Saturday, October 01, 2005

October 2005 - Forests and Wood

Most of our forests, and thus most of our products, are spruce. Spruce has to be at least 60 years old before it can be harvested. Rina, my mother-in-law, remembered when she was taken by coach when she was a new bride, to our Lipi forest being planted with young spruce. They were turning a meadow into a forest, in her honor. When she came back to the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution we began to harvest those spruces.

Visiting the woodshop, you'll find some of these items being constructed: balcony, fence slats, stair components, beams, wine racks, bookcases, tables with chairs, cradles, king-sized beds, luggage racks, kitchen shelves, pegged coat or key holders, Adirondack chairs, or a special order for a single dining table or a garden gate.

Forest protection laws go back to Maria Theresa: felling trees is always followed by replanting baby trees. The first thing we did with harvested trees, after they had been hauled to the road with horse, and then tractor, was to sell them as is, as logs. However, raw lumber prices are low, so we began making products.

Driving through Austria or Bavaria you immediately see wide-spread use of spruce balcony and fence slats. Thus began one of our early products. Austrian company Holtz Schneider purchased these, but most are sold in the Czech Republic.

Several products were made mainly by one employee who worked at home. If we gave him too much wood, or didn't keep close track of him, we'd end up with a great surplus of whatever he was making, all beautifully done. We asked for two cradles for our expected grandchild. A few weeks after her birth we asked, "Why the delay?" Well, he was making 16 cradles, not just two. Two cradles are in America, two are in Holland. Several were given as gifts here, or purchased. We still have three or four.

We have a couple dozen extra luggage racks made of beech. Initially a friend with a hotel ordered some, and then another hotel. Our upholsterer put on canvas tops. We use them for guests, and daughters in America have some. But, suddenly one day, we had many more. I've sold a few of these.....

Another overflowing product was king-sized beds!!! An impetus to the order was a request from a former manager of a California rock-band, who'd moved to Prague, and wanted one delivered to her apartment in a small street near the British Embassy.

My husband came from the carpenter's shop one day, "Do you know he's making seven?" "Yes, but four are single beds." "I don't think so," he replied. So I went. "Oh, all the beds are king-sized" (i.e. 80" X 80 inches), this carpenter assured me. (Never mind what I'd ordered.) "Of course we can't change now. See, the head and foot boards are already shaped fit for a Zamek!" As I walked out his gate, our son arrived. He also counted seven king-sized beds....
I had to go back to the upholsterer/mattress maker and change my order a little.

Every working day a transport company picks up most of the bulky orders, which consist of large numbers of balcony and fence slats, along with, usually, wine racks and bookcases which customers assemble themselves with included screws; pegged key & coat holders; small spice shelves; and sometimes knife blocks.

Adirondack chairs were a new product last year. After the floods, Stephanie Vyborna urged us to make these while people were replacing their possessions. Finally we did; several have been ordered by people who tried out the one we have in our dining room, along with its separate foot support. We too think that it is very comfortable. The chairs are made of birch, a hard wood which takes finishes very nicely.

I have a small forest of my own: "Barbie's Oak Forest". For several years I heckled a former forester to plant a few oaks for me. He always said, "Oh, I can't plant oaks". Finally my husband told him, "Plant oaks!" I was thinking 20 to 50, planted here and there. One day they came to tell me, "Your oaks are planted!" Great! They continued speaking, "It's a little forest, only 1000 oaks." LITTLE forest! ONLY 1000 oaks! When you look at the small area it's hard to believe there are 1000 oaks there, but they must be planted closely, so that they will grow straight and tall. I help them when I drive past, encouraging them, "Grow straight and tall little oaks".Harvesting must wait at least for our grandsons.