by Sydney Michalski

Harvest has multiple meanings around the homestead. We are learning and growing as farmers, and so harvest, in one sense, is definitely about gathering crops, and preparing the farm for next year. But at the same time, as a woodworker, Joe always has an eye towards harvesting the trees, too!

And because we do our work by hand, we have the opportunity to balance these harvests, to make choices that benefit both of our harvests, to practice sustainable harvesting in very practical, everyday decisions.

Since the farm provides food for our family, it tends to take a high priority in decisions. As we cleared this field and established beds for next year’s planting, we had several trees in the midst that would just have to go, in order to provide enough hours of sunshine for the farm to be productive.

Maple trees have to be cleared for the farm, but will be cut in winter to use the wood, on the Michalski homestead.
To let the sun shine on the farm, these trees have to come down – but not until we’re ready to use them well!

Buuuuuut, these are some very nice maples and alders that we’re talking about here! And so, we decided to leave them in-place until winter.

If we went ahead and cut them down right now, our farm beds would be complete, and that would be a great feeling! But, with everything else we have to do on the farm to get ready for next year, we would only have time to section everything up for firewood, and that would be a great waste…

Instead, we can just work around them for now…And then, in the winter, when the sap is down, we’ll be able to harvest them properly. Joe can section out smaller pieces to work green, and mill larger pieces to stack and dry. And when spring comes, the farm will be ready to go with full-sun, we will have done some winter-work with some nice wood, and we will have done our best to make the best-of-both-harvests!

A wild-cherry stump is transformed into an impromptu table on the Michalski Homestead.
When you’re taking out your own trees, you can get a little creative!

And, when you’re doing things by hand, sometimes you also have the opportunity to just have a little fun! This wild cherry tree was harvested last year, and has already been put to use in some lovely tableware, like the Wild Cherry Bean Spoon, Wild Cherry Spreader, Wild Cherry Handled Butter Dish, Wild Cherry Baby Spoons, and so much more!

But the stump still remains…And rather than remove it, to make a perfect farm field, Joe decided to clean up all around it, do a little creative chainsaw work, and look forward to many years of refreshing beverages gathered around our impromptu farm-table!

I know that there are plenty of intellectual terms floating around about sustainability – sustainable forestry, sustainable harvest, sustainable living. And there are plenty of people trying to define exactly what sustainability means, in academic terms. But to me, this is what sustainable living boils down to: making decisions each day that honor what God gave you, in order to make the best possible use, and have the least possible waste. It’s simply good stewardship, and it’s something that we strive for every day, because it’s the way that we demonstrate appreciation for what God has provided. It’s just part of the beauty of making things from the tree, for your home!

The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1, KJV)

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