P7190048.jpgOur second day with the sawmill was as fun as the first. I’m assuming we won’t always be so thrilled, but for now, I’m still documenting our progress madly. One of the things I found really interesting is that in 1995, when we were clearing for the main garden, we cut down a huge oak tree that Frank had put aside for someday when we had a sawmill. And now, eight years later, he still remembered that tree, and we used the truck to skid it over next to the sawmill and cut it up today.

Skidding it was, um, interesting because the tree was so big. We had trouble getting the truck into the new garden, and had to move some huge rocks out of the way first. I just loved the deep dark black soil that got exposed in the process — I can’t wait to garden in this spot! We had to get very good with levers, pry bars, peaveys and such to move those two huge logs into place.

But once we got it in place and found out how much wood we were going to get out of it and the great quality wood it was going to be, I reminded Frank that we need stair treads for the entrance way, and I’ve always wanted really thick oak stair treads. So we cut three 8 foot 3 x 12 boards out of it, and out of those he thinks we’ll get at least five stair treads of the thirteen plus the landing that we’ll need. All very cool. We also got another 6×6 as well, which is another step towards the raised beds. Unfortunately the exterior wood that would have made boards for furniture had rotted over the years, so it’s in the slab pile now.

We weren’t able to chip the slab yet, as the tractor’s air cleaner hose broke last weekend and he doesn’t want to risk running it without it. Hardy was out of stock, but the hose is now on the way from Master’s Farm Supply (no web site) in Florida. We had one long intermission from running the sawmill today when the blade got stuck during the last cut and came off the wheel, and since that was the first time that had happened, we had to learn how to put it back on, from a manual written only in French. That was, um, interesting, but we eventually figured it out.

Now that we have these two huge pieces of machinery, we are coming up with all sorts of additional things that we need. For one thing, skidding the logs down the driveway is not doing good things for the driveway, so Frank thinks a winch thingie for the back of the pickup would be a good thing.

[Frank here] Actually I’m still working out the best way to do this. A real PTO logging winch for the tractor would be very cool, but of course that means taking the chipper off, and still wouldn’t save the driveway. Also, we’re about to move operations over to the slope behind the house (the future rose/berry/grape area) which we cleared two years ago, and which has both firewood and sawlogs that need to come out. I do not want to skid logs up that slope with the tractor. Without a bucket full of rocks on the front, even the brush cutter is too much weight on the rear to comfortably climb the slope. So it’s pick-up skidding for the rest of the summer, anyway.

P7190058.jpgFortunately getting into that slope with the tractor won’t stay so adventurous. There’s a very obvious old road leading down the side of the swamp, which we can connect to from the new garden, which will give us a safe tractor path in and out, even if it is rather long. The road by the swamp looks like a farm road rather than a logging road. But there is an improved logging road through the new garden. As a mid-westerner, I keep getting this sense of deep time here in New England: three different use patterns in 250 years and I can see them all when I walk through the woods. But what really croggles me is that this is the new part of New England which wasn’t settled until Quebec was captured. So instead I then think of Old England.

Hey, this is a journal after all. I get to wax philosophical. [Frank off]

P7190031.jpgThe main garden is looking great, just for the record. The damage from the Japanese Beetles seems under control, but definitely there. In particular, they love the roses and the poor baby Mountain Ash trees, as well as the Cosmos. I seem to be very heavy into yellow, white and orange right now, so I definitely need to look for some other colors for mid-summer bloom. We are going down to Boston tomorrow, and I hope to find some nurseries with plant sales along the way. What a hardship to have to stop to buy more plants!

But, still. Look at this incredible shot that Frank took while we were resting up in the gazebo. I love the picture, the light, the everything, and I love that I grew all of that, and designed where everything went! We get to live here. This is my garden, my backyard. We so love it here.


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