Farm Girl

I grew up as a true farmer’s daughter. My father and I trained 5 horses together, I have helped herd horses, milk cows, gather chicken eggs, slaughter pigs, and clean deer meat to name a few. Some of my favorite memories from the farm were when my family was building our log home, and I was assigned to helping at the saw mill on the weekends and over summer break.

The mill was old, designed by my grandfather (a rancher and inventor)… under the tin roof sat a huge saw blade, with an imposing diameter of 4 feet. The 3 inch teeth made it look like the grossly enlarged blade of a circular saw. In Grandpa’s wisdom, the best way to turn the blade was to rig it to the engine and chassis of his old 1955 International truck. He dismantled everything so all that sat inside a shack was a beefy, greasy engine with the exhaust piped up through the roof. It was so fun to watch Dad and Grandpa work on the machine. It started up with truck key that started the engine when it was in a 12-gauge metal body. To move the chain drive, you simply shifted out of neutral into 1st gear, and the blade would spin. Shift into second gear and the track with massive trees on steel skids would drive forward, and the woodchips would fly!

Being the innovative thinker he was, my grandfather even built a wood chip conveyer system. The chips were caught below the spinning blade, and v-shaped shovels scooped everything up and out through the back of the mill, and dumped the sawdust into a seeding machine that was pulled by an old farm tractor. When the seeding machine was full, we would drive the tractor up and down the dirt roads, “seeding” the sawdust in a layer upon layer over the powder-fine dirt. With rain & snow, the chip layers got thick to the texture of a soft pavement and soon there were no dust problems along the roads near the farm, just a soft, quiet layer of saw chips. The solution before the sawdust was to pour a layer of canola oil on the roads, which would wash away with weather.

The mill was dirty, it was loud, but God did it smell so good! In the springtime the wood was moist from trees drinking up spring rain, and the fresh cutting would spatter all of us with the juices. In the fall the trees were dry and fragrant, leaving our clothes with a hint of pine scent even after washing them. Every piece lumber was rough-cut (visible splinters) and later plained (to slightly smooth things out), but solid and straight, and made by the hands of my relatives. The family home was built from the trees on our land, and the beams were cut with the help of my mother & father, grandmother & grandfather, aunt, uncle, cousins, and me.

After having put so much into building a home makes buying a ready-made place seem too easy. I adore the home my husband and I live in now, but I hope the next time around, we create a place that is as much of a labor of love as the home where I grew up.


Anonymous writer said...

Nice story. I spent half my childhood at the timber yard because my dad was always buying timber and most of the other half in the shed where he built things from the timber he bought. The smell of freshly milled timber is one I will always remember. It takes me right back to childhood.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Debra said...

You've got me beat a thousand times over... I'm envious. :)

2:09 PM  

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