending to the livestock. When we get a cow, milking times will be morning, but right now it's a blessing to be free from the tyranny of that schedule. I sure miss the milk though.

So the workshop is open to the wind on the south side so I have some light, and a small draft blows through there when it's cold but it's not too terrible. I cover it up with a board in the deepest winter. In the center of the workshop is a small woodstove that was what we intended to heat the house with first before we replaced it with the giant woodstove we used in Illinois.

I rob coals from the "mother fire" in the cabin and take them in a bucket out to the woodstove in the shop. It's a 40 yard race as the heat from the coals cooks my hand through the leather gloves. I pour the red hot coals in through the top of the stove onto a pile of waiting wood and wait. Soon there's heat radiating from the woodstove and I'm comfortable so long as I sit near it (as I am now). Smoke rolls out of the chimney, the only sign of industry from within.

My workbench is an old wooden door put up across two sawhorses. I keep intending to get around to building a proper one, but this has worked so well that I'm in no hurry. I am necessity driven in my work ethic. It looks like laziness to some, but one of the reasons I chose this simpler life is so that I don't have to grind so hard to get by. What work I do around here is hardly indistinguishable from what used to be hobbies.

If I'm going to run a sander I have to go start the generator, but today the knives have already been ground down to size and are ready for finishing. That’s an hour or two of handwork with sandpaper and a critical eye. I have a powerful need for perfection in my craftsmanship, but my skill always falls short. If the Lord is merciful, perhaps I will be granted the years at this craft to become better.

The stool I sit at is a wooden one I salvaged from the dump on one of my trips to haul away our trash. On some days I come home with another man's trash which I might find useful. The dump has a strict "no salvaging" policy which I flagrantly disregard and they pretend not to see me.

Today I've got a hunting knife with a walnut handle to finish up. Coffee is heating on the stove and I best get to it!

1 comment:

Gorges Smythe said...

I'm not working right now and thought I'd have some time to catch up with some things outside that need done. However, between a sinus infection that I finally had to go to a doctor about, and the daggone breeze, I've been staying indoors for nearly a month. So, I understand your frustrations.