April 24, 2012

Mead wine, stone walls, wattle work, and the grey is gone~

The grey is gone, and our yard is finally dressed in new green!

I took the following photos just this morning, and I am amazed at the change after a day or two of rain. Adam is off this week, and even in the pouring rain of Sunday and yesterday, we have been doggedly working on our stone wall out front, and I am delighted with our progress. We probably have 30 feet or so of it completed---It's looking great. We have decided that we will leave an opening, and  set a wattle gate into it. We think it will look welcoming, and give access to the front yard from the road, beside using the drive.  Adam will again construct a wattle fence, crafting hand carved cedar hinges and latch, as before. I look forward to posting in a few weeks when the entire project is completed, but in the meantime, walk with me around my yard this morning...

  ***You cannot just go out and buy wattle fencing like ours. The 2 of us have tramped through woods cutting down all the fresh saplings needed, and hauling bundles of 15 or more 20 ft. long trees walking and dragging them through the woods, over hilly terrain, over and over again. We stripped off every branch and leaf from each one by hand. By the time we finished, we had cut down, stripped and used over 400 hardwood saplings in our almost-3 foot tall fencing around 2 gardens, and for wattle gates that we have designed ourselves.
 Because terrain is normally not 'even', you cannot just slap up sections of fencing. We built our fencing in long, continuous sections from the ground up. We put the posts into the ground first, at certain intervals, 'eyeballing' them to get them all at a visually appealing and similar height. This is not as easy as it sounds.  The saplings we cut down were very tall, as we wove whole sides of fencing using continuous lengths of tree, NOT piecing the wattle. We cut down and hand-stripped only enough for whatever section we were working on at a time. This is because if the wood dries out even a little, it is impossible to work with and weave, especially when you are working with lengths of 20 feet or more. We did not use a vehicle or any power tools in the crafting of our fences.
Wattle fence-making is a labor of love and NOT a job for anyone with a lazy bone in their body!

Looking from our sideyard near the stream, out toward the road.

The new wattle fence and the old stonewalls in the sideyard, looking to the back yard.
The herb garden in back. Plants are now coming up~We'll soon put crushed stone down in the garden and back area...
Here is the stone wall we have constructed across the front yard, looking down the length from the drive. It may look short, but this is about 30 feet long, with more than half to go. Grass seed has been planted in the foreground...

Here you can see about 30 feet or so of our completed stone wall, looking toward the drive. All the old stumps from the nasty trees that were taken down 2 years ago are now covered---Oh joy!
Standing at the stone wall, looking at the house.
Perennials are starting to bloom along the old stone wall in our sideyard...
Our porch entrance...We think it's very welcoming. It leads into our taproom~ To the left is the woodshed with the Queen Anne flag---we are Brit 18thc. reenactors~  
We are working on this portion of the stone wall today. Today, we will finish it off on the side closest to the drive. I am removing the brick walks myself and replacing them with crushed stone and natural stepping stones...

***UPDATE, SUMMER 2012~ 

Two young men in our town have converted an old store-front into an unusual, charming, and  now-renowned wine shop, The Meadery. They make and sell many of their own varieties of mead wine, exclusively. Mead is a very ancient wine, made with honey. On May 15th, they are hosting a fundraiser in conjunction with our local historical society---a mead-tasting party, with period style musical entertainment provided by the well-known and supremely talented Dudley Laufman. Their little business is around the corner from us, on the ground floor of an old wooded store from the 1800's, across from the wonderful little restaurant in the old train station.

The world renowned Dudley Laufman~
I'll wear my pet en l'air and petticoat---only with my spring straw hat instead...
 We plan to attend this little gala in full 18thc. attire, and I will at long last wear my French print pet en l'air and matching petticoat. Dudley is an old friend, who has played his fiddle, along with his wife Jackie, at many an old time contra dance that we have attended over the years.  We are looking forward to this special evening; to the musick, and to tasting some lovely sounding creations such as Sugar Maple Mead, Hopped Blueberry Mead, and Vanilla Bean Mead, among others, some warmed, some chilled. Here is a little history of mead, as told by our own local makers~

Inside 'The Meadery~
 "Mead (pronounced meed) or honey wine is an alcoholic beverage created by the fermentation of water and honey. Mead’s alcohol content can vary greatly between mild and strong, and it can range between still and sparkling. Similar to grape wine, mead can be dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.

Although no one can pinpoint the exact location where or time period when mead was first created and enjoyed, the history of mead can be traced back thousands of years to antiquity. It is quite possibly the oldest alcoholic drink in history and may have been accidentally discovered when old tree stumps serving as homes for honey bees were flooded during the rains and the fermentation process took place naturally, only to be found and enjoyed by the people traveling through.
Over the years mead gained in popularity and became the preferred drink in the Mediterranean during the Age of Gold. In fact, the word “drunk” in classical Greek translates to “intoxicated with honey”. Honey itself has been held as a sacred food for thousands of years; interestingly it’s the only food found in nature that never spoils!
Legend has it that during the Middle Ages it was believed that consuming honey would produce a male child to a newly married couple, which was considered very lucky at that time. Therefore it was commonplace for the father of the groom to gift the couple enough honey to last a month, or “moon”, hence “honeymoon”, to ensure that the child conceived would be a boy..."

The owners, toasting their shop opening~
The Meadery~We're proud to have it in our little town~
I plan to take pictures at this upcoming event, and write a post about it featuring photos next month.

1 comment:

Historical Ken said...

I am enjoying your postings and photos of the stone walls.
How lucky and blessed you are to live in such an area!