For anyone who has lived near a body of water, you know the magic feeling of serenity and peace that come from them and the depth they add to any change of season. In the summer, it offers a cooling break. During a drought, it serves as a barometer of just how dry it is and serves as a supplement of life to a thirsty garden. In the winter, you get double the cold when it ices over and during storms, you get to watch the wind. It brings added color to life, but also an added responsibility and demand for respect. 

As part of living and working on a small rural homestead, our next project is to make the small pond more healthy, attractive and productive.  It had been neglected for a few years before we moved to the area and we're starting to work it out of the forgotten state and create a fishery that is also inviting for summer swims. The initial cleaning crew, six grass carp, just arrived recently and Lee, the dogs and I welcomed them to the neighborhood with a small parade across the dam.


The Apalachicola River was recently named America's #1 Most Endangered River.


A little bit about the situation: 
The Apalachicola River plays an important role in the health of not only the world famous oyster beds, but the entire Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. Over the past few decades there has been an ongoing "water war," a dispute mostly between the state of Georgia and Florida since the majority of the flood plane that flows to the gulf by way of the Apalachiocola River is located in Georgia. The river's nourishing freshwater is the foundation of a vast and diverse ecology in a region of the southern United States many of us call home and many more enjoy as our playground throughout the year. The freshwater that runs south to the ocean has decreased as metropolitan cities like Atlanta and big agriculture take their toll. When freshwater is restricted and salinity increases, conchs, blue crab and other predators move into the delicate estuary and feast upon the many species (including oysters, bait fish, anchovies & grouper) that reproduce there, in the calm where fresh and salt water meet.

This area is in decline and still recovering from the 2012 drought that was made worse by Georgia’s actions to hoard water. As a native Floridian now living in Georgia, this is a particularly painful truth. Education, awareness, and advocacy, along with the self discipline to individually curb water consumption are necessary to preserve and restore this exceptional habitat.The Apalachicola Riverkeeper is an organization devoted to protecting this area and promoting awareness. If you like eating fresh gulf seafood, then supporting the River’s advocates, conserving water usage and spreading the word is necessary.  If you’re a Georgia resident, consider writing your state congressional delegation encouraging them to reconsider their position on freshwater flow to the gulf and to start working with Florida to protect this beautiful place. Heartwood Forge is committed to preserving this treasure, so we’re donating 10% of the proceeds from the sale of each KH-850 Shucker, designed in collaboration with Bryan Rackley of Kimball House in Atlanta, to the Apalachiocola Riverkeeper. Working together we believe we can affect change and believe that it is each individual’s responsibility to stand up for our environment.

Make a donation to the Riverkeeper here.

When the knife guy met the oyster guy: a story about the world's most perfect oyster shucker

Kimball House co-owner Bryan Rackley shucks literally thousands of oysters a month, but he couldn't seem to find a good-looking oyster knife that actually worked. Enter Heartwood Forge's Will Manning: master craftsman and fellow obsessive. After an exhaustive collaborative process, they've come up with the KH-850: perhaps (finally) the world's most perfect oyster shucker.

Click here to see the rest of the story on The Lovelist!