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Back of Beyond Farm is a small, family run operation in Rist Canyon, Colorado. We work closely with natural rhythms to create wellness teas from indigenous and naturalized plants. 2013 marks our 4th year of supporting our community through tasty teas. In the year ahead, we hope to continue our work of not only producing healthful teas, but also exploring the edges of what it means to farm and be a part of a place.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tool - Saw

Chainsaws have been a part of my life for a long time. My Dad used his little McCulloch to whittle away our log house on the prairie, my brother-in-law and I went in on a Stihl O56 for $50 to start our forestry business while I was in college, and the VERY FIRST post-move-in purchase when we came to the Back of Beyond was a Stihl "Farm Boss".

There is a reason the chainsaw is the featured "tool" of the horror movie, but I've only had one, well two....so three close calls in hundreds of hours of use. Two were my fault, plain and simple, the other the saw turned on me in a Stephen King, "Christine" kinda way. But we talked it out and got past our mutual differences.

My chainsaw is by far the most technical, mechanical of my favored tools, but it's really quite simple - keep it clean, keep it sharp, keep the chain the right tight, clean the air filter, and it keeps on going. Some days I take a hand saw into the woods to get some exercise or revel in the quiet....I am always glad to go back to the chainsaw after the burn in my arms subsides.

Quite simply, I am glad to have the "Farm Boss" on this little farm.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tool - Tin Cup

Ok, this is as lame as it gets in the realm of "tools" but honestly, I can't say enough how much I enjoy these "tin" cups I got somewhere, from someone.


The kids collect berries, in them, I make a quick twig fire and brew fresh tea in them right on the fire, I dig with them, I water plants with them, I do everything with them (except wash them....I need to do that).

They are just "around" so make for sponteneous use. They are indestructable. They are functional. Maybe I am making some guidlines for tool purchases in the future - easy, simple, functional, long lasting.....hmmm....sounds good to me.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Tool - Knife

I read a magazine article many years ago - it was about your favorite knife and as people went on about their stag horned, dropped forged, billion dollar knife, one guy wrote about his cheap, Mora knife from Sweden. Cost him $8 bucks, is ugly as sin, and works wonderfully.

Shortly after, my friend Tom, gifted me with a Mora knife. It quickly became my favored "do it all" knife. (Incidentally, several of my favorite tools came via Tom, who know tools and woods).

My Mora is what they call the Army knife with the high carbon blade (now $18.00). Mora does make really expensive knives, but you're paying for prettiness, not function. this knife can hack down a tree and yet gets an edge that can skin a peach without getting juice on your shoes.

In the picture (yellow do-hickey) is also a quick sharpener. I find it to be a quick answer to a stone and oil sharpening. One side features a coarse carbide sharpener, the other a fine edge for finishing touches. I have one suggestion when using one of these - be sure to draw your knife an equal number of times from each side (not each end). Because of the way the sharpeners are placed in there (off-set), I find it works to count how many draws you do from one side, then do an equal from the other.

This knife gets sharper than any other I've ever owned, with half the hassle, can do crazy amounts of prying, chopping, and other un-knife like work, and still keep or regain an edge. I agree with the guy in the article: Make mine a Mora.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tools - Ax

In exploring some of the things I am most thankful for in 2011, I couldn't help but keep thinking of the basic tools that make my daily life easier - or at the least - more enjoyable. Over the next few weeks, I would like to pay tribute to a few of these "extensions of hand". My apologies if you are looking for wizarding tools that will preform magic. These are tools of "appropriate technology" (see post on 1/5/11 ).  And as a means of dialogue, please feel free to share your favorites with me as well.

My ax is a daily part of my life from September through April (most years). Keeping the fire burning at the right times of day allows us to use minimal heat from other sources. Axes have an appeal that, similar to the hammer and knife, go back to our earliest experiences in a craft - hammer and nails in scrap pieces of lumber, a knife peeling ribbons from a marshmallow roasting stick, and the ax on an early camping trip.

My ax is onto it's second handle in 8 years. My ax is nothing special - just a tool that came with the forest, left behind by the previous owner. And though every year there is a renewed commitment to better tending my tools, it generally gets one or two sharpenings with a stone (St. Mathias day in February is a good time, as is early September in preparation for the Winter of chopping) and a periodic oiling of head and handle. I am no Dick Proenneke with an ax, but I get by.

Some day, I imagine a Gransfors Bruks ax in my hand, deftly making "little from big", but till then, my freebie ax is most appreciated in making a home in these woods.