Here, going through the firewood pile like it was vanilla pudding with this cold Siberian high pressure system hanging over. Not to be misunderstood now, the winter here, up untill last week had been absolute crap - warm, wet, soggy, grey - so the cold fresh, and above all dry air now is more than welcome. The wood boiler at full working force out there in the stall keeping the whole house warm enough.

Well Bahler, the last time I reached for flax was about two weeks ago. Doing some plumbing work, and to seal up one of the nut connectors of two adjoining pieces by lining the thread of the male component with flax fiber. Any leakage will soon swell the fibers permanently, sealing the joint. A lot of plumbers are using teflon tape for this purpose, with all the disadvantages that entails. Anyway, not having the fibers ready to use I grab a handful of flax stocks harvested last year and the year before, down from the hay loft, beat, break, twist, scrape and otherwise abuse the hell out of them until the outer dried stem has broken away to leave just the long intact fibers in hand, making up extra just to have when the need arrises for example, short lengths for tying up a sack or bundle. Another time the flax came in handy was last year or so, laying a lime screed floor in the boiler room. With the whole stock - minus the seeds naturally which have to be replanted - lain roughly or randomly spread under the scree, as opposed to mixed through, acting as reinforcement - where you might otherwise use reinforcement bar or re-bar. Well, there is just under 100 liters now out there in the barn, of oil, pressed from flax seed by my neighbor with his oil press, known as linseed oil oddly enough. That, I used in a mixture to coat the barn. Mixed up with some ocher pigment and lime I painted the ceiling in the kitchen. For walls or items within reach it is less good because of the time it takes to dry, but up there on the ceiling it doesn't bother anyone. We used the fine outer portion - a waste product otherwise - of the stocks mixed into the mortar as we bricked up the masonry oven at the other house. Again, it is a sort of flexible reinforcement that can accommodate a lot of the movement that occurs as the masonry work cycles through heating up and cooling down. One might think, huh, dried grass to make an oven? But I am assured that as long as there is no air there is no combustion. What more? Oh yeah, On a more refined level, and also after some processing, the flax is spun and woven into a more or less open structured linen which is tacked to a grid of battens nailed on a plastered wall. Well, I won't go into the process just now, but this linen forms a good tight and flat underground for pasting wallpaper onto with very fine and durable effect. These are some of the uses I've had the chance to put flax to in every form from unprocessed to moderately processed.

Richard, There is some help here for the next half year and to start him off he's begun taking apart and refurbishing the old wheelbarrow with the cast iron wheel I pulled out from the sheep shed down there at the end. He'll be wire brushing and painting the wheel, replacing broken parts with new and remaking what needs remaking, then we'll mix up some paint to make it look sharp in the end. I'll be calling it, The Mellema Wheelbarrow in honor of the previous owner and in all likelihood original maker. Planks of pine, structural components, oak. Sort of a simplified counterpart of your sleigh, minus the family history part though.


Don Wagstaff

Last edited by Cecile en Don Wa; 02/05/12 02:25 PM.