Friday, June 17, 2016

Adding a bit of color to the children's castle.

 Banners for the castle

Thought the castle (in progress) needed a bit of color. It was raining, so I worked inside to finish the first two banners for the castle.
The yellow and black is my LODER coat-of-arms. The red banner with the sable rampart lion is one of the EASTMAN coat-of-arms. More will follow in due time.

The banners in their mounts. Getting them up there is not easy.

Charlotte and Rayne Loder visit the castle.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Building a castle

Castle as of June 12th

 A Play Castle for the Grandchildren

This is my first entry on the "castle" we are building as a play house for our grandchildren. Check back for updates.

Moses by his "house."
A "house" Moses built from loose lumber.
Moses Eastman, my older grandson, is a persistent builder. So in April, I said, “What would you think if I build you a castle?”
    So we read David Macaulay’s Castle. We searched the web for images of castles (Search under <> for a web site that has the most pictures of various real castles. We purchased a DVD of Ivanhoe (1953 version with Robert Taylor and Elizabeth Taylor—great scenes of a castle siege).
Moses making plans for the castle.
Site we picked behind work shed.

Moses drew plans. Papi drew plans. Mimi selected the best site.
Base and uprights in place—late April.
Four concrete bases and four 4X4 twelve-footers became the frame for a two-story tower in the woods.
Putting in the first floor.
The first floor has a trapdoor to give access to a dungeon.

Moses helped whenever he could.
Moses on stair to upper floor.
 The ceiling is just over six-foot between the joists.
The second floor is where the action is. A covered balcony with crenelations will allow the castle to be defended. The roof mirrors the roofs we see on many real castle towers, and allows adults to stand inside.
Outline of the roof.
Outrigger post.
We added posts as outriggers and buried them in concrete to add extra strength and stability.

 By early May the roof was beginning to take shape.

A castle in the woods.

The dragons were routed out.
 The porch uprights have Loder dragons carved into them.

The dragon posts in place.
Roof is covered and walls started.

Upper walls going on.
Starting to paint.

The framing lumber and plywood all came from our local Home Depot, but the lower walls and the back were built with loose boards from the family farm’s barn. Once they were part of a pig house.

At least four different species of wood.

Door to balcony and west window. Upper window in place.
The upper story windows were once part of a chicken house. Recycle-recycle.We made the door to the balcony using two of the old 1x12s from the farm—arched, of course.

Moses now has his own special corner on the first level with a desk and shelf.
Moses' corner.

The project is in its 50th day (more-or-less). The upper level is starting to take on its final shape. Still need to finish the drawbridge, main castle door and the first floor walls.  Stay-tuned. Will add another blog report soon.
Drawbridge is up but needs ropes.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Death by moonlight, dinner by day

People travel from all over the world to places like the Serengeti to watch grazing animals get torn apart and eaten by big cats and other predators. This winter Nature-ripe-with-tooth-and-claw-and-beak came to our own back yard.
First it was the accipitors who find our cute little sparrows that come to our feeder so irresistible.
Turkey vulture, carcass and tracks.
Then two nights ago something, a coyote perhaps, broke into the deer pen at the bottom of our hill and routed the deer sheltered there. Perhaps half-a-dozen fled uphill. All but one got away. By mid-day, the turkey vultures had discovered the remains and dined al fresco all afternoon. This morning, the crows are taking their turn.
Turkey vultures on the deerkill.
The deer was young, perhaps a yearling. It bogged down in the deep, crushed snow, its thin hooves breaking through over a foot-and-a-half, reducing its panicked run to a crawl, while the coyote danced about it, its paws sinking in no more than an inch.
Deer tracks to right, deep and dragged.  Coyote's to left, barely breaking the surface of the snow.
The chase ranged back-and-forth over an area half the size of a football field before the victim slipped and stumbled once too often. All this story was easy to see in the bright sunshine of Monday.
The scene of battle with remains of the loser.
I hope that what little is left will be carted way by foxes before all this snow finally melts.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A bit of snow this year

It seems like Kyle, our farmer is plowing out our driveway every other day. We have no problems getting out, but the piles keep growing.
Mo on top of one of the snow piles. He loves to climb up and slide down.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Someone Came for Lunch

February 5th, 2014

Our birdfeeder is attracting a lot of birds this winter. But some do not come for the sunflower seeds. This immature Cooper's Hawk showed up and decided that a sparrow was just what she needed for lunch. The menu was either a junco or a white-throated sparrow. By the time we got home from shopping, it was a bit had to tell. The hawk de-feathered her meal then ate everything else, bones and all. Then she perched on a branch in full view for over an hour, crop full and enjoying the sun. Only the agile titmouses dared return.

Coopers Hawk dining.
Accipiter Cooperii, immature female

Camera was a Nikon D80 with a 500mm f8 Zeiss Fernobjektiv
set at f11 and less than 30 feet away. Did not have to do virtually any cropping.
Another Cooper's Hawk visited two days later, but it appeared smaller and may be a male. It was already showing adult plummage on the sides of its breast and still had the white terminal band to its tail. This bird should have a white terminal band as well, but her tail feathers are so worn that the tips are gone. The second bird was spotted by the small birds before it even got close and failed to get a lunch.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

For the birds

Male Pileated Wookpecker
A couple of pileated woodpeckers showed up by the house. One stayed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures of him with the 50cm Fernobjektiv. When I came back later with the 640mm Noflexar, he left, but a male house finch stayed long enough for me to get another picture.

Male House Finch

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our "Wildernest" Camper

For some time we have remembered the old days when we had a Volkswagen camper bus and used it to travel widely, stopping to sleep whenever we felt the need.
But what we needed now was something compatible with our pickup truck. After some research, we discovered the Wildernest campers, built and sold between 1987 and 1996(?). Low-production items, they are almost collector's items today and finding one that is in decent condition and in the eastern United States almost impossible. After several months of searching, we located on in eastern Massachusetts. The price and condition sounded reasonable and it was a model that would fit our truck's bed.

We drove to Weymouth and picked the Wildernest canopy up in early April. It has required a lot of restoration, but the shell and canvas are in decent shape. Here are two images from its first outing with its new (sixth) owners.
It poured rain, but the tent worked. We love the roominess and ease of setup. Gets hot inside without the sides open. It leaks around the bed seat in front. Bed is a bit narrow for two, but adequate. We plan to get a lot of use out of it.