July 28, 2019 This month has been a busy and interesting one here at Friendly Forest. Preparations for the 263 Art Studio Tour took more time than I usually anticipate, but the two days were a good experience for me and I hope that the many visitors to Friendly Forest also had a good experience. At one point on Sunday afternoon of the Tour, I noted that things were rather loud in the house, but that there was a lot of laughter, happy conversation and generally a good and positive tone to it all. What a contrast to the atmosphere at a commercial retail location in the city!
While not too many actually ate some of the Pecan pie with whipped cream that we offered as a small treat to our guests, the offer and the invitation to sit at the table for coffee or juice or pie seemed to be appreciated as part of the total atmosphere of welcome that I want Friendly Forest to be known for.
As a reader of this page may recall, the beaver population in the pond at Friendly Forest, has long since moved their tree-hunting territory well outside of the usual perimeter around the pond, and have been taking trees down well into the area of my yard and toward my shop. Even the wire dress defenses I have employed as protection for the most significant trees, the beaver have taken down many. In addition to losing valued trees, I have come to fear for safety of my home and of property and people; a partially chewed tree can come down in the wind and drop on an unsuspecting person or parked vehicle... or, as has happened several times, a tree that should have been safe, is taken down and crashes onto the house.
The desperate search for aspen trees that marked the frenzy late last fall has resumed this spring, signaling that their available supply of trees is less than what they require. The latest casualties were four young aspen located within four feet of the house ... taken in mid afternoon when the beaver should be resting and waiting for their usual nocturnal activities.
When I went to pay my municipal taxes last week I inquired if there was help available to me to deal with this serious issue. I was put in contact with a professional licensed trapper who came late in the week. I was very sad about the decision I had made, and the death of beaver for simply being beavers, troubles my green heart and spirit. And yet, as the current steward of this forest space, I did not see any other responsible choice. While the "solution" might be only temporary, new beaver may move in shortly and the cycle will begin again. In years past another local trapper had promised to come to harvest the beaver, he never came. With the world wide anti-fur movement, and the removal of wolves who are the main natural predator on beaver, there is no market value to a beaver pelt or to beaver meat, and so the populations have ballooned. The result has been expensive and damaging flooding of municipal roads and crop lands and the destruction of prized tree growths. Most Canadians do not understand the significance of the fact that beaver are the only animal, other than man, which can change an ecosystem.
All that rationalization being stated, I am still greatly saddened by the decision that I made. I have made a tobacco offering and sent prayers to Creator and the spirits of the beaver, hoping that they suffered little and have found a peace with the source of their spirit and life ... the place where all mortals return at the end of our time.
July 4, 2019 A few special events are rapidly closing in and I will need to scramble to meet some deadlines.
I have acknowledged to myself that I have no more time to start new projects in the shop in the hope that they might be finished before our July 20, 21 263 Art Studio Tour (click on logo above for details)
I have had a few days of very enjoyable visiting with a friend who also happens to be a computer tech guy, and we discussed my website ... yes the one you are on right now. I have long realized that the site had grown in various directions and there were elements that should be updated, and that the whole site could use a face-lift or reorganization. That was always going to be a "winter project" that never seemed to get done.
From my discussions with my tech friend, I particularly realized that most web visitors today are on a smart phone or a tablet, not on a lap top or even a desk top.
When I first started designing the site the standard screen size was 600 X 800 pixels. Also I was still on a phone line modem that was VERY slow to load files. Because large size image files and Flash features on the site were sure to slow down the functioning of the site, I tried to avoid those issues in my design. By going for thumbnail images that were still large enough to convey the subject matter I allowed the visitor to decide if they wanted to wait for a larger image to load for better viewing. Instead of Flash features I resorted to "hotspots" for hyperlinks. Because of the different ways the different Browsers rendered fonts and page arrangements, I converted a lot of pages that I had started using "frames" and switched them to be "table" based page structures. Yes, that limited the design possibilities, but I think I created a more user-friendly site.
Today however, a smart phone or tablet allows the user to determine whether they view a site in landscape or portrait orientation. With a finger-swipe, the user can shrink or expand an image or page, but with smaller screen size, text that was comfortable to read on a lap top or desk top screen, can be too small for many eyes to see without making the effort to magnify the page.
A few days ago I started the make-over by creating a new set of graphic headings that would visually tie together the navigation links across most of the web site. I used the Logoist app to create a unique appearance for the headers.
I decided to add another level of site organization by grouping web pages into new sections that started with a clean, simplified menu page. I decided against drop-down menus as those are still Flash elements and are often visually too small for easy viewing on small screens.
I have started with the macro changes and then will proceed by re-organizing the individual content pages.
In the past a few people who did comment on the site were encouraging me to make it a selling platform by creating a catalogue and purchase features. I have resisted doing that because my products are not mass produced and what I feature on my Product Galleries ... are "art pieces" that are shown for appreciation or further discussion with an interested visitor. If a visitor is seeking to be a "customer" as well, the Product Galleries can serve as a starting point about what they are looking for and whether or not I am able to meet their requirements for a special wood item.
I do "sell" to site visitors if I have what they are seeking, either as a direct person-to-person sale,or a remote sale with deliver by parcel post. I show my work and offer it for sale through visits to my home and shop or at the Art Studio Tour open-house that we have been hosting once a year. Some "customers" are people who drive along the Highway and see my sign and just drop in to see what Friendly Forest is all about.
I always invite comments about the web site and about my work ... my work in general or about specific pieces that you may have found on the site. Like most woodworkers I am usually quite eager to talk about wood and woodworking with other interested persons. Discussions about other elements featured on the website are also welcomed. I have tried to feature what I think is important about this place I call "Friendly Forest", and the personal and spiritual journey this place has invited me to be part of.
May 28, 2019 I have finally progressed with my new wood work so that I was able to photograph them and post to Gallery 1.
After a few warmer days the Saskatoon and Pincherry shrubs are in blossom while the apple trees are just about ready to open. I hope to see a few more pollinating insects than thus far ... it has been quite cold and not suitable for them.
The Canada Goose pair that nested on the beaver lodge had a successful hatch of four goslings... All seem to be well so far and I trust the parents to keep them safe. The ducks seem to be later with nests filling with eggs just now and then a 4 week brood period still ahead.
May 12, 2019 While I was neglecting this page Spring has finally come to this land. This morning I was able to watch numerous pairs of ducks flying around and swimming on the pond. Since they are still appearing as pairs I assume they have not yet started nesting. At the same time the Canada Geese pair that successfully defended the nesting spot on the beaver lodge, have started to brood their eggs nearly two weeks ago. This time the goose selected a spot just a few feet down from the top of the lodge and on the side facing the house so I can watch things easily. She simply seems to have found a spot supported by one of the logs the beaver had dragged onto the top of the lodge. I always wonder that their eggs do not roll down into the water when they move around.
The abundance of the other water fowl suggests a shortage of other suitable bodies of water near by as well as a likely safer nesting space. If there are lots of coyotes, fox or raccoons around not too many nests succeed. Later I can expect the ravens to come hunting. They may not know exactly where a nest is, but they fly around the grassy areas around the pond squeaking in their raucous manner trying to cause the nesting parent to move and so be detected. Then they come back to chase the mother duck off the nest and feast on the eggs. Even when a hatch is successful and they make it to the water, I have seen ravens hunting ducklings off the surface of the water like an eagle would. Nature provides many hazards to these birds.
I have not seen sign of raccoons yet this spring. When there is a racoon there will likely be no successful nestings on land. That varmint is incredibly efficient and leaves no survivors. Some years the only water birds to nest successfully were the grebes who have a floating nest out in the water, anchored to an emerging shrub.
On Easter Sunday I was able to host friends and neighbours to an Easter Sunday brunch ... pot-luck style. I proposed a menu list and asked those coming to bring what they wanted to make. We ended up with 20 at table and the food was just great. Thank you for helping me celebrate that day. I also enjoyed the left-over food you packed into my fridge.
Once Easter was past I started to do some work in the shop. The weather turned miserable for the past few weeks so I used my daily activity quota out there. I am now waiting on warm weather so I can do some of the finishing work outside so I do not have to deal with varnish and lacquer fumes indoors. I will post images once that is done.
Earlier this year I was working on my Simply Accounting business program, making entries for the past year etc. As I was doing that I made a journal entry that reversed the credit / debit column. I spotted it when I called up a report and the errant entry stood out. So I went back and did a reverse journal entry ... or so I thought. Instead I made the same mistake I had done earlier. It took me a third time to make the correction as needed. Maybe it was the effect of the Gabapentin that I need to take, but that shook my confidence in what I was doing. I know that I am prone to doing reversals as part of my dyslexia, but usually I correct things without making things worse. As a result this year I submitted my tax work to an accountant and let them file my tax returns. I just handed over my paper records and my laptop that I use for my accounting program and gave them the required passwords. It cost me some money but saved a lot of anxiety. I do not like to mess up my accounts.
One of the things that complicated things for me was that I was removing old or defective products from my inventory. Items that I had relegated to boxes in corners as never likely to be sold ended up heating my shop during the cold days. It was a shame. When I made those items I was proud of them but now know that they have no commercial value. What something is worth is what someone else is willing to pay for it ... on the business end of things. It does not matter how much I might like it, or even how much someone else likes it, if I cannot find a good selling price, it has no commercial value. It is much harder to have that cold attitude about your own creative work than it would about an item you are simply merchandising. Ah well, the things I like now may also end up that way.
March 24, 2019 Planning for our 263 Art Studio Tour for 2019 is underway. We are still open to receiving new members for the Tour. I have been updating the web site but we still need some confirmations before we can create the new Tour Brochure and the Maps to the different site locations.
Click on our logo to go to the web site:
The images I had posted at the end of 2018 were a reasonable depiction of what was happening here at Friendly forest and for most of Saskatchewan ... cold weather followed by very cold weather followed by cold weather ....
Even as the Sun returned to our northern skies we knew that there would have to be a break at some time, and that sometime seemed to have happened two weeks ago. Even though we have returned to colder temperatures there has been considerable melting of the snow that was here since last October.
I did no serious shop work for the three months as it was not worth the effort to heat that space and I had no pressing custom requests.
I am looking forward to spending more time out there soon and will enjoy as much as my persistent back injury will permit.
I have been learning what I can and what I should not attempt. I am also slowly dealing with my doctor's advice to lean how to manage things as the injury is not likely to resolve or things get better. That is a hard thing to consider after so many years of having a very fit and strong body that seemed ready to undertake nearly everything I asked it to do. The double hernia that i got about 4 years ago should have been a good warning to slow things down . Once that issue had been resolved by surgery and time for healing, I was once more feeling great and competent.
When I renewed my handicapped parking permit the other day it was not for the one year time span as before, but for at least three years. That too reflects the doctor's assessment of what I can expect. I am most impressed and grateful to the Saskatchewan Abilities Council not only for managing that program, but also for their assistance to me in providing me with a good wheelchair and walker . These are at no cost to me for as long as I need them, and then they return to the Council for re-use. I asked the manager what rate of eventual return they had on their equipment. He guessed that it was well up in the 90 percent range. That statistic was also impressive.
December 31 2018 Signing off for the year 2018, I decided to post a few of the images I captured with my camera during the month of December. We had many grey days as the Sun continued to visit the Souhern Hemisphere before its Post-Solstice return to this land. Some of those days and nights were with fog and the resulting hoar frost on everything.
There were also a few days, like today, when the Sun did look through our skies at the land it will soon re-visit and the white of a frost-covered forest is framed against a blue sky. It is when one compares the blue skies of this time of year with those of mid summer that one realizes just how much yellow light there is as the low-angled sun light is filtered by the atmosphere. These images were taken close to noon.
A few large aspen that have still survived the beaver attacks
To the North end of the pond
A bit further right of the image above. Note the long shadows from the trees on the South end of the pond.
To the North-East
Near the South East edge of the pond
Zooming in with the camera lense
Zooming out with the camera lens; taken off the edge of the deck
On a dark Saturday morning; the local moose shows itself along the inside of the pond
It pauses for a moment before ramming more of the dead tree trunks and then ambling off into the forest where some suitable browse could be found.