Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy St Paddy's Day!

On St Patrick's Day we had a very green and glorious party!  Cheryl and Mary were the primary cooks, but Leslie helped all afternoon and Joan came to help right when help was needed.  We had a corned beef appetizer, Irish pork stew, colcannon, Irish soda bread, Irish pub salad, Irish whiskey chocolate cake, and Baileys Irish Cream cheesecake.  AND Guinness of course (which was also in the stew).  Besides feasting, we listened to Irish music, told Irish jokes and sang a few Irish songs.  Carl led us in a song he used to sing with kids when he taught school (I think we caught on, but maybe not as quickly as the kids would have). We also welcomed our newest member, Anna Misner, who moved in this week on the coldest, windiest March day in years.  Welcome Anna!!!

Delicious dinner!

Hart and our newest Elderberry member, Anna Misner

Miles in his grandma's St Paddy's day garb

Hart and Bill checking out the stew

Cheryl and Mary enjoying the Baileys Irish Cream that didn't go into the cheesecake

Leslie, who did a ton of prep work - thank you!

Graham, Becky and Michael serving up colcannon and stew

Karolyn and Cheryl - aren't they just so cute?!

The dinner crowd!

Instead of saying "Dick look up!" We should have said "Dick - look up and SMILE!"

Jim and Miles had a great time at the white board.  

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Beautiful White Oak

Several years ago when we were planning where homes would go at Elderberry, we had to take down a grand old white oak tree that was not looking too healthy.  The base of the oak was about 5' in diameter - pretty big tree!!  We saved a log from the tree that was a little over 3' in diameter, hoping to slice it into boards or rounds to use as furniture for the common house.  At first we found a sawyer who could do it, but we could not find a way to get the huge log transferred to his mill.  So it sat.  And sat.  Finally, we put an ad on Craigslist to find someone with a big ass chain saw who could slice through it.  We found a super nice sawyer/arborist/woodworker who came out this week with a 48" chainsaw and make pretty quick work of slicing several rounds.  Some of the log was rotten in the middle, so what is left will become firewood.  And someday, we will hopefully figure out how to make tables out of these very cool white oak slabs!

This photo was taken several years ago when Cecil initially cut the tree.  He is skilled at this!

TJ - cutting the rounds with his biiiiiig chainsaw
 The slabs are beautiful there is a lot of red coloration, which TJ said is a sign that water had gotten into the tree.  After several more slices, we found that the tree had a hollow spot.  It's amazing how disease and bugs can make wood more beautiful!
 TJ agreed to load the slabs - he estimated they each weighed about 150lbs.  So Mary got Zeke (Dick's Kawasaki mule) and a trailer, and recruited Dave and Richard, and we hauled the slabs to a shelter at Mary's house where they can be stored.

Hauling the slabs even a very short ways was a bit more trouble than we expected.  On our last trip we got a flat tire on the trailer.  After dropping it off, we went to take Zeke back to his barn and saw that one of the slabs had fallen off the trailer in transit!  So we picked it up off the road, got it into Zeke, and took it to the storage are.  We think these slabs are MORE than 150lbs!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

New Chicks and New Bridge!

New Chicks!
Yesterday, our newest baby chicks arrived!  We have several chickens that have given us eggs for a few years, but they are now mostly pets.  So we need more eggs!  Cheryl is planning a chicken tractor of some sort, and in the meantime she is keeping the babies company.  She ordered Dominiques, Rhode Island Reds and Black Australorpes.

Cheryl decided this baby looked like a penguin!

Riley is curious about the chicks too!

New Bridge
Several years ago, Elderberry and our sister community Potluck Community Farm, purchased a piece of land together.  It had just been clear-cut and was rocky and steep.  But OH THE VIEW!  So we bought it, and named it Bella Vista.  We often hike up there to watch the sunset or moonrise, or light a fire, or just enjoy the view.  We also drive up there with either the tractor or Zeke (Dick's trusty Kawasaki Mule) to mow, or to bring people who have trouble walking there.  The two-track that we drive to get there has a big wet mud hole due to a spring on the high side of the road.  So this year we decided to build a little bridge across the road, using OLD (23 year old) lumber that was milled when the road at Potluck Farm was built.  Since we had the lumber (and we cut a tree for additional stringers), all it took was a pipe, some screws, and a dedicated team of trail workers to make it happen.  Watch for a feature story about the bridge in an upcoming Elderberry Newsletter!

Leslie, Dick, Mary and Joan move a log into place (tree was cut that day)

 Dick, Joan and Leslie have several hand drills going and wore the batteries and spare batteries out on all of them.  It took a lot of power to drill holes and sink screws in solid, old white oak!

Phil White driving the tractor across the new bride to mow at Bella Vista.  It didn't break - yea!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Projects and Mardi Gras!

We've had several projects ongoing over the past weeks.  The gardeners have been super busy planting, we have been doing some site clean-up, our dog park has been fenced and is in use, and the trail committee has been building a bridge over a wet spot on the trail to Bella Vista (a lovely overlook where we often meet to watch the sunset and have a drink).

Over the weekend we also had a Mardi Gras party, complete with lively music, king cake (yes, with baby) and many other traditional dishes (3 dishes with andouille!).  Yesterday (the real Mardi Gras), Mikey was in the parade in Durham, and several of us went to enjoy the parade and dance to two great bands at the Blue Note Grill.

We have a busy couple of months coming up in terms of fun events.... a lawn party and a St Paddy's Day dinner in March; and a weenie roast and an egg decorating party in April.  Something about this unseasonably warm weather just inspires people to jump up and play!

Richard working on his chain saw at the workday

Mary moving stumps and rocks as part of site clean-up.  YEA tractor!!
Leslie and Rosemarie doing site cleanup

Mickey - can you really lift those rocks??
Mike working on the dog park (the dogs were all very happy!!)
Richard, Jack and Paul at the Mardi Gras party

Joyce - now THAT is a scary Mardi Gras mask!!

Jeff hanging out at Mardi Gras - in the background, little Even and Miles are enjoying the party too! 

Marj, Mary and Dick clean up a tree they cut to provide logs for the bridge.  Dave will use the smaller logs for mushrooms, so the whole tree will be put to good use!

Leslie, Dick, Marj and Joan moving the log into place across the culvert

Mary trimming the log so that the cross boards lie flat (well, mostly flat!)

Leslie drilling holes for long screws!