|A large log ready to cut|
|David sharpening the huge sawblade|
The pine from Foxbard Farm had already been milled, but today he was working on cutting up hemlock for the main timbers for our farmstand. David usually steers framers away from hemlock, because of the tendency to rot. But Ernie Kelley, neighbor to the Paynes at Foxbard Farm, had a stand of beautiful hemlock trees, and he wanted them to go for a higher and better use than the bridge timbers that are the usual fate of hemlock logs. David's frustration was palpable as he showed us the hemlock logs that were beautifully straight and true, and showed no sign of rot from the butt end of the log, but then revealed rot upon sawing into the log. He estimated that even with the nice big straight trees he received from Ernie, half of the wood would be below the standards required for timber framing. He showed us one of the five large timbers that will be the purlins for our farmstand and that turned out to have dry rot along one side. That wood can still be cut up for pallet lumber, but those are much smaller pieces of wood and therefore more labor to cut, and would fetch a much lower price. I asked him if he would get 10% of the price that he could get for the larger timbers, and he said "Oh no, not nearly that much." But his perseverance did pay off and we saw four massive timbers that will form the main structure of the farmstand.
|David points out rot visible from the outside of the log|
|Our timbers are in the foreground|
industry as an endangered one. Many of his colleagues in the sawmill business are in their 80s and 90s. None of the local lumber yards buy his timber; he sells it all directly to builders. At one time, many farms had a mill onsite and derived some winter work cutting wood. David has more modern income mix: we glimpsed the edge of a 2.4 megawatt solar array up hill from the mill. It was inspiring to see one younger fellow (younger than his 80s, anyway) continuing on a New England tradition in the face of myriad difficulties, and to do our part to support his important work.