The Sweet Family in 2005

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Industrial-scale wind power led our 2004 diary and was an active issue all year in 2005. The proposed Highland County project grinds slowly toward approval despite the continuing opposition of a large majority of the citizens.

Last year we left our new tractor shed and remodeled tool shed finished but unpainted. It is now truly finished with a good coat of preservative stain. Click on the small photo at right for a photo-diary of this project, updated with two new pix since last year. In September we started another big building project, adding a large porch onto our cabin. Pretty good progress was made before we were shut down by winter weather and other events. This is scheduled for completion in 2006. Click on the lower photo at right for another photo diary.

Char made a cross-country trip in May and June to visit relatives in Kansas, Washington, and Minnesota. After considering various modes of public transportation and their associated costs and hassles, she decided to drive. She would not be tied to a schedule, so she could stop anywhere she pleased, and she could take whatever she wanted along. The top photo at left shows her near Washington Pass in the North Cascades on her way home. Click on the photo to open a diary of her trip. A few days before Char returned, a small orange kitten chose our place for his home. Rudy was quite skittish at first but he settled down somewhat and let us know that we had been adopted. He is shown at left a few days after his arrival. He has his mouth open, which is typical for him. Click on the photo to open a photo gallery of our cats, including several more photos of Rudy.

Old fence
New braces
Running wire

While Char was gone, I was busy with my usual chores at home plus one big project. I mentioned last year that we had to build line fince on the mountain. The old fence was in terrible shape in spots, so our cattle and those of our neighbor mingled almost at will. This is a pretty big chore as a temporary fence must be erected off to one side to give working room, then the old fence must be removed, along with any brush and trees growing close to it. Then new posts are driven and the wires run, stapled, and pulled tight. I did about 280 yd and have more than that yet to do. The top photo at right shows the old fence at my starting point. The second one shows the same spot with new braces built and a new gate hung, and the third photo depicts running the wires, with three of the six now in place.

Paint roof
Fallen tree

The house roof needed to be painted this year. That is one chore I did not have to undertake, as I was able to hire some competent help. The top photo at left shows Perry Warner at work on the Fourth of July. We were quite surprised when he arrived for work rather than taking a holiday. There were good conditions that day as it was overcast and not as hot as usual.

Getting in firewood is a continuing job on the farm. We use 8 to 10 cords a year. Last year a large red oak blew down at the north end of our place, almost on top of the line fence. The second photo at left shows this tree in early summer and the third photo shows it reduced to blocks awhile later. It still must be split, loaded, hauled, and stacked in the woodshed. They say wood heat warms you twice but in reality it is more like five or six times!

Char has taken up classical music and is now playing with the Allegheny Highlands Orchestra in Covington. The top photo at right shows her in the Christmas concert this fall. Click on the photo to see several other pix of the orchestra.

I’ve been saving the biggest news for last. We have sold the business so I will be semi-retired beginning in January. We had one person interested in it a couple of years ago but that fell through. Two new candidates emerged this year in September. We hosted visits by each of them and described what we do and how we wanted to proceed. By October we had reached an agreement with David Hearn, shown with me in the lower photo at right. Davey is an old friend from my canoe-racing days, with a history much like mine of building and designing boats and racing C-1 slalom. His is a more illustrious history than mine since he holds a number of World Championship medals. He also has run a small paddling-gear business with his wife, Jennifer, so I feel sure he has the background to continue the success of the business I have run for 29 years. Clicking on the photo will take you to their web site. The company is now called Sweet Composites.

I said “semi-retired” in the previous paragraph because I will be consulting with Davey and helping him get things going smoothly. I will also maintain the web site for an indefinite period. They will be operating the business from their home in Bethesda, MD. After our meetings here they went home to arrange for warehouse space and other details while Char and I set about closing out the year. Our last shipping day came in mid-December. Shortly thereafter Davey arrived with a rental truck and hauled most of the inventory in three large loads, the final one departing on Christmas Eve. I will run my end of the business as a consultant and also retain ownership of the inventory while it is being paid off over several years. My first consulting trip will be to Bethesda in January to help get things rolling. We are hoping for a nearly seamless transition.

A substantial snow arrived in Mustoe just as we were making our final shipments. It had little impact on business operations while setting the proper tone for Christmas. For obvious reasons we never got Christmas letters in the mail and I am writing this well after the fact. We are looking forward to the changes 2006 will bring.