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    My name is Elisa and I am the owner, along with my husband Todd, of Belcher Hollow Forge. We operate a metal and wood shop in the hamlet of Belcher in upstate N.Y. Mostly farming takes place here and there's most likely more cows than people. Perfect. Our shop is housed in the original barn on the property that was built in the 1860's. We have modernized and expanded it but it still has the original timber frame and charm.

   I have been in the metal working business for over 20 years, 15 of which I have been a partner in our business. Up until now we have primarily been a custom shop specializing in railings, furniture, firescreens and lighting, as well as, large scale custom scenic fabrication for many ballets, operas and amusement parks. I implement traditional blacksmithing along with modern metalworking techniques. Todd, along with working in the metalshop, specializes in fine woodworking, cabinetmaking and timber framing. We moved to Belcher in 2004 from Minneapolis, MN.

     Having a shop in a rural area means you get to know your neighbors. Along with the clients we've been lucky enough to meet, comes the weekly drop-ins from our neighbors: local farmers, woodsmen and passers-by. Conversations at our shop often take place in the road where cars pass every hour or two. The talks are friendly, slow and have multiple long silences, they're not awkward, just a way to spend more time with the neighbors. Our social life picked up when we moved from Minneapolis to Belcher. In the city you often know none of your neighbors, even when you live right on top of them. You meet people with common interests at places like bars, concerts and galleries. In the country, you see the people you already know at these places. The thing you have in common is your small community. It seems the farther apart we live, the stronger the pull to be close. We depend on our neighbors for things like food, work and emergency services. You accept the help and you help in return. Whether it be growing food, milking cows or fighting house fires, everyone does their part. If they didn't, it would be very hard and very lonely.

     Having a furniture shop in a rural area means no lack of inspiration. Our home and shop are in a hollow in the woods. The birds, animals, trees and plant life are a constant source of joy and wonder. The sounds in the morning are warm and welcoming. The sounds during the day are often machinery; farming, construction. The cacophony of the animal life just before nightfall is almost deafening. The noises after dark: owls, coyotes or complete and utter silence. Our days are filled with shop work, yard work and long walks with the dogs. You can hike for miles in any direction from our home. We no longer drive somewhere to go hiking or camping. We do it every day. There is no more beautiful place to work, hike, bike or ride a motorcycle. Or live.

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