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Peeling Bark with Friends

by Tara

When I was little, one of my favorite books was A New Coat for Anna, in which a young girl and her mother spent an entire year getting all of the components ready for her new winter coat. First they visited the shepherd and his flock, bartering for wool from the year's shearing. After that, they traded to get the wool carded and spun into yarn, making friends with a spinner in the process.

After Anna and her mother dyed the wool themselves using lingonberries, they struck another deal, this time with a weaver who wove the crimson yarn into cloth. Finally, the mother and daughter bartered and made friends with a tailor who created the final garment for Anna, just in time for winter. The story ends with a party, to which the shepherd, the spinner, the weaver, and the tailor are all invited.

I love this story, and right now, I feel like I am in it: we're surrounded by wonderful people supporting and helping us in preparation for this workshop we're putting on. At this point, the favors we've received for the project are almost uncountable.

In the last week alone, our friend Greer lent us tables and and tablecloths for our outdoor kitchen, someone we barely know from Shaftsbury lent us a canopy (thanks Mitch!), Rick loaned us his collection of hand tools (among other things!), and our new friend Rob (who built a strawbale/timber-frame house with his wife, Karen) lent us a second pair of drawknives.

Drawknives Waiting to be Sharpened

Today was a big day, as we needed to get as many of our primary timbers debarked as possible in preparation for our class. Everyone arrives tomorrow! With Tyler's bum chest and my bum finger, we knew we were going to need some help. So, we put out some feelers, asking a few friends if they'd come over and help this weekend, unsure if anyone would actually show up.

This morning, we began bright and early, and were utterly delighted when our neighbor Jeremy sauntered up our driveway with his dog, Roscoe. Just having him around, with his huge boyish smile, enthusiasm, and many stories, cheered us significantly. Not to mention his de-barking skills—our productivity increased by leaps and bounds when he arrived!

Jeremy Stripping Timber Frame Tie Beam Bark

A little while later, our friends Joanna and Greg (regulars at Cold Antler Farm Game Night) dropped in to help, too. Today was their first visit to our homestead—hooray! After a brief tour of our land, they took up drawknives and began peeling bark as well. With five people hard at work on our project, the rate of progress was phenomenal. Better than that though, was how much fun we were having with our friends!

Joanna Stripping Timber Frame Post Bark Greg Stripping Timber Frame Wall Plate Bark

Around midday, Tyler left to pick up some pizza and beer for our growing crew. When I heard someone pulling up the driveway shortly after, I assumed it was him returning, but it was Mike, a local farmer, and his two boys, Sean and Lorenzo, here to help. We only just met Mike last night! We'd casually mentioned our project, and here he was to help, offering free farm-fresh eggs and garlic to boot! I was surprised, and very touched.

Mike Stripping Timber Frame Tie Beam Bark

By the time everyone parted ways this afternoon, all of the important logs were stripped and ready for our class. This is a feat Tyler and I could never have accomplished by ourselves in such a short amount of time. Right now, I am blown away by the generosity of our new community of friends. I feel so lucky to have so many fantastic people around us!

To Jeremy, Joanna, Greg, Mike, and all the folks who have helped us so far, thank you, thank you, thank you!



Those timbers are gorgeous! I wish I'd come across your blog months instead of weeks ago, as I can't break free from work to attend the class on short notice. I've done a bit of timber framing (a woodshed), but with dimensional lumber rather than felled timber; if you guys ever host another class, I'll be there. Good luck with everything!
Posted by Kevin on August 11th, 2013 at 7:47 AM
I hope that your class goes fantastic!! I can't wait to read about it and see the pictures!!
Posted by Cori on August 11th, 2013 at 11:02 AM
That's fantastic that so many people came to help. I think awesome peeps(that's you guys) just attract other awesome people. So excited to see the finished product. I know it's going to be beautiful!!!
Posted by Natasha on August 11th, 2013 at 7:03 PM
Good luck with the course! Wishing you all plenty of cool, sunny weather and much energy.
Posted by SavvyChristine on August 12th, 2013 at 6:53 AM
I can't speak for the rest of your fan club, but I have to say that I'm dying to see the results, and the blow by blow, of your workshop. I'm breathless with anticipation! I know there will be triumphs and tears, victories and defeats, and honest reporting of all the challenges you faced. Can't wait!
Posted by Nancy Kane on August 19th, 2013 at 5:16 PM
Like Nancy, I too can't wait to see the results. I'm really looking forward to hearing about the ups and downs of which I'm sure there have been many!
Posted by Sim on August 20th, 2013 at 7:49 AM
It's really neat to hear how excited everyone is to see our results! Unfortunately, it might be a week or more before we can publish them. My laptop is on the fritz and I can't get it in for repairs until Thursday :(
Posted by Tyler on August 20th, 2013 at 8:15 AM
About 3 weeks ago I stumbled across your journal whilst researching bike trips. I have spent these past few weeks reading every entry and now I find I'm 'up to date'. You guys rock! I'm currently looking to purchase some land and build me a 'little' house, after my bike tour of course. Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for the vicarious travel, you've definitely whetted my appetite. Good luck with the workshop. Prue
Posted by Prue from Oz on August 21st, 2013 at 9:00 AM
Thinking of you guys lately and hoping your class is going well - can't wait to see pictures & stories!
Posted by Eliza on August 22nd, 2013 at 8:52 AM
Prue - Thanks so much! :D Good luck building your little house!

Eliza - It makes me so happy to know that you're thinking of us. :-) We'll post as soon as we can, once Tyler's laptop is fixed. How is life in Maine?
Posted by Tara Alan on August 22nd, 2013 at 5:10 PM
Of course, I am super jealous, and wish I could "hop on over" for a day of bark peeling, and camaraderie.
Posted by Dave on August 26th, 2013 at 3:53 PM
Looks like a great project! Wood, creativity, friends, learning, building, home - all included.

I noticed a fair bit of spalting on some of your logs - is this a concern?

Posted by ET on August 30th, 2013 at 10:46 AM
Thanks ET :)

All of our posts are several inches over the engineer's spec in diameter--loss of strength from spalting is not a concern. Also, we really like the look.
Posted by Tyler on September 4th, 2013 at 10:07 AM