Planning for Future Harvests

The bucolic view from our deck.

The green corn is starting to turn brown and dry and the sky has become gray more often than not. Fall is here and I expect the trees to start turning quickly in the next few weeks. The grass in the photo above will become a pollinator meadow and several garden plots: I’ve already laid out the borders and will be removing sod soon to prepare the beds.

In late October or early November, I’ll plant the quarter-acre pollinator meadow with carefully selected perennial seeds and a nurse crop of sterile wheat. More delicate species will need to be started inside and transplanted and still others will be sown in spring. In a few years, with some luck and a lot of work, I’ll have a fully established meadow habitat to host pollinator insects and other creatures (and have less grass to mow).

Each of the six garden plots covers 500 square feet. One plot will be planted with smaller garden vegetables and the other five will be put into rotation with space-consuming crops like potatoes, squash, and sunflowers. Other plots will be given over to blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and lavender and a small orchard of six apple trees will round out the harvest. Herbs and salad greens will grow somewhere yet to be determined.

Here’s hoping that gardening books and magazines and thoughts of fresh, ripe, homegrown tomatoes will help me get through my first long, snowy Michigan winter.

A New Adventure

Our new (old) house on move-in day.

Over the summer, Emily accepted a nursing position in St. Joseph, Michigan—the culmination of three and a half years of graduate work. With this news, we quickly embarked on our first homebuying adventure. This turned out to be what is perhaps the ultimate exercise in marital compromise. While I’ve enjoyed a lot of city amenities over the last decade, having grown up in a small town, I had been wanting to move back to the country for some time. Emily was not so sure of such an endeavor but we were very lucky to find a rural property in close proximity to several towns, Lake Michigan, and within an easy drive of Chicago and Grand Rapids. Despite the horror stories we heard about first-time homebuying, our experience was as smooth as could be expected.

Our new house is a circa 1920 farmhouse on five acres in Royalton Township, Michigan. The area is mostly agricultural with specialty crops like grapes, hops, tomatoes, and fruit trees. We’ll have plenty of space to start a garden and perennial pollinator meadow and I plan to expand my beekeeping efforts. Emily will be just a few miles from work and we’ll be five miles from Lake Michigan when we need to kick back and relax.

Of course, we are feeling mixed emotions about all of this: sad to leave friends, colleagues, and neighbors in Columbus but excited to start a new chapter in a new place.

A Floating Vessel

Many clamps make light work.

The Bevin’s Skiff plans call for 3/4″ × 1 1/2″ chines. Hoping to use lumber I had on hand, I cut the required pieces from southern yellow pine. However, when I test fit them, it became obvious that the chines were not going to bend enough for attachment without seriously deforming the shape of the sides. After pondering the issue for several days, I decided to laminate the chines out of three strips of pine, each 1/4″ × 1 1/2″. This created a considerable amount of extra work but the outcome was satisfactory.

With the chines installed and planed, I laid the bottom on the upside down boat and carefully located and pre-drilled holes for bronze screws. In order to put a layer of epoxy on the underside of the bottom I rigged up a lift which also allowed me to gently lower the plywood onto the boat without smearing epoxy all over everything.

Suspended bottom.

Lining up the bottom with the pre-drilled holes was not as difficult as I had anticipated but it still took a fair amount of fiddling. Nonetheless, I zipped down the screws and cleaned up squeezed out epoxy before flipping the boat over and installing the quarter knees.

With the bottom attached this boat could float!

A whole hull (quarter knees have not been installed yet).