Sunday, March 13, 2011

- Making little ones out of big ones: Whacking rocks

We cut a lot of scrub brush last fall ... mostly Texas persimmonAshe juniper (the locals call it cedar), Possumhaw and Yaupon (which look much the same, except that one is deciduous and the other is evergreen). My best estimate is that we lined about 200' of the driveway with branches piled 4-5 feet high and 6-8 feet deep, much like the pile looming behind this 4' tall tom turkey. You can do the math, but it added up to an awful lot of brush. Fortunately, we found someone willing to bring in a mega-chipper, leaving behind three piles of shredded wood that took up considerably less real estate.

We also have some walkways that can be tricky to navigate, to say the least. This is the path leading from the fire pit to the dry creek bed at the back of the property. It's pretty typical, with limestone ready to trip you up the moment you stop watching your step.

So I started spreading the shredded wood chips over one of the pathways, which was a pretty good idea ... except  there were some pretty high-profile stones with sharp ridges on top. Even with a thick bed of mulch, they seemed likely to trip up unsuspecting hikers. That realization inspired a trip to the shed to retrieve my old geology pick, purchased in 1975 when I was an undergrad at William and Mary.

Wielded with a steady hand (and a good pair of safety glasses), it made short work of the limestone in the middle of the path. I may have failed at flint knapping, but I definitely succeeded at rock busting.

Sadly, the old gray pick, she ain't what she used to be. After a couple of days, the shank started to work its way out of the handle, making it less than safe for continued path remodeling. I suppose I could get a new handle made, but I'm thinking a new sledge hammer may be a better call.

Until then, I'm heading to the kitchen to whip up a batch of Snickerdoodles. Which is a total non sequitur, but that's pretty much how life is these days ... better than fine.

  • 1/2 cup Land O'Lakes butter with canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs. Stir in flour, cream of tartar and baking soda. Roll small balls in cinnamon sugar and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes at 400 degrees. Note: I find these do better if you don't use convection.

Friday, March 4, 2011

- DIY flint knapping continued

Antler and flint 
Well, I tried flint knapping, which is the process of shaping rock into arrowheads with a series of sharp blows. I've since concluded that the art of making arrowheads isn't my gift ... not without a lot of practice anyway. But I do have a great story about how I got the antler I needed.

I was coming home from work one day and saw a yearling deer chewing on something that looked for all the world like a bone. So I stopped the van in the middle of the driveway, got out, and chased after the deer ... which promptly ran away (smart deer), but not before dropping what was in its mouth. The bone turned out to be a small antler. Why the deer was chewing on it is beyond me, but I picked it up and put it on the front porch, where it sat until my ill-fated go at making something out of flint.

Fortunately, Don has had a little more success in the DIY department lately. He added a second bird bath to the front garden bed and created a tripod from cedar limbs to hold a bird feeder. The birds don't seem particularly interested, but I'm impressed.

The birds will come around eventually, I'm sure. It's just that they seem to have other things on their minds right now. For instance, our local turkey harem has been joined by a strutting tom who fluffs up his feathers every few steps to impress the ladies. Quite a show ...