131: Christmas Cards!





Also, here's a distant shot of the Coldholler Log Cabin, finished, in the Fall of 2011:

130: Holiday Day BBQs, 2011!

Christmas Eve BBQ:
50 pounds of Boston Butt (pork shoulder) at 5am
Mid-morning, smoking away at 250 degrees

Smoke on the driveway!

Old Pawpaw checking out the butts...

Done at 3pm, with a nice bark and 203 degree core temperature.  The meat just fell off of the bone, and the smoke ring was almost an inch deep all around.  Wrapped them in a towel and encased them in a cooler to sit until I pulled them at 4:30pm, with dishwashing gloves to protect my hands from the heat.

Some of the pulled pork -- that's just pan #1.

Boys making yeast rolls for pork sandwiches!

Thanksgiving BBQ:
We have much to be thankful for, most of all our family and friends.  What better way to celebrate their love and camaraderie than breaking bread?  Or smoking 56 pounds of pork and poultry.  So, Thanksgiving morning, at 4:30am, I started a fire.  Here is a pictorial chronology!

4:30am -- starting the Kingsford comp charcoal.  Mainly to ignite oak chunks that I debarked and split. 
Those butts went on at 5am.  The turkeys went on at 7am.  I foiled the butts when they stalled, around 8am.
Fatties went on with two hours left, around 11am.  They only need to cook up to 165 degrees and absorb as much smoke as possible, so here I added lots of fresh oak to the firebox.  The driveway smelled like smoky paradise.   I mashed three pounds of locally-raised and produced breakfast sausage flat over three latticeworks of bacon, sprinkled dry rub and cheese on the inside surface, and rolled them into tight logs -- this is a fun little "extra" practiced by elite BBQ athletes in competition, toward the end of their longer cooks.
Angus came out to inspect at 7:15am and stayed for 2 hours in the 28 degree morning.  Pawpaw expresses his admiration.
Michael Faughn, encouraging the meat to cook the best way he knows how!  Dawn broke, but his voice never did.
The turkeys came out perfect -- after brining for 24 hours and smoking on oak for 6.5 at 250, they were juicy smoky goodness!
I took the butts off when they reached 203d, after about 8 hours, and wrapped them in a cooler for another hour before pulling them.  Amazing.  Great smoke ring, too!
The fatties were great -- I'm always doing that bacon thing, from now on.
Mike's wife Axelle, from France, brought some amazing foie gras, which was sublime on the fatty, washed down with a bit of pinot noir.
Smoke ring on the bird!  The carrots it sat on to keep it off the cast iron were amazing, too.  Smoky and full of turkey broth...

129: Windows and good luck

This weekend, I spent some time cutting Lexan and installing it over the screens in our cabin.  It's not super tight -- there'll be draftiness for sure.  But not so much that we'll feel a breeze, and a bit of air flow and ventilation will be necessary anyway once there's any source of heat in such a small space.

I also hung a couple of old cow bells from the door and some chimes from the antlers overhead.  For a final touch, I hung two large horseshoes over the door.  In August, at Burning Pig Festival, my co-cook and old friend, Taylor Watts, brought one for each boy, for fun and good luck.  Taylor raises and uses massive draft horses on his farm in Stateboro and in his carriage tour business in Savannah.  So the shoes are real, and used!  Sloan reminded me to hang them open-end-up, so the luck won't fall out onto the floor...

Helping a little brother along a leafy trail...
Angus like the door bells!

Wow -- horseshoes!
Dad, we can feel the good luck!

Taking the high road home.  Where'd all these leaves come from?

128: Water is life...

Last year, I talked about the prevalence of water in Coldholler.  The cabin sits on a uniquely dry spot though, the gently sloping crest of a ridge, relatively high above where all of our springs surface and flow.  So naturally, I built a collection device and clamped it to the downstream end of a culvert upslope but just on my property -- it delivers a permanent spring from the other side of a logging road.  I'm pretty sure that the spring would disappear but for the culvert, because its flow used to soak fully into the ground just downhill from where I plumbed it.

Now, it travels several hundred feet downhill to emerge from a well-pipe next to the cabin, dropping an additional 8 feet through the air to land in a 5 gallon galvanized washtub, splashing the surrounding leaves and trees, filling the site with sound.  It's nice to have a place to wash up or just enjoy the zen of falling water.

127: Sharpening accouterments...

I've written lots about tools and sharpening...
For example, HereHereHereHereHere, and Here.

And I mentioned my water stones here, a sequence of finer gritted wet stones used to hone chisels, drawknives, and other tools to a razor sharp but durable edge.

Here's a new toy:

See the grooved stone? That's my new toy. It's a flattening stone, used to restore the even faces of the finer stones sitting next to it. See the green stone? That's a 60-grit grind stone. I'm pretty sure my flattening stone shouldn't be used on that, not if the flattening stone itself can be doctored by 220-grit water paper on glass. Anybody know how I can flatten a green stone? I scooped it a tad while fixing a rounded bevel on an adze.

126: New trail!

Last weekend, Abel helped me build a new trail.  Cutting a trail in these woods isn't really hard, although I'm guilty of taking shortcuts.  The science of installing water bars, deadmen, proper steps, and crowned pathways isn't beyond me, it just isn't necessary for low-traffic places like our holler, where our foot paths see easy use and little exposure.  For real trail work, look no further than Tobias Miller and his crews in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Abel and I selected a nice connecting route connecting the cabin with the nice, wide trail that travels down from the treehouse to the depths of a shady, hidden mini gorge on the other side of our Coldholler ridge and the cabin and around to meet the cabin trail on a small saddle.  We cut it diagonally with only a slight gradient, so that it could be walked with little effort.  Abel impressed me with his tenacity and focus.  Not many 6-year-olds will wield a yard tool and work for 90 minutes without complaining.  He made it his job to follow my rougher work with a stiff rake, pulling the loosened dirt more evenly across our trail.

Abel, standing on new trail!

After we finished our trail (about 300 meters long), Sloan and Angus brought a snack.  Actually, she brought beverages and a full spaghetti dinner!  Life is good in Coldholler...

125: Log cabin furniture!

Recently, readers of this blog may have noticed a trend toward BBQ and away from cabin-building.  Actually, they don't have to be mutually exclusive subjects.  During Burning Pig Festival, held at the Coldholler Log Cabin, roving bands of kids used the cabin as a fort and destination to play and escape adult supervision.  While I smoked chicken for the NPS, I needed a tailgate project and made two heavy, simple, plank chairs that offer the angled comfort of adirondack sitting.  And last week, while several racks of ribs took their time at low temperatures, I crafted two benches.

Both the chairs and the benches are constructed from rough-sawn, full-dimension, 2"x14" white pine boards cut special by Ralph Morgan.  A 10' board like that weighs many pounds.  A couple of them, joined to make a chair or a bench, are enough to hurt a man.

The benches fold out to double their width.  Folded out, they're each 80" long by 29" wide, offering plenty of room for a single sleeper.  Rolled on their 300 pound caster wheels and latched together, they form a platform designed to hold a conventional double-bed mattress.  A rolled-up futon mattress could be stored in a plastic bin beneath the cabin.  

Here are some pictures of Sloan, the boys, and their grandparents, checking out the new furniture.  Enjoy!

Abel makes a mouse ladder

Abel:  "Come on!  See the benches!"

Abel hard at work

Abel gathering sticks

Momomma Mary Sue Despeaux and Dodaddy Mike, sitting

Dodaddy:  "Whatcha thinkin, Momomma?"

Sloan:  "Angus, we can see you!"  Notice the bench is folded out.

"We like it, Michael" 
Testing out the bed -- see how the benches come together?

The boys and their Dodaddy, on an unfolded bench.  Amazing how two benches like that fold up into a solid platform, full-sized, double bed!

"It's sturdy, Dad!"

Mid-air Abel:  "COWABUNGA!"

About Me

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I use this blog to chronicle certain aspects of my life near the Smokies. I'm building a cabin. I kayak. Sometimes I bike.