grandfather gramps conrad kitchen cupbords project

Early April 2019 Homestead Update

Wild Maine Weather and… My Grandfather Finished the Kitchen Cabinets!

maine weather is crazy spring snow storm icestorm nor'easter bucksport maine wheaton farm

Just after having just hitched on the York rake to our old Farmall a few days back a real whomper was forecasted to hit. At first there was a 30% chance of a wintry mix. As of last night it’s supposed to drop 3-4 inches of heavy sleet in addition to kicking off with freezing rain. Not only will that muck up the just smoothed over dirt road—the heavy accumulation threatens a power outage able to kill 200+ eggs in our incubator. Our only goose eggs laid all season are in there and at a vulnerable stage in development.

I feel bad for the many songbirds who have just arrived home for the warm months. Those who flew from afar are likely still low on body fat and this storm may do them in. I’m not a feeder of wild birds for several reasons. Feeding wild birds increases the chance of poultry lice, diseases and I pay enough for grain already. If I were to feed them closer to the house to keep them away from the coops and barn it would attract various rodents which we already have proclaimed war on here.

Yesterday I saw the first moth flutter by. The geese have been eating grasses which reduces the grain bill. And for the first time in my life I’m aggravated by the lingering winter which is normally a welcome part of the ever-changing seasons here in Maine. Every few hours the snow accumulation totals rise an inch. At least I have some work inside to attend to—between four milking sessions a day for two goats each time.

Gramps finished the top cupboards

Over the winter I gave my grandfather Conrad an elaborate kitchen cabinet design. Months passed as he pulled lumber from the complex stacks, walkways and thin passages in the barn lofts. He’d fallen hundreds of trees on his property for both lumber and firewood. Thousands of board feet passed through his sawmill over the years. I wish I knew just how many.

grandfather gramps conrad kitchen cupbords project

As he planed lumber we moved into the unfinished house we’d bought. My stepfather, Marty, built our chimney. Kevin’s family helped us move-in. Life became more chaotic than usual as we worked on installing fixtures, plumbing in toilets and sinks, and finding deals on appliances. Kevin is strong and handy. I’m cheap and eager. It all came along fast. Things fell together without any arguments over fixture designs or from being beat-to-hell at the end of each day. Weeks passed, boxes of junk and mouse chewed sweaters were tossed. Liberation from the endless things we hold onto and will never really use.

Leaves fell to reveal thin naked branches, pumpkins rotted on doorsteps and ugly burlap-wrapped appeared on perfectly sculpted shrubs. I’ll never understand why someone would want to have an ornamental plant which produces nothing of use and looks like a burlap sack on end for half the year. People are funny. It was November when we moved.

It took gramps longer than expected. He hadn’t gotten entirely used to living alone yet. He washed his own clothes. He cooked his own meals. He washed is own dishes. The realization of how hard my grandmother had worked over the years was still setting in.

The bottom cupboards were finished first and the top a couple of months later. Each time we drove an hour to Winterport, Maine where my grandparent’s farm is to pick them up. They were in sections—this was no small undertaking. My grandfather had to remove a window and framing to get them out of his living room and kitchen where he’d built them.

My grandmother had moved in with my parents across the road, and he was enjoying his woodworking shop filling the house with shavings in a room with a cookstove. He’s a little eccentric and a lot stubborn. Over the winter we came for sawdust and shaving from this monumental indoor project.

Conrad Grant of Winterport Maine stream road old farmhouse homestead old man farmer

The top cupboards reached to ceiling on a wall about 15-feet or more wide and fit around one window and en exposed beam. A 10-foot stainless-steel countertop came short of covering  the upper counter. A shorter counter stepped down on the far end. It was for working on taller projects, and to have better leverage and ergonomically comfort to press down when kneading breads or pressing cheeses.  A couple more months passed before the top was ready and this photo below is from right before we picked to top half up.

newborn nubian baby goat kid hike with goats in maine farm animals to play with in maine petting zoos with baby goats

We picked them up about a week ago and my husband put the last upper section up firth thing this morning. In the next few days I’ll have fun finally organizing my kitchen and having a clear counter for the first time since moving in. With two goats having just kidded in the last few weeks milk will be abundant. I will be ready to make cheeses, separate cream, experiments with soaps, and use the old-fashioned fermentation cabinet for yogurt and kefir.

Today I’ll top off feeders early and bring extra jugs of water so I won’t need to wade or drive the 1/8-mile between the house and barnyard. Then I can hunker down, transplant seedlings to larger pots this afternoon and put my cabinet doors in place this evening.