Easter, Firewood, and Forest Finds
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 2
Week 16: April 23, 2022
We are fortunate to live on the sunny side of the mountain, so the snow has vanished from our yard, and we had a week of rain.
Everything is green and growing. The lilacs and tulips are finally deciding to bloom, which mean (I hope!) spring is here to stay, after 2 false starts.
Follow along with us this sweet sixteenth week of April as we celebrate Easter, get firewood the old fashioned way, and come across interesting finds in the forest.
We celebrated Easter at a brand new church in our little town, Refuge Church. Our pastor Dennis Mortimore decided the best way to welcome the new church was to join forces and celebrate together, which made the day extra joy-filled. We love our church family and are looking forward to our two community churches being twin beacons of hope based on the work of Jesus!
Apricot Cream Sponge Cake for Easter, made with duck eggs and home-canned local apricots.
Miriam invited a friend for lunch, but somehow I didn’t get a picture of anything but dessert, which was Apricot Cream Sponge Cake. We “desserted” well this week, photographic evidence attests.
Dessert again? Not the same day, I promise! 🍓Whole Wheat crepes stuffed with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.
Salmon Chowder made with leftover Easter salmon. Chowder is a grand sleight of hand that turns bits of leftovers into a fresh new meal fit for a king.
I had the pleasure of a brief visit with my nephew, Garrison Hill, who does complex film animation work.
And it being spring, means Sam is thinking of next winter, so off to the woods we went on Saturday for firewood. Load #2 is split and heaped outside the woodshed, waiting for spare moments to stack.
Sam falls a dead, standing Douglas fir tree within the USFS prescribed distance from the road. Once limbs have been removed with a chainsaw, Sam cuts the fir log in rounds that are a good length to fit in our wood stove. He does all of this by eye, having been taught by his stepdad, Jay, who is a retired timber faller.
While Sam cuts the log into rounds, I forage for usnea, pale green lichens that grow like spiderwebs on tree branches, and cling to tree trunks.
Usnea is slow-growing and precious, though abundant here in the Northwestern US. Instead of pulling it from trees, I look for fallen usnea on the snow; it is nice and clean that way.
I will tincture some for its antibiotic properties and since it is plentiful enough, I mulch outdoor potted plants with it as well.
Time to start rolling log rounds. See my gloved hand there on a log round? Michele rolls the cut rounds down the snowbank to the road for Sam to split at the back of the truck. They are heavy, easily 200 pounds.
Sam splits fir rounds the old fashioned way, with a splitting maul and wedge. He visually evaluates each round to locate its weak point, where it will split with the fewest strikes, and places a solid stainless steel wedge there. A few, or sometimes only one, swings, and the round gives way with a popping sound like a ripe watermelon when it cracks open.
Then, depending on size, the resulting halves are further split into stove wood, pieces that will fit in the wood stove. Splitting wood efficiently is definitely an art, and one the Sam is skilled in.
Once split, we throw the pieces up in the truck bed – not too hard. The bed is protected by a liner, thankfully.
Michele stacks the wood tightly, also an art. It must be stacked in such a way that the pieces of wood lock each other in, so the load does not shift when we drive home. No longer a wood stacking rookie, Sam says I have progressed to journeyman wood stacker. 🏆 In fact, Sam says I can pack more wood in the truck than he does, which I take as a high compliment!
More meandering bear tracks in the snow.
Elk scat! We are in large animal country; bears, elk, deer, mountain lions live here.
Back home with a full load of wood, we deal with a few sheep who seem to have figured out how to let themselves into the yard for superior snacking.
So glad you could join us this sweet sixteenth week of April!
🌸 🏡 🌸Michele
PS. Want to read about another, very different week at Chocolate Box Cottage? Take a peek here.
Thank you for taking us on a beautiful journey with you! Always love how you share such a lovely life with us!
You are the sweetest, Andrea! Thank you for always supporting me.