Great weekend of work on the farm!

We’ve been continuing the work on the 12’x21′ shed/cabin/sewing studio. It gets 3 names because that’s the order that it will be used.

I finally got the rest of the floor framed. I put the floor joists at 12″ centers to make things a little beefier. I was able to finish that just before dark on Saturday. That was really the only plan for the weekend, but since I got it done in a day I decided to make the 45 minute drive back to Lowe’s for the sub floor decking. It gets dark around 5:30 and Lowe’s doesn’t close until 9 so the trip wasn’t too bad. Although after loading 2x6s into the truck, dragging them out, framing the floor, and then loading 8 sheets of 3/4 inch chip board, I was pretty tired. So that made the fact that the generator was able to run all night due to the auxiliary fuel tank was a blessing. Heat all night and coffee maker in the morning without having to refuel. If you are using a Honda EU2000 generator, I would highly suggest the BERG system add on fuel tank. Super nice.

This is it framed out, pay attention to the orange dots in the surrounding dirt, it will come up later in this post.

All sheeted and covered with a tarp until I can start framing the walls, a ton of work to drag those sheets of chip board out of the truck.

Now, for those orange marks. I had marked all of the stumps in the area with pavement marking paint so I could find them later. As I was framing and sheeting the floor I had to continually walk back and forth from the truck to work site, about 20 yards. All while carrying heavy, awkward boards and sub floor. Needless to say I tripped over stump after stump on each trip. This was beyond aggravating. By mid day Sunday I was completely done with the floor so I hopped on Darla Deere the tractor, hooked up the single row plow and went bat shit crazy on the stumps. I was hooking and hopping on the tractor. Working the clutch and the hydraulics like a madman. Poor Darla was on 2 wheels more than she was on 4. It can be very dangerous to pull stumps this way and I don’t recommend it. The tractor can quickly flip over on you if you aren’t quick on the clutch, luckily I am. I was able to tear out about 20 of them Sunday afternoon.

Then I changed implements to the cultivator rake and raked out all of the roots and stump pieces. Then another change to the grader blade to smooth it all out.

Remember the orange marks? Nearly all gone! And I only broke 1 shear bolt in the plow! Now, all of this was a great weekend of work, I drove a ton of nails, and more deck screws than I can count. I got it done, but I AM SORE!

It’s a good sore though, a satisfying soreness that I know that our homestead is coming around.

We hope you all have a great week!


Stupid broken tools!!!

Been quite a day in the forge today. I finished up the anvils stands for my students, finished the handles and polished two knives I had for a custom order, and worked on a fabulous order of 19 bar tap handles made from railroad spikes. An Irish pub in Quebec ordered them for their bar.

I’ve made these for years and don’t normally cause me a problem. They wanted them personalized, which I happily do, each with 9 letters, I twisted each one, and drilled an inch into the ends of each one. Then the trouble began.

I tap threads into those holes so that the handle screws onto the bar tap. I hand thread them with an Irwin brand tap. Normally, Irwin taps are good quality and work well, not this time. I have one old one that has dulled over time, so I bought 3 new ones today. I figured that these would keep me going for quite a while. NOPE

I proceeded to break all 3 of them! (Insert prolific Marine swearing) Once they break, buried in the hole of course, you can’t drill them back out because of the hardness of the steel in the tap. So, those three handles that I made with 9 letters stamped in each were junk. For the remaining ones I went back to the old thread tap and fought through. I gave up for the evening knowing that I have to remake three of these. It’s the nature of metal work, some times things just break. I hope that Irwin hasn’t changed the way they make taps and this was only a fluke.

The knives came out great though, so at least it wasn’t a totally crappy day.

First Blacksmithing class is fast approaching! December 9 will be the first, remember, if you are ever near Wilmington North Carolina and would be interested in a 4 hour basic class, let us know!

All the best,


Homestead work continues..

As tiring as it is, there is a huge satisfaction in being as busy as we are. With the first blacksmithing class to be taught fast approaching we still have other work to do.

This weekend we drove up to the land to swap trucks and go get some lumber to begin building the shed that will eventually become Maria’s sewing cabin. We swapped trucks because the one I have been driving is the ’97 4×4. When we bought it the odometer had stopped working at 252000 miles. It has taken that 7hour round trip to Virginia many times since so there is no telling how many miles are actually on it. It still runs good, but the transmission seems to be getting a little weak, it just doesn’t seem to have the pep on the highway like it used to. Plus, it only has a 6 foot bed and we needed to buy 12 foot boards. The ’04 is two wheel drive, but it is sporting the 5.4 litre triton v8 and it’s got a regular 8 foot bed. We have to keep one parked at the farm all the time because we lack the space in town, hence the swap.

So, my initial calculations for purchasing lumber was way off. Either that or the prices are much different in Virginia. I had planned on about $250 to $300 for half of the floor framing. Wrong…$124. Better to mis-calculate in that direction.

I began framing and getting things level as Maria had to return to town.

Then as you can see it was getting dark quick. So I shut things down and prepared for a cold night in the camper.

It got down to 22 degrees Fahrenheit Saturday night. I have an electric space heater, but unfortunately the generator can’t run all night. So about 1 am the generator ran out of gas and things got chilly. I have a really good sleeping bag from the military and it served its purpose. Its the same model I used when I went to Norway with the Marine Corps. It got down to 50 to 80 below on that deployment, so 22 was nothing. I will ,however, be ordering the auxiliary fuel tank for our little generator that increases the run time by about 12 -18 hours. A little extra comfort can’t hurt.

So after a frosty wake up, I continued to frame. It was then that I realized that I had left the entire box of 10 penny nails for the hangars back at the house, 3.5 hours away. I started googling hardware stores that were open on Sunday. Not many at all, I can tell you. I did figure out that nearly everything we need is about 20 miles away in one direction or another. I felt like George Clooney in O’ Brother Where Art Thou…a true geographical oddity.

So luckily there was a Tractor Supply within that range, so I beat feet up and got some nails. So finally here is half the sewing cabin floor framed out.

With much more to come, Maria and I hope that you all have a glorious week.


Blacksmith school nearly ready..

I have decided after some universal pushing to go ahead with teaching the skills that I have been blessed with.

After contemplating it and putting out some really short feelers, I have 4 students lined up already. I’m only going to start with 2 at a time for now until I can acquire more equipment.

We did order 2 new 70 pound “Big Face” anvils from NC Tool Company. I am in no way affiliated with them (other than being a VERY satisfied customer), but if you are looking for blacksmithing, or farrior tools then they are the go to. I now have 3 anvils, and one gas forge from them. Their prices are very reasonable, including shipping believe it or not, and the tools are top notch.

This afternoon I built a stand for one of the anvils and I’ll build the other one when I get back from the farm this weekend.

I am starting new students off with a 4 hour, beginning course that covers:

1. Shop safety

2. Tool identification/ use

3. Square stock tapering

4. Scrolling

5. Twisting

At the end of the 4 hours they will be hot, sweaty, and tired. But they will also understand the value of working with your hands. They will also get to take that project home that THEY made.

This “S” hook is the project I felt would appeal to the average student and still give them a good beginning taste of the trade.

I have come up with follow up courses for more advanced techniques, and I will offer those only to those that have taken the introductory course, or show proof that they have had training elsewhere.

Two of the four students I have lined up have indicated that they are interested in participating in long term apprenticeships. That will be discussed after they sweat for the first 4 hours, lol.

So….if you have plans on being in the Southeastern North Carolina area and want to simply check off an item on your bucket list, or you want to start a new hobby or trade, shoot us an e-mail at

The first class is scheduled for December 9th and is booked, but after that I plan on holding them on alternating Saturdays and Wednesdays after that. More dates may be added if the demand is there.

Pricing, for now stands at $100 for the 4 hour class. All materials, tools, and safety equipment will be provided. All you have to bring is a good attitude, and appropriate clothing.

I should have a ton of photos and good stories to tell after that first class, so stay

As far as the farm goes, this weekend’s plan is to frame out the floor of the shed. First building starting!!!! I’m super excited about that.

My lovely Maria and I hope that you all have a beautiful weekend.