“Then grab your gun and bring in the cat.”

Nothin’ but the rain to be heard outside this morning. To quote a friend’s recent observation, “40 degrees and raining in Fairbanks. In October.” I must admit it is odd. Something I have been fond of saying lately is that winter is sneaking around out there somewhere but seems hesitant for some reason.

Anyways. Not the best building weather, but I will have to get to it at some point regardless. This time of year there is always so much to be done, whether you are upside down on some damn fool building project or not. The threat of winter imposes a certain frantic desperation to get everything ready…or at least organized. Calvin lost a quarter in the snow once and unlike him, I am unwilling to get out there with a hairdryer to look for it. Do not even have a hair dryer. Do not have too many quarters though either. So prior to the snow flying anything that matters needs to be in it’s right place lest it be unobtainable until spring and depending on what it is you might not want it anymore by then. So for me this means making sure all of the tools are put away; or at the very least cast haphazardly into the shed until they can get organized. It also means dealing with all of the building materials that have been staged around the property. Thankfully all of my gravel work is done so I can stop beating that dead horse.

Now, some of you –pending that anyone but me is reading this- might ask why building materials would be staged around the property. Well I mentioned once that I had this great idea to build a timber frame using timbers milled from the logs that were once the trees that stood on my property. Logs tend to be a bit heavy and so while I did not simply leave them where they lay, neither did I attempt to consolidate them into one enormous pile. Rather I gathered them into smaller stacks, dictated primarily by my ability to move them…by myself. Unfortunately that was happening about this time last year and if you will recall the earlier message I tried to get across, this time of year tends to be a bit hectic. So, there I am with a peavey (a big stick with a metal spike and hook attached to one end, made for moving logs) a couple of small poles for leverage and bracing, a few wooden rollers made from small, peeled tree sections, and a pair of leather gloves.

What I ultimately ended up with was three large piles of logs which I covered under big blue tarps. Due to the simple nature of the exercise (and the operator) I did not give much thought to the order or organization of said logs within the piles, I just had to get them stacked and covered. So, when spring rolled around this year and I needed to start thinking about making those logs magically become framing timbers I had to undo what I had done. So there I am pondering these haphazard stacks of logs wondering where the ones I really need might be. It was like some grand Sisyphean easter egg hunt. Out come the peavey, rollers, and leather gloves once again.

Over the course of the winter, the logs did not become any lighter but they still had to be milled. One option to achieve this end would be to bring in some large machinery, load up the logs onto a truck, drive them to a mill, and have the timbers brought back. Perfectly reasonable really, but not exactly what I had in mind, I am an idealist remember. So another option is to bust out the broad axe and adze and hew them all by hand. Idealist or not, that seemed a bit extreme –appealing to be sure- but extreme nonetheless. I do have a full time job that I keep having to show up at. Clearly some middling scenario had to be contrived. I had known for many years about this great device called the Alaskan mill. It attaches to a chainsaw. I have two different versions now, but that is a story for later.

Anyways, over the course of the summer most of the logs got milled –not all by me and not all with a chainsaw- but still more or less in place. So to bring this back around, I now have stacks of timbers, under big blue tarps- staged around the property. They are a bit lighter than logs, but not by much. I have been working on consolidating these into one enormous pile…by myself. The rollers and the leather gloves still get a lot of use, but the peavey is just too crude and vicious of a tool for these delicate timbers. So I use various types of fulcrums instead. The rise of the simple machines.

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