Francis Mallet

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since Mar 29, 2017
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trees books chicken woodworking
acadian peninsula, New Brunswick, Canada
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Recent posts by Francis Mallet

Alex Arn wrote:

Francis Mallet wrote:

When I first used this trench digger I fell down to my knees and cried. I use it to break new ground, remove small stumps, cutting roots, unearthing rocks, etc.
Before digger = hell
After digger = pleasant workout

Francis, who is the maker for that trench digger?  I am in the market for one have not see one like that.


Ahh I missed this reply sorry! If anybody is interested it's available from Lee Valley at 66.50$ CAD

Lee Valley Trench Digger

I broke a piece off the handle this summer pulling rocks from the garden. To be honest I should have used a pickaxe for this job the digger took a lot of abuse. When I replace the handle I think I'll make it 6" longer.

2 months ago
Thanks for the tour, lots of stuff! I try to imagine what people look or sound like and I'm always so wrong. You've got a nice voice, it felt as if I was getting a tour from Mary Poppins haha

I wish I had something to show but we still have patches of snow lingering here and there.
6 months ago
Hello Vera, I'm glad you're back. I was wondering how you were doing and if you would come back this year.

We're on a similar path I think. Mint, Sage, Lovage, Butterfly Weed, Thyme... they all seem to have become extinct from my garden. Although it's a bit early to tell as there is still some snow and my Daffodils are just about to bloom. Bee Balm is really late but I was relieved when I saw a couple poking out of the dead leaves. Losing Thyme was bad enough.

As for new seeds I was lucky to find most of what I wanted before everything was sold out. I missed my chance with chickens but with all the work that's coming up it might have been for the best. I have an unopened Orach packet and lots of Tomato seeds I saved from 2018 (Sweet 100 and Sun Gold). I'd be happy to send seeds to you if you're interested.

Your Zucchini story lol yeah I can relate. This year I've been really good with labelling (so far). I'm also dividing and transplanting back in pots for the first time. I expect to kill a bunch so I won't have as many to track ;)

I'm sure spending time in the garden will nurse you back to health. Take care Vera :)
6 months ago

James Landreth wrote:
I’d like to thank Joseph Lofthouse for introducing the concept of landrace genetics to me, and for your thoughts on seed saving and practical practices, both in the thread below and in general over the years.

Same here. Joseph Lofthouse's writing has been most influential on my way of thinking. The idea of landrace has had a profound impact in my life. Before I would see produce on shelves as products just like light bulbs, phone cases, etc. You know, "stuff". The idea that landraces would adapt not only to their location but to me and all my quirks was a powerful epiphany. The squash I harvested is no longer inanimate. I'm no longer alone in my garden, as if I was outside of life. We are partners now, connected, growing and adapting together. This realization has brought me incredible peace of mind. Thank you for showing me the way Joseph :)
6 months ago
Hello Gina

I'm in the northern part of the province, between Bathurst and Tracadie. It's not a big province but there is much variation in climate (Tuesday we had 10cm of snow).

Here are the seed places I've done business with:

Richters, On. I got a bunch of perennials from them. I like to browse their catalog.
William Dam, On
Stokes Seeds , On
McKenzie, Mb
Halifax Seed, NS
Vesey's, PEI. The only place that wasn't sold out on seed potatoes.

Hawthorn Farm, On. They carry Lofthouse Landrace Moschata.
Hope Seeds, NS. My favorite place but they changed their website and I don't like it much.  They carry stuff from local growers.
Annapolis Seeds, NS. Their grain section is interesting.
Terre Promise, Qc. A source of Ancienne d'Acadie, an old summer savory.

Hardy Fruit Trees, Qc, I placed an order with them earlier this year. We'll see how it goes.

My comfrey is from Richters. It's the fertile one and while it hasn't become the invasive monster it's supposed to be it does self seed successfully. I don't mind for now, maybe I'll regret it one day.

I don't have much experience with gardening, permaculture or seed saving so my seed bank is of dubious quality. With that disclaimer in mind I'd be willing to share/trade some of what I have.
6 months ago
I'm impressed, I had no idea this stuff was possible! How does this work? Just drill a hole and plug it with a stick? And what's that black paint? I need to learn how to do this!
7 months ago
Hello friend, I hope you and your loved ones are doing well.

I've been thinking about starting this thread for a long time now but with the new reality I find that most of what I wanted to say isn't relevant anymore. I got sick and I've been confined home for the last two weeks, next Monday it's back to work. For most people confinement is bad. To me it's a taste of what I hope to achieve one day. Now that I have to leave the safety of my home I thought it would be a good time to harvest some apples here on the forum. An apple a day keeps the doctor away :)

Year 2020 will be hard to top. In May I got the opportunity to move back into the family home. And now the pandemic... When I wrapped up the Black Bread Lodge thread I was depressed. Work was taking too much time an I had to let go of the garden. Moving on the land changed everything, I felt whole again. I mean, waking up to this, what more could a man want? Jan. 9th 2020

No reasons to be sad about the garden, a lot is going on even without my meddling. The Chives are growing, so are the Brown Eyed Susans, the Purple Coneflowers and the Columbines. The Rhubarb surprised me with flowers and seeds. The Wild Chicory, which I thought had disappeared, graced me with some of the most gorgeous flowers I've seen. After seducing me she then gave me tons of her seeds for me to spread. I can't say no! Some kind of critter feeds on the plant, I'll try my best so that they get their fill this year. More life please! Wild Chicory on July 30th 2019

There are other plants with amazing flowers. The New-England Asters aren't doing well compared to the others. Still, one of them flowered and wow! So late though, in the last week of October. I feel bad for them as they missed most of the life. I'm wondering if they are late bloomers or if they just have a hard time. Having flowers this late was nice. I didn't notice any bugs feeding on the flowers but maybe eventually they will come. This was taken on the 21st of October 2019.

Some of my plants are spreading fast. I rooted out several Stinging Nettles and saw a lots of young Comfrey. My Comfrey makes almost no leaves (which sucks a bit since that's why I planted it in the first place) but flowers profusely and Bumblebees love them. For that reason I decided to let Comfrey run. The Milkweeds aren't doing that good, the swamp variety is by far the most successful and even gave me a handful of seeds. Another beauty, Purple Coneflower, gave me two cups of seeds. I'm not sure what I'll do with them. I don't even know if they are viable. Purple Coneflowers on August 20th, 2019. (Bumblebees like them too!)

Wild Bergamot seems to be doing fine. I like to pluck a leaf to chew on while talking a walk in the garden. The plant smells nice and it is large compared with the other aromatics. I didn't harvest many leaves because at the time we didn't use them a lot. Now we use the spice in soups, on potatoes and on meat so we quickly ran out. Next year I hope to harvest at least 1 litre dry. The leaves tend to turn black when left to air dry, I might need to build a dehydrator to hasten the drying... we'll see. Living on the land gave me a reason to think about permaculture zones. It's nice to have spices close to the kitchen, the garden is too far away. Wild Bergamot gave me lots of seed maybe this spring I'll sow a couple closer to the house. The Wild Bergamot patch on August 20th, 2019.

It's not just what I planted that stirs curiosity. The way the land reacts to my impulse of activity is teaching me a lot. Two wild Asters sprung up in the garden and they are much bigger than the New-England ones I sowed. There was also a giant plant that looked like a Dandelion but isn't. Its flowers were huge! Yarrow is spreading, lots of Goldenrod that I didn't sow, clover, grasses everywhere that I'm starting to tell apart. Sometimes I feel guilty about cutting all those trees to make space for the garden. But I see more life in the garden than I see in the woods, I'll assume I did good. Clover feeding a Bumblebee on July 30th 2019.

I've got lots more I want to write about but I'll stop here for now. Feel free to say Hi or to give me an apple for morale ;)

Be safe.

8 months ago
I'll definitely experiment with charred bone. It's hard to imagine a blacker black than what I've got now, I want to see that.

I haven't tried selling my crayons. I don't see why one would buy this as you can get a multitude of colors for next to nothing. Although If I ever get the scented recipe right I might try offering those.  

My tumbler uses all rubber barrels, no linings. I used it to polish silver using steel shot, polish semi-precious stones using abrasives and now to crush pigments using marbles. I couldn't detect any contamination in my lighter pigments. The tumbler sells for around 250$ CAN while individual barrels can be found for 50$ CAN. The barrels are good but in my opinion the tumbler itself isn't worth the money.

As for the molds I make them myself. Here is a collage of the process.

Madison Woods wrote:So many things to experiment with and so little time, lol.

Yes I know! I try to combine interests to make the most of my resources. All the crayon materials are from cosmetics projects. Charcoal is for cooking, biochar, woodgas, metal working and pigment. Mold making for pottery (slip casting), metal casting and garden ornaments. Etc. Etc. Etc. I've always been a slave to my curiosity.

Safe travels Madison :)
9 months ago
Hope you're doing well Madison. How is charred bone different than charcoal? I'll try when I get my hands on bones.

I finally made crayons with my other pigments and the results are not to my liking, too pale. The green one is from a coarser pigment and the result is a crayon that feels dry and gritty although the pigment itself feels smooth to the touch. It's surprising how the hand can feel such subtle things. My tumbler keeps the pigments clean, I haven't noticed any change in color. It's a Lortone but I imagine all those machines are the same and only the brand name changes?

This is the green crayon out of the mold. I submerge the plaster mold in hot water before pouring wax.

Black, green and yellow crayons.

My current recipe uses carnauba and beeswax at 1:2 ratio and 1 tsp of charcoal for 4 tbsp of wax. I tried using soy wax (cheaper) but it didn't work for me. I also tried adding sandalwood oil to my recipe. I just like the scent but apparently it helps with anxiety and mental clarity so that's a bonus. A lot of oil had to be incorporated to the mix for the scent to be noticeable when drawing. I was really excited by the results, unfortunately the scented crayons break in my pencil sharpener. It seems they don't shrink as much and are a bit gummy. The unscented crayons sharpen easily to a shiny point. Next time I play with this I'll try cutting back on the beeswax or adding more carnauba wax.
9 months ago
I'm still at it, at a slow pace. And I strayed from the path a bit as you will see. I'm glad you are still here Madison, your work is beautiful.

This summer we went to gather samples from the beach. There is a lot more variety over there but it remains to be seen if those rocks give good pigments. There was this wonderful translucent orange agate which gave me boring washed out gray pigment...  And some other rocks are just too hard to process. My favorite so far is charcoal. It is soft, makes very smooth paint and I have an endless supply of it.

I remembered about the little tumbler I purchased a long time ago when jewellery was on my mind. To use I simply fill halfway with marbles, sprinkle rock dust and add water. After being tumbled for a few days the green shale pigment passed right through coffee filters. So now I don't bother with the filters, I just dump the content of the barrels into a wide container and let the water evaporate. In addition to the green rock I tried yellow and orange sandstone and charcoal with equally good results.

Since I don't draw or paint there is a limit to my curiosity as to which rock gives what. I would like to make writing tools though, another reason why I love charcoal. I turned myself a small container and filled it with paint. The plan was to use it as an inkwell of some sort. I shouldn't have filled it this much but the paint was such a deep black I couldn't resist, it was like looking into the Void. My own tiny version of Galadriel's mirror :)

Unfortunately I don't do calligraphy either. Writing with a brush isn't easy as it seems so I don't think I'll push much further. Maybe it's something I could offer on Etsy? I wish I had something to offer on Etsy.

I also tried mixing charcoal with linseed oil and then used the paint on rough turned wood. The result looked good and didn't stain the fingers when dried. More tests are needed. The paint might not be the best for large structures but I've got a couple of ideas for decorating small woodworks. Researching watercolor recipes and paint in general led me to other media like gouache, conté, pastel, etc. That brings me where I'm at now. This is my first wax crayon pour.

Making plaster molds isn't that easy. It took around 5 lbs of plaster before I got one tiny usable mold. And pouring wax has its challenges too. After lots of experimenting I do have acceptable mold making skills and a good recipe for crayons that do not feel sticky and won't crack just by looking at them.

The next step is to make the final mold and test if the crayons turn out good in it. All that fun all thanks to you Madison :)
10 months ago