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One of my spring projects is to peel aspen sticks for customers (usually woodcarvers) that want 6 foot long walking sticks.
This spring proved to be odd and challenging. Sticks didn't peel well until into June. Wet weather delayed my chances of getting into the woods. And a lengthy hailstorm left brown poka-dots on a good portion of my crop.
Luckily for me, a fellow from Red Lake Nation came through with a batch of good straight sticks on Sunday night and I was able to add those to my meager crop of acceptable sticks. Thank you, Richard!
What one might not know is that to get one straight, uniform stick, sometimes five or more sticks have to get peeled. Besides the aspen in the photos, I have about 150 more on the porch. These were the sticks that were too short, crooked, or full of character to meet the wood carvers' needs. They make good sticks for other creative purposes, but they don't make the grade for large wholesale orders.
Someone asked me the other day why I do this project. Projects like these are the ways I am able to put money into the boys' savings accounts. I don't give regular allowances. But I try to give the boys opportunities to learn how to make money. They help with the sticks, and then they split the profits between them. Same with the sheep sales-when there are any. All the money has to go into their "education" savings accounts. They gripe about this occasionally, but they get kind of excited to see those accounts grow too. Hopefully this is teaching them the value of postponing that instant gratification craving.