Bringing in the Firewood
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 3
Week 21: May 27, 2023
Firewood cutting expedition
It’s that time of year, time to bring in next winter’s firewood. Wood heat is our sole source of heat at Chocolate Box Cottage, adding urgency to the annual task.
Follow along as we bring in a load of firewood from the nearby woods. We are allowed to cut dead standing red fir or pine trees close in designated areas with a wood permit.
Sam sharpens the chain before we leave. Snack and water are packed. We dress for work: old jeans, long sleeves, hats to keep the sun off.
We return to a tree Sam previously felled. Next to it is a tree someone else felled and abandoned – with good reason. The center of the smaller tree is punky, rotten. It won’t burn well. Our tree is a Douglas fir, sometimes called red fir; it is tight-grained for softwood and will burn well.
Usually, I am the roller, but the rounds were too heavy for me to roll. Not only are they large, the tree although dead is full of water, making it dense and heavy, so Sam was stuck with this chore as well.
Sam splits the rounds in half, then goes back and splits each round into stove wood. I throw the pieces up in the back of the truck, then jump up and stack them tight. Sam previously awarded me the title of “journeyman stacker,” and I am very proud of my stacking skills!
Ma and Pa Kettle? No, Michele and Samuel Pryse sitting on the tailgate of the loaded truck, tired and happy. This is a good load of firewood and we worked hard for it.
Thank you for joining our wood gathering expedition! Have you ever cut your own firewood? How do you heat your home?
We were thankful to have time with our daughter Cameo and her boyfriend Marcus (plus sweet Corgi pup, Peaches) over Memorial Day weekend.
Family breakfasts, days spent on the porch, evenings by the campfire. What a blessing it was to celebrate Cameo and Marcus’ birthdays while they were here with a homemade lemon chiffon cake!
Most of the apple trees at Chocolate Box Cottage are just finishing up blooming – but for a couple of late apple trees. Tiny fruit are beginning to develop on the branches, which are quickly leafing out.
It’s fun to look at the miniature apple nubbins and imagine all of the apple treats ahead. Is this like counting your chickens before they hatch?
Just look at this silly little egg!
Not much larger than a shooter marble, and nearly as round, it looked so silly sitting in the nest box this morning along with all the other “real” eggs!
What is your favorite way to eat spring radishes?
Me, I like them rinsed under a garden hose, sprinkled with salt, and devoured while standing in the radish row!
Grow your own tea
Grow Your Own Tea
The thought might never have occurred to you, but if ornamental camellias grow in your area, you can grow tea camellias (Camellia sinensis), and further, you can prepare your own tea leaves. This includes regions of North America as well as India, the British Isles, and Asia.
You might recognize the name Camellia as a popular foundation shrubs with woody stems and shiny elliptical green leaves. The ornamental varieties bear a showy fuchsia-pink to red flowers that resemble roses with no thorns.
Camellia sinensis is a particular specie with smaller leaves and diminutive white blooms. The green, growing tips of this plant are what are harvested and processed to make tea: black tea, green tea, and lesser known white tea. All from the same plant!
Tea camellia plants can be started from seeds or cuttings from existing plants. If unavailable at a nursery in your area, check the Camellia Forest website.
You will also need the book, Grow Your Own Tea by Christine Parks and Susan M. Walcott, which covers cultivating, harvesting, and preparing tea leaves at home with home kitchen supplies.
If you’re an avid appreciator of tea, you might want to plant a few tea camellias and try your hand and preparing your own tea leaves. Imagine how special that pot of tea will be!
There will come a day when it will be too hot to cook.
Salads to the rescue!
If you’re tired of the same old, same old when it comes to salads, you’ll enjoy Salad Days. This friendly companion will inspire you to use all kinds of ingredients in your fridge, cupboards, and garden (and a few foraged plants!) to create new salads packed with flavors and textures so good you might find yourself craving salads!
Author Pam Powell, known as the Salad Girl, knows her greens. And all the other ingredients, too. She is the founder and creator of Salad Girl Organic Salad Dressing Company. Each recipe is paired with a tempting and yet simple homemade dressing recipe.
Color photos of each salad inspire my taste buds to action – year round, not just in summer!
Sampling of recipes included in Salad Days:
Farmer’s Market Cobb Salad with Buttermilk Peppercorn Dressing
Memorial Day Quinoa Salad with Ginger Cherry Vinaigrette
Pea Sprout and Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Rhubarb Vinaigrette
Kale, Sausage, and Potato Salad with Bacon Dressing
Peachy Keen Salad with Peach Vinaigrette
Published in 2011, Salad Days is still in print. When I last checked, there were two ridiculously cheap copies available at my favorite online used bookseller.
Blessings to you this week, Michele and Samuel