Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Meanwhile, Back in the Woods

There was no way we could have made the Linton project happen if it was not that Bud also held reign on a hollow a few miles away. Brush Creek Hollow. It was back at the end of the hollow he lived and worked. Once you leave the back road asphalt and drive on dirt ruts about a mile and a quarter, forde a creek along the way, you get there. Once you get there, you will quickly lose track of what day it is. You step out of time. Bud's shack is a simple abode. Instinct has its own sense of architecture.

The back of the shack sat on a bluff about 12 feet deep down to Brush Creek. Made it handy to wash up, clean squirrel meat, or baptize somebody. To my knowledge, the last of these never occurred.

A simple interior with wood stove. A chair Bud made. A sculpture by Whidler.

Just across from Bud's shack was an abandoned structure. Someone's home long ago. There are many stories and legends about the presence of Jessie James in this part of the country. Some say he holed up in this hollow. It wouldn't surprise me. the area is still full of outlaws of one kind or another.

The sawmill sat down from Bud's shack, along Brush Creek. It began with the chassis of a school bus. Atop the chassis sat a band saw on an angle iron track. It could move along the track, and slice a 20' log up into whatever thicknesses we desired.

Another of Bud's boats sits near the sawmill. I think he mede more boats than he had time to sail. Meanwhile, his horse Dick seems to be wandering down to the creek for a cool drink.

And there were goats everywhere we didn't want them to be. Good milk, though.

A night shot. There has never been a sawmill quite like this one. Hand-made from start to finish.

At first, we dragged logs to the mill with a tired and humble John Deere. Still, there was the task of trying to get the log from the ground up onto the mill. Major grunts were required. If you didn't have grit, your name was shit. Somehow, we managed.

When push comes to shove, you have to improvise. Yankee ingenuity comes into play. Like this home-made rig that could actually lift the log to the mill plane with an improvised boom. Still, it is 'Watch your fingers, watch your toes." I don't know if you have ever been around a sawmill, but almost invariably you will find one or more people missing fingers.

Once we got a Kubota, we were able to improve our operations. We could put a shovel on the front end, and temporarily dam the creek, so as to make a washing pool for our logs.

Whidler wades the Kubota out to pick up wet logs. Wet logs lose their bark easier. Rocks and dirt embedded in the bark get washed out. It is easier to eyeball the log for any signs of nails or wire that might break the mill's blade. ( Many trees have embedded metal because of signs once tacked onto them, fences once attached to them, etc. It is best to find these before they find you.)
Suddenly, life got easier. It is a noble thing to do things the hard way when there is no choice. But, even living in this kind of rustic environment, if you can get your hands on a machine, you will. And your back will thank you. the Kubota made it easier for us to crank out boards. With more wood available to work with, our productivity went up.


  1. Sorry about dust particles and floating hair (my dog's) on these pics. They are just 35mm prints I am pulling out of dusty boxes. And did I bother to clean them? Hell, no!

  2. I love all these old shots.
    I can just imagine being there with you guys. It's right down my alley :)

  3. Come on down, Nicole....we'll put you to work! : )