Friday, December 22, 2017

In This Mountain Home~ All is Calm

I was off work early today which was a surprise from my boss.
It's a wonderful treat, because
this is what I drove home in.
It's kinda funny really,
my mom is stressed to where she was almost in tears the other day.
I of course eased her mind and lightened the mood by telling her
it was okay not to clean the bathroom.
That drain monster is a family pet.
The slime in the shower proves you have a "green" home.
And the toilet water only goes down so it doesn't count.
She had certain projects to finish, 3 batches of cookies to make,
and regular house cleaning to do.
What actually makes this funny is that Christmas is at our house this year.
They will have no company etc.
Silly Mom.
Meanwhile up the mountain~
at our house where people will actually be visiting,
there is laundry on the couch,
a wicker love-seat in the kitchen/dining area (yes, like on the porch- long story)
plastic totes from decorations are still near the front door
(but the tree is decorated!)
our family pet drain monster is alive and well in our bathroom,
the floors are coated with debris from boots and firewood,
the table has a partially finished craft project on it,
and I'm not worried.
I still have two days ~ plenty of time.
I remembered to take the turkey out of the freezer so all is well.
We never seem to have a shortage of food.
The snow is absolutely beautiful and creates a hush in the forest.
It's kinda like Someone is whispering,
 "Shhh, pay attention.  You won't want to miss this."
And for that, I am so grateful.

As our family comes together and reunites beneath the snowy sky,
near a cozy fire, and around a crowded table (especially if I don't get the love-seat out of there!) let's remember why we've gathered.

From our home to yours a very blessed and merry Christmas to you.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Budget Friendly Gifts for Kids

Let's start with a little excerpt I read recently. 
It kinda stood out to me. 
This is from a magazine article published in 1897. 

"It is the true spirit of present-giving; and let not any of our readers despise it as childish; rather let them remember that that which costs no time, no thought, no self-sacrifice is but of little value in the eyes of affection, and pleases only where the gift is valued for itself, and not for the giver."

This was over one hundred years ago. 
The pace of our lives has only increased since then - dramatically I might add. 
Our families (and communities) are more disconnected than they have ever been. 
Electronics rather than imaginations have become the babysitter. 
That said human nature is still within the hearts of children. 
They still crave attention and interaction
 (though now they often have not been taught the appropriate methods through which to gain attention and interaction- not their fault.)
Please keep all this golden information in mind as I present a couple of ideas for gifts. 
*A ream of paper along with a book or printed hand outs on how to make paper airplanes. Yes, they could do this on their own, but how about each person making one and having a flying trial to see which flies the fastest, farthest, straightest etc.
* A loop of string. I love this one!  Make it a nice sturdy string but soft to the touch and of a generous size.  After all by the time you warp it around your fingers for a mean round of cats-cradle, it shrinks up significantly. You could even print out instructions from the internet if need be. I love this because it actually takes 2 people. It requires interaction. The gift is really the time spent teaching and playing the game and giggling at the funny faces made while concentrating on not making a big knot. 
* Table top bowling - bare with me here. 
A few clothes pegs and a marble (boulder) and there you go. 
Here, I'll sow you ~ 
They are evidently called "doll pins" now - no hanging clothes with these.
You can even include a length of felt if you prefer it to be a bit quieter. 
I of course had to try my skill at which Mr LB laughed.
I got 9 then missed the spare.
I pick these up at thrift stores very reasonably.

I'll also share one from the past in case you missed it. 
Homemade Pickup Sticks
You could color the "bowling pins" in the same way as the pick-up sticks.

I love the feeling of Christmastime, but the consumerism not so much. 
I hope this gives you an idea or two or at least gets your thinker working creatively. 

And lastly, I would like to thank you all for your patience while we were without internet.  We were back in service by Wednesday evening, but it's incredible how long it takes to get caught up on things like that - or maybe just back in the swing of things.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Just So You Know

Our internet went out Thursday evening. 
Evidently, 6 years is old age for a motel. 
We are on the books to receive new equipment Wednesday morning. 
Until then, I just have my phone when I am in town. 
It's peaceful at least. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Creating Memories

The holidays are upon us.  Were you aware of that?  
I was actually shocked when I showed up to work this past Monday and realized it was the week of Thanksgiving.  Oh my!
I don't usually stress over having a perfectly set table or the perfect tree or whatever it is people stress over.  Actually, it's a bit of a relief in that I don't have to think about what's for dinner.  That's pretty much standard.  
Maybe some folks stress because they don't usually cook their own dinner.  
I'm not sure.  
There's a part of me that thinks we (as a society) are no longer used to functioning as a family so stress about doing it "right."
Our families are so scattered, it has become abnormal to be together.  
That thought is sad to me.  It came to my realization as I was looking online for a very old Christmas issue of a magazine and came across books sharing how certain folks (nationalities) celebrate, how to entertain your guests for the holidays, how to decorate to impress, and romantic Christmas tales.  It made me question, do we really expect a storybook Christmas?
I'm not sure what your family's like,
but I do know that our family is nothing like those stories.
It actually might be a funny skit if we tried to act one out.
That doesn't mean our time together doesn't hold 
valuable memories and traditions.
Those memories and traditions just look a little different
 than those of other families - as they should.
One of the fondest (silliest) was the year Papa (my dad) and niece 'C' had a little bit of a whipped cream war.
If you look closely, you'll see he has the big bowl of whipped cream.
It stayed in the washable rooms and didn't get too out of hand and actually began with putting "extra" whipped cream on each other's pie.
It continued most of the day.

* A tradition of ours~ desert first!
We eat desert about 11:30-12:00 then dinner close to 2 o:clock.  We were tired of having pies untouched after the big meal.  When we had my dear friends who are now gone share that his mom did that, we immediately latched on and have had desert first ever since.

* For Thanksgiving (see way back here.)
The kids would make treats for the birds.  My daughter especially enjoyed this.  My son preferred to eat the peanut-butter himself.  I still love this picture.
* A Fond Christmas Memory
When I was a youngster (back when dust was new,) and we went to my maternal grandparents' house for Christmas, I would always admire the tinsel.
I believe it was actually my great-grandmother's.
It was that old, real metal kind that was just shy of 1/8" wide.
Nana would hang each strand individually and after Christmas, she would remove each strand and place it back in the box.
I loved that tinsel and couldn't believe she hung it up 1 strand at a time!
Hanging the tinsel was always a test of patience as a kid.
My mom has that tinsel now.
She doesn't use it every year, but I notice when she does.

* A Tradition for the Kids
When my munchkins were little, things were pretty tight financially.
I was a single mom for most of their youth.  One thing we did was at some point in December we would have a slumber party.  After dinner, we would clear the living-room and bring all kinds of blankets and pillows down and make a big bed.  They would pick a Christmas movie to watch and we would have hot chocky and watch a movie.  And here's the really cool part - on a school night.  Whoa!  It wasn't difficult or expensive, but it was special.

The thing is ~ non of these things that are special to me are in books or movies.  They are just the things that work in our family.  We have a very casual family, and we are comfortable being around one another so other than crowded rooms it's just nice to catch up and visit.

Here's wishing each of you a special holiday season.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Friday Quick Tip - Organizing Essential Oils

In the last post, I mentioned that I keep a list of things I am on the lookout for.
One of the things that had been on the list for a long time was a spice rack. 
I wanted one of those old ones like I remember from way back in my youth. 
A while back, my mom and I were in a neighboring town. 
I asked if she would mind stopping in at their thrift store 
to look for pants for Mr LB. 
She does not like thrift shops but if it's for Mr LB, it's okay. 
We found men's jeans but none in his size. 
I asked if she would mind if I walked through the housewares really quickly. 
She said "Why?  What do you need?"
I told her I keep a list and one thing was a wooden spice rack. 
I went down one isle and her another. 
In less than a minute, she came around the end and said "is this the kind?"
I laughed and threatened to take her thrifting with me more often. 
I told her I'd been looking for one for a long time for my essential oils. 
Until then, my EOs were kinda homeless and in no particular order. 
They now have both and are convenient as well. 
I treated Mom to lunch so she said it was worth it for her. 

I hope you all had a very blessed Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Buy It Once ~ Buy It For Life

Recently, I was propositioned to be a part of a sustainable info graphic as part of a sale promotion.
Though flattered that they would ask little ol' me, 
I decided not to do it for a couple of reasons.
It did however get me to thinking.
They asked what my number one sustainable tip would be.
I wasn't really sure since there are so many aspects to this lifestyle we are trying to live.
And with that, we aren't always successful.
After a couple days of pondering, I came up with the title of this post.
Buy It Once and Buy It For Life
I think this would be it.
From utensils, shoes, tools, housewares, to automobiles and clothes.
Yes, some things do wear out.
But shoes for example- I purchased these shoes over three years.
They were $200ish dollars.
They are the most expensive shoes I've ever purchased.
I wear them nearly every day, 5 out of 7 days each week or more.
(Yea, I know they are due for a polishing.)
Since purchasing them, I have had the heel tip replaced and recently a portion on each restitched.
I've spent about $35 on these repairs.
They are still comfortable and are a basic black shoe that should reasonably last another year or two.
Maybe more, but if at 5 years they begin to fall apart, I will understand.
I keep a list of things I would eventually like to find.
About a month ago, I got to scratch one of those things off the list.
I found a concrete double sink like this one.
I would show you mine, but it's not set up yet, and the light is burnt out in that corner of the shop
so a picture of it would be less than flattering.
We process any game we are fortunate to get as well as large batches of fruits and vegetables.
Our grandmothers knew what they were doing when they used these sinks.
They are deep and sturdy = extremely functional.
This is an item that was on my list for 2-3 years.
The thing is, I wasn't willing to settle.
I ran across many of the plastic "shop sinks."
I had also found several of the sinks like this, but the owners were asking way too much
and advertised them as yard ornaments with pictures of them filled with flowers.
Again, I didn't settle.
Aside from the crazy prices being asked, I was planning to use it as a sink
for food and have it properly plumbed.
If it was outside with flowers planted in it, the quality would be questionable.
The sink we now have may very well out live me.
I should never have to buy another one.
We buy our vehicles new then use them until they totally conk out.
The commuter car Mr.LB is driving has about 327,000 miles on it.
The old wood pick-up has nearly 400,000 miles on it.
There is an old saying~
"If you take care of your things, you'll always have something to take care of."
We live in such a disposable world and have been really well trained
into the "I want what I want, and I want it now," mentality.
If we are only patient and are willing to hold out for delayed gratification,
we might find we are able to save significantly.
If you're at all like me,
the fact that I don't ever have to think about it again is golden.
(Or at least for a very long time.)
And in addition, it results in a much more sustainable way of living.
What's on your list?

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Mystery Squash Results

A couple posts back I showed you a mystery squash that we purchased for $3.
You can see that post here.
Here's the picture of it.
It's huge!
After some input from you kind folks,
we figured it was a cushaw - or close.
Upon research (because that's just what I do) I learned that the cushaw is referred to as the sweet potato pumpkin.
That concerned me just a little 
as I'm not fond of either sweet potatoes or pumpkin.
This evening, I finally decided to break into that big boy.
The shell / rind is tough as nails.
Just getting the neck portion cut off was a workout.
The meat however is tender.
The fragrance smelled like watermelon to me which actually worried me a little.
I was preparing myself for something ultra sweet.
The first small batch, I had sliced about 3/8" thick and dipped in milk 
then shredded Parmesan.
I fried those in some of our home rendered bear lard.
Man oh man!  It was delicious!
The second batch, I didn't even bother with the milk or cheese.
Just a sprinkling of salt and we gobbled them up.
It does have a slight sweet potato flavor but not the overwhelming flavor 
of regular sweet potatoes.
It is/was almost like a cross between a potato and sweet potato.
We will probably be eating on this cushaw for about two weeks!
The next thing I did was clean out the "belly."
The seeds are even huge - and a ton of them.
I am saving some to try to grow, but I will roast the rest of them.
As much food as we are getting from this one squash,
I can't believe I've never heard of them.
Also, I can't believe they are not more widely promoted as 
a cost effective way to eat or feed a family.
They store easily though from what I've read 
not as long as some other winter squashes.
These store up to 4 months.
So far, the only thing that is a bit of a deterrent 
is how difficult it is to break into.
I am making arrangements to get a couple more.
So all of this from someone who's not a squash fan.
I can't tell you how thrilled I am with the discovery of this mystery squash.
And healthy to boot!

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Setting Up For Winter

We live different in winter than we do in summer as do many folks.
This means there are changes around that help accommodate winter life.
We can no longer hang clothes outside on the line.
Before I hear that I can hang clothes in snow,
let me share that pine trees rain sap and needles,
and the wind blows branches, leaves, and debris 
rendering clothes less than clean.
It's not a huge deal ~ I just do this.
If clothes drip, it's in the tub.  No biggy.
Also, I've pulled the last of the annual veggies, saving the green tomatoes 
to ripen inside.
This is the "in process" picture.
We are raking leaves and using them for compost of course,
but also as insulation around the base of tender vining plants that in milder climes have no problems.
We have plenty more yet to fall.
We've finally gathered enough wood for winter.
It's not entirely split, but it's here and that's the tough part.
The rest is making sure chimneys are clean, heater filters clean, lawn mower serviced, tools in good repair, etc.
It's the tidying of the corners and little things that will make hauling firewood,
shoveling snow, and getting around easier come winter.
We try to think ahead, but there's always something we forget or don't think of.
I guess that's how we come up with our to-do list for next year.
Some time back, I posted an autumn checklist.
You can find it here.
Now I better go coil the hoses.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Blog "Monitoring" ???

Hi Folks.
Just want to let you know I'm not ignoring you.

This is a screen shot of my blog views for the past couple days.
Have any of you with blogs had this happen?
Perhaps I shouldn't worry, but I don't like it.
It's right at every 6 hours.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Working Kitchen

Years ago, I was visiting with a friend about how some folks decorate kitchens.
She told me that hers was a "working kitchen."
I've always remembered that.
And I've evidently followed suit.
I don't really decorate the kitchen.
I don't do themes anyways, and I like things that are useful.
Maybe I don't decorate because at any given time,
you can almost tell what the season is
by what my kitchen looks like.
(See the entirety of my decorating~ the oil can with flowers and pumpkin.)
Right now,
it's rather easy to detect autumn 
by the bucket of spuds, collection of winter squash, the miscellaneous hunting gear, and tailings of canning tomatoes.
It's been slim-pickins for hunting season this year.
Between last winter and wolves (and cats and bear,) the game has suffered.
We even stayed a night up on top 
to see if being up high at dawn would show us anything.
We got snowed on during the night - yowza!
Not ready for that yet.
Anyways, on the way home, I asked Mr.LB if he would mind if we stopped at a little produce stand that's on the way.
It's quite a ways from anywhere, and I like to support such folks if I can.
We did and what a bounty~
For $28 we got: 2 huge spaghetti squash, 1 huge mystery squash,
3-4 lbs. plums, 17-20 lbs. of tomatoes, 5 lbs. red spuds, 1/2 gallon of fresh apple cider, and a peanut-butter cookie for me (yum.)
I went up for a hunt this morning and made it back many vertical feet later
about 12:30 and went to work on the tomatoes.
They are now sauce and cooling in jars on the counter, 
and there is a spaghetti squash in the oven. 
I saved some seeds - hoping to grow some of these biggies myself next year.
Those seeds are in a bowl on the table to dry.
The kitchen is where we seem to congregate when there's company.
Some of my fondest memories growing up are of peeling spuds or cleaning string beans with extended family in the kitchen.
I think that's something that's missing in many families today.
There really is a role for everybody.
The older folks can still chop walnuts and show the little ones how it's done.
You've probably gathered by now that we live along old-fashioned lines.
Years ago, a significant amount of ones time was devoted
to the growing, gathering, and preserving of food not only for the family
but for any livestock as well.
The value of working with your grandparents or great aunts and uncles rather than just seeing them at parties or holidays is unmeasurable.
We use our kitchen.
And if you happen to stop by about meal time, 
you'll of course be welcomed to join us, 
but don't be surprised if you are asked to chop carrots or slice tomatoes. 
You see, it really is a "working kitchen"
and that's all the decor we need.

If anybody knows what kind of squash the mystery squash is,
please do tell.

Monday, October 2, 2017


That's my word of the year.
Have you ever heard of that?
At the beginning of the year, you choose a word 
to reflect your primary aspiration.
At the beginning of this year, I felt as though I had spent the past two years in "Remember."
I lost two very special people who were like grandparents to me 
within a year of each other.
I didn't want to loose or forget their influence in my life.
Now, I felt I needed to look forward rather than backward.
Not only did I want to look forward, 
but I wanted to move in a positive direction.
That kinda forced me to ask myself some tough questions:
"What am I after?"
"What do we want our lives to look like?"
That's pretty deep, personal, and specific to our beliefs and values.
I say "we/our" because MrLB and I are in this together after all. 
What happened when I asked myself these questions is amazing really.
Spending a little time in my own head and heart
offered an element of clarity.
In my mind's eye, I envisioned our lives, circumstances, and surroundings.
Maybe what was most astonishing was what wasn't in the picture.
We weren't loaded down with debt, obligations, or physical "stuff."
It looked so clean, not just clean like when you sweep the floor.
It was more like peering through a really dirty window vs. a very clean one.
I was in awe of my own vision.
The thing is, this wasn't fiction - not like those dreams where you can fly 
or do some super-human feat.
It was just clarity~
and letting go of what wasn't helping or didn't belong.
Now let me tell you a little something about myself.
My knee-jerk comfort zone is scarcity 
or fear of not having or not being able to provide.
It comes from years of training.
I could look around and see the result of that mindset.
This year has been "transitional" for us - in a good way.
There is a learning curve to this Life thing.
Way back here I made the grandiose plan to spend zero.
Then here I shared my first failure.
And since then, I have failed more times than I can count.
But what I learned is that it wasn't the right goal.
Perhaps a wiser statement would have been
"only spend money on items I will use."
That would have been closer at least.
An example~
This step stool I found as I walked in with a bag to donate - eerrrrg!
It was $12.
I could beat myself up for spending the money, but I use it almost daily 
in the pantry to reach the upper shelves.
It's not something I could run out and buy 
when I decided I was ready to purchase it.
Maybe that's partially what's meant by seizing the opportunity.
Granted, not all of my spending has been on such useful items
-just a matter of full disclosure there.-
Buuuut. . . . . 
I am mindful, and we are still making really good progress.
We've done some major decluttering 
to remove much of the physical stuff that just took up space.
That post was relatively recent so I won't expand on it much here 
except to say, "It's so nice to have clear spaces."
And the fun bit is that people have paid us to haul it off 
which is how I prefer to look at it.
And lastly, we haven't really committed 
to any extracurricular activities or events.
That's not saying we haven't done anything,
just that we haven't formally committed to things and have operated from more of an "act of kindness" mindset or "pay it forward" maybe.
Whatever the words?
For some reason saying that or seeing it in print seems sorta selfish,
but it's really working for us right now.
We both work full time so our home time is rather sacred.
(Maybe more folks need that?)
The year isn't over and we could certainly derail at any given moment 
- just as any of us could.
We are as busy as ever~
still need more firewood before winter sets in,
middle of various hunting seasons,
preserving harvest, and
we still have a couple of large expenses ahead of us
including property taxes and beef.
So you see, our year isn't taken care of yet.
That's where that 'Focus' comes in.
It's the word whispered in self-talk.
Keeping that vision not only in vision but in 'Focus' as well is essential.
I've not even thought about next year.
Right now, what's important is Right Now, 
and staying 'Focused.'
I realize this is more of a serious post, but life isn't always candy and roses.
There are real decisions to make everyday.
And it's those everyday decisions that take us where we're going
whether it's in a good direction or not.
So today is all about today.
And that's a good thing.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Quick Tip ~ Tomatoes

Growing up, I was taught that to ripen tomatoes,
 they should be in a cool dark place on paper bags and not be touching.
Get all that?
That's what I was taught, and that's what I've always done.
So when I had romas that needed to finish ripening,
I went to see what I could find in the way of paper.
Back in the day, groceries were bagged in paper bags, but alas.
I had these egg crates from buying a couple flats of eggs a while back.
They work superbly and are easier to maneuver.
Obviously, romas or paste tomatoes with their elongated shape fit best,
but it would work with any of the smaller varieties.

We are in the middle of canning tomatoes, drying apples, and hunting season.
More soon~

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Another Forgotten Old Skill ~ Blacksmithing

Well Folks, 
I am just not quite sure where to begin this tale.
It's a young but quick journey and far from over.
If I hop around a bit, please forgive me.
When serendipity is at play,
things seem to appear out of thin air.
If you've been around for a while, you might recall that 
Mr. LB is a metal fabricator by trade.  
If you are new to the blog or just happened by, now you know.
He regularly uses the Fibonacci sequence and the Pythagorean Theorem 
when building railings, staircases, ramps, etc. - for those teenagers who ask when they will ever use it.
He loves what he does so there is already an interest in "playing" with metal.
Back in June, we attended Flora Pioneer School Day.
That was actually my idea.
I thought it would be interesting and I liked the cause.  I'm all for preservation of old buildings - especially in rural communities.
As stated in the post, he spent the majority of the day with the blacksmith and ended up making a steak turner.
He was hooked!
As it turned out, my mom had a forge in her yard holding a pot of petunias.
She offered to move her posies so he could have the forge.
The blower was seized, but he was able to take it apart and clean and oil it
so now it works.
He was using an old piece of railroad track that was in the shop as his anvil.
I found an anvil (a few at one place) about four hours away.
Mr. LB and his boss made a special trip only to find out it was a scam.
My heart sank for him so I did a quick Craigslist search for that area and found another source.  They went and looked at it, but it was shot.
The guy selling it knew nothing about anvils/metal so was at least honest in his communication.  When Mr. LB thanked him but said he'd pass, the guy said,
"You don't want a vice do you?"
He also had a post leg vice in good condition and was asking a reasonable-fair price so it was a sale.  At least after that much travel he didn't come home empty handed.  
An evening or so later, we were chatting with a neighbor and sharing the story.
He said, "Well, I've got an anvil that was given to me if you want it."
It's about 75 lbs. so is small, but got him started. 
The very next week, again on Craigslist, 
I found an ad for misc. blacksmithing tools.
There was a picture of a table with various tongs and tools on it, but it was a bit difficult to make out.
I called, and it was an elderly man who thought he might want to get into blacksmithing one day but never had.
I asked him how much for the whole table.
He chuckled and said he hadn't really thought about it all together.
He thought for a moment then stated a price that was extremely reasonable.
I had Mr. LB call and make arrangements.
He made the drive (about 2.5 hrs. away) after work as 
they were to be in a yard sale the following day if not sold.
Included was an amazing drill press.
With the basic tools, he was off and running.
He has been working on making some of his own tools.
He began with his fire tools - each has a different handle so he can tell by feel when he's grabbing for them.
He then moved on to a pair of tongs.
Then came a fun day.
Recognize that fella? Yep, that's the blacksmith from Flora (Nathan from Rusty Hammer Forge - Facebook.)  He and his family have actually become friends.
He and Mr.LB joke that they each have an ulterior motive to the friendship - metallurgy and functions of one and blacksmithing and design of the other.
For the visit shown, I had found a big hunk of metal while sorting in the shop.
It was enough for 2 hammers.

It began in a cylindrical shape and ended up as a straight peen hammer.  He loves it!
Oops ~ well we had to eat!
It seems very natural and "right" for him to take on blacksmithing.
He fishes and rides motorcycles (dirt-bike) and skis, but this is something that he can do at home and even if he only has an hour or two.
He happened into it, but I guess it has become popular due to a TV show.
(We don't even own a TV.)
From what we hear, it focuses on knife-making.
Mr. LB might make a knife at some point, but what he wants to make is a bucket.  Yes, you read that right.  Kinda like this.
Remember this load of wood?  That's the project in mind.
Again, he likes the math and science of it to go along with the skill.
You would be surprised at what goes into making those rings fit snugly at angles and a comfortable handle.
And lastly, a couple weeks ago now, he was informed of some larger, nice anvils for sale.  He looked, but financially, it's been "a little tight" due to several factors - large expensive factors.
It was several nights later when we were sitting in the evening.  I looked over at him and said "Whatchya thinkin' 'bout?"
His response was, "A 300 pound hunk of metal."
It took me a few days and some working things around, but long story short,
he got his anvil.  It's a KingFisher built in 1918 and weighs 364? pounds.
That's one heck of a paperweight.
He is out there pounding on metal as I type this, and he's in seventh heaven.
In looking at various antiques, it's amazing how many have hand forged components.  We both appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of old items that have lasted a century.  I have a feeling there are many projects yet to come from this skill.

Just as a note~ In making the first hammer, they used a type of charcoal that wasn't the best quality which made it difficult to get the mass of metal up to the proper temperature.  The very top photo was when they were working on the second hammer.  The charcoal they were using was a much better quality. The metal heated quicker and seemed to hold the heat better as they were working it.  The better quality charcoal also produced less ash in the forge.