Pine coffins and skunk cycles of life and death

Message to skunks:  Safe passage on the roads. Mid-February is breeding season for skunks, and you are reminded of that every year because the poor polecats start showing up dead on the roads around here. Starting in late January, they crisscross country lanes looking to make family connections, and some of them meet their maker […]

The outhouse joke

The outhouse joke. Recently, when coffinworks visitors Marshall and Donald toured our place, it called to mind their growing-up years on a dairy farm in Iredell County and the following outhouse story: My father had an outhouse with two seats. One day one of the hired hands went down to use it. Well he was […]

The freedom to hoist one sail

I am ever and still caught in the breeze of a smile I once saw. The smile of a certain young monk. For new readers, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We help families do more affordable funerals, naturally. In our work and in our life, we take some inspiration from monks and monasteries down through […]

Spilt milk: a monastic lesson for activists

It was during the time I left teaching to make coffins that our Dexter cow had her first calf and began to give milk. For readers just joining, we are Piedmont Pine Coffins. We make our boxes with hand tools and take our inspiration from farmsteads and monasteries through the ages: self-sufficiency, hospitality, and a […]

A murder of crows

A murder of crows in both senses — that’s the tale of this post. But my hand was stayed, and to good effect. Read on. A flock of sheep, a brace of coneys, a murder of crows. Well, there’s been a murder of crows in our garden the last couple of years. It’s usually about […]

Ringo’s Kingdom

We lost a good one last Sunday at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins. Ringo — our great Great Pyrenees — got a foot caught in the fence as in a trapper’s snare. A crappy way for a noble one to go out, and not the good death I’d always imagined for her. […]

BCS tractor review: a French kiss

This BCS tractor review involves a fateful and forceful French kiss. Read on. A BCS — “Beast” for short — is an Italian vineyard tractor with two wheels that you walk behind. Ours arrived on a truck one day last week. It’s designed for slopes and small acreage. Since it’s Italian, maybe I should say, then, […]

Tiny house gross domestic product

What’s the gross domestic product at your house? Or should I say, the grossest? Our grossest at tiny-house Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial campus of Piedmont Pine Coffins, has to do with a toothbrush. More on that below. Visitors to the farmstead sometimes ask about hot water and bathing. The calculus behind the question is, Could I do this? Could I […]

A dirty joke on me

Here’s a dirty one for you. Turn away if you must from the tail end of the cow at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial campus for Piedmont Pine Coffins. However, since readers of the GBCB tend to be open-minded, not to mention good-looking and intelligent, I expect you’ll take it all in dirty stride. But […]

The Wattlebee Project

Piedmont Pine Coffins and Melleray Farmstead had visitors Mel, Michael and Emma this past weekend from The Wattlebee Project near Adelaide, Australia. They’re on a study-travel tour of, well, the world. India and Nepal are next, part of a walkabout intended to gather ideas for a project they want to start back home that revolves around […]

Green small business on UNC-TV

As a green small business, Piedmont Pine Coffins has benefitted greatly over the last few years from programming sponsored by the Small Business Center at our local community college. So we were happy to talk about it last month with cameras from UNC-TV in Raleigh. I say “we” because half the story below is about my wife’s […]

Harvesting black walnuts

Black walnuts are my favorite free gift of Nature — even beating out morels and poke salad — here at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial manufacturing facility of Piedmont Pine Coffins. For readers joining in recently, at Piedmont Pine Coffins we make simple boxes for burial and we help families reclaim the power of caring […]

Honey Creek Woodlands

Joe Whittaker and his wife Sherry visited us this past weekend at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home of Piedmont Pine Coffins. Joe manages Honey Creek Woodlands, the conservation burial ground tucked into the woods at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, GA. The monks there are of the Christian Benedictine variety, and most […]

Bucket Bath Tiny House Style

A bucket bath in a tiny house. Hmm. As Steve Martin once said, “Let’s get small.” After moving in 2007 to an off-grid tiny house at Melleray Farmstead in North Carolina, I’ve got the 7-year itch. It’s 2014. Confess! Yes, I’m itching for a hot shower. But not that badly. Let me tell you how I […]

The garden gates of Melleray Farmstead

The garden gates at Melleray Farmstead, the cottage industrial home to Piedmont Pine Coffins, have in their design a nod to our inspiration from monks and monasteries. No, we’re not monks — we’re a small family with a unique small business — but our lives have brought us through twists and turns to an appreciation of the […]