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We had quite a few logs ready for milling back in the fall and had even booked the sawyer. Then the first week of November the snow started. It has been a great winter for snow, not so much for milling logs. Most of the winter the logs were completely buried. So spring is here the snow is gone and Dad and I spent a good portion of the last two days cutting down trees and pulling them out of the bush.

Yesterday we took out a good sized ash tree, including one of the biggest logs that we have ever pulled. Today we dropped a dead butternut tree that fortunately was still solid. It yielded three good logs and one so-so log.

Declan on the logs.

So at this point we have thirty-eight logs ready to be milled, including yellow birch (1), elm (1), ash (23), maple (3), cedar (5), butternut (3) and chestnut (2).

Declan on the logs.

We're planning on dropping some beech, poplar, ironwood, hickory, ash, black cherry, basswood and cedar this spring. We only drop trees that are in decline or dead, we try and get them before rot sets in, but it's tricky, some species rot from within (like poplar) so by the time they look ready to take they're already hollow. Our best guess is that in addition to the logs we'll mill this spring we'll have another thirty to forty to mill in the fall.

Declan stands between ash and cedar logs.

The logs are rolled up onto scrap wood to keep them off the ground, but this is a temporary storage solution. Hopefully we haven't lost any logs to rot over the winter. We're planning long term storage for air drying the lumber. Even with access to a kiln the wood should be air dried for at least six months. Some of the wood (mostly the ash) we'll air dry for a couple of years so that we can use it for steam bending.


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We had Rick Allen back with his sawmill this weekend. As you may recall we had a few logs to cut up. Well all those logs are gone. We don't know how many logs we milled yesterday, but today we milled 18 logs. We managed to stack and sticker more than half of that as well.

The Mill at work.

We were lucky in having two very nice days to work. Neither too hot or too cold, sunny but cloudy enough to cool things off, and a nice breeze. It rained everywhere all around us, but except for 15 minutes on Saturday, never on us.

The mill at work.

We started on Saturday with our Cedar - that's a Cedar log on the mill in the picture above. We were looking to cut both 1" and 2" stock, one inch for panelling inside the house and 2" for decking outside. By our count we have more than enough wood for all of our new inside walls, and enough to build both the south and east decks. As I mentioned before, we'll probably be building the south deck this year, and the east deck next year.

Dad sitting on the ash.

The big news though is that we think we have enough wood to cover most, if not all, of the interior ceilings. Now the drawback is that unless we find a nearby kiln willing to rent space, or build our own, we won't be able to use the wood for about two years. That's how long it can take to air dry wood. That's Dad sitting on one of our stickered stacks. He's sitting on 1" ash, and his feet are on 2" Cedar. The bulk of the ceiling would be Ash, with borders of Black Cherry, Basswood, Butternut, and Yellow Birch.

Nicley stickered wood, the results of two hard days work.

Black Cherry on the left, and Basswood just behind. Black Cherry is very hard, has a beautiful grain, and smells fantastic when cut. It's not a very common wood and we probably have fewer than fifty Black Cherry trees on the land. We only cut down dead trees.

Basswood is very soft, very white and has almost no grain. Most people consider it a garbage wood, and it's primarily used by wood turners to make bowls and such. We took this tree because it had split in a wind storm and it was either harvest the tree or watch it rot where it stood. We only cut it up because it was very large.

Nicely stickered wood the results of two hard days work.

This stack is mostly a mix of 1" Cedar and 1" Ash. We have a lot of Ash on the property and it's time for some of the larger ones to be harvested. We have two more that we'll be bringing down soon, both should yield about four logs. Ash is very strong, and has a nice grain. Some call it 'the poor man's Oak', but I like it better than Oak.


This is Butternut, one of my favorite woods. We don't have very much Butternut on the land at all, and by volume most of it is in three huge trees that are so old and decrepit that there's no point in even dropping them. I like Butternut for it's rich brown colour and pleasing grain.

Cedar Maple Yellow Birch and Ash

From left to right, Eastern White Cedar, Maple (Spalted and Quilted), Yellow Birch, and Ash. This is the first Yellow Birch that Dad and I have ever cut, or even seen in board form. Rick says it's pretty rare. I have a whole bunch of it, including several trees so large that I can't even get my arms around them. The sap wood is a lovely yellow colour and the heartwood is very red. It is a beautiful wood and we have one more piece in the bush to pull out.

Nicley stickered wood, the results of two hard days work.

This is the slash pile. As the logs are squared, and when you hit rot all the scrap is thrown into this (actually these) pile(s). Because we hope to use as much of the tree as we possibly can we have three piles, softwoods and hardwoods are separated, hardwoods can be cut up and burned in our wood stove (to be installed this year, we seem to have agreed on Morso - well that's the concensus right now anyway). Softwoods that have any scraps of dimensional lumber on them will be cut up and used for steps on bridges on trails, and the rest will go to neighbours to use in their maple syrup evaporators. Anything that is left will be tossed into the bush to rot.

Modern Smoke Detector

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Now here's a smoke detector I'd love to have in my house! Not your typical ugly white box.

It fits flush with the ceiling and is held in place with magnets.

Now they just need to create a carbon monoxide detector and we'll be oh so modern and to code!

The smoke detector is from Architectural Devices. Who apparently maybe have a product (if they aren't just .... ahem ... blowing smoke), but no real website.

[via: Core77 Design Blog]


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As much as possible we have tried to use wood off our own land inside the house. The inside and outside walls of the bathroom are cedar milled from trees on our land, as are the maple window and door frames.

Before we started the house we marked 102 trees and sold them to a logger. They had a big machine that carried out the logs, and that could navigate nearly anywhere. Before the job was over we traded them an additional ten maple trees in exchange for taking down and cutting into 12' sections 6000 board feet of white cedar. White cedar are difficult trees to drop because their branches come directly off the trunk and run from the ground up. They can be very dangerous when they fall. The trees are also problematic because, unlike most hardwoods you can't tell if the tree is any good until you've dropped it. White cedar, like Poplar, tend to rot from the inside out. We were very lucky, it turned out that most of the trees they cut were very good. The boards we got from those cedars built a deck on the back of Dad's house, and most of the walls of his garage. It was the leftovers that went into our bathroom.

Over time, walking around the land, we started finding sections of trees that had been left in the bush. Good trees, on the sides of hills, in gullies, even out in the open. We pulled eleven oak and maple sections, all solid, at least 18" in diameter, and about 12' long, out of the north west corner a couple of years ago. We had them milled and have just come to the end of the maple.

Recently Dad and I have managed to pull out two pieces of black cherry, five really nice pieces of ash, and a bunch of oak from the south east corner of the property. The main section of ash was 22' long and 18" in diameter and had fallen across a small gully with a creek in the bottom. There were tracks from the logger's big machine but they couldn't seem to get close enough to grab the logs. We pulled them up from the other direction, up a very steep hill using a pulley and my truck. While we were down there we found two more pieces of ash and several sections of oak. We're also going to drop a couple of cedars from the same area.

In addition to this wood we've also cut up and dragged out two poplar trees that were solid, but had blown down in a wind storm. We've also been marking and dropping ceadrs from other parts of the land. The various hardwoods we're going to cut up into 1" planks, possibly for use on our ceilings. The cedar we're going to cut into 2" stock that will be used to build decks on the south and east sides of the house.

Four of the cedar trees that we took down were just below the house near where we park the cars. They were taller than any of the trees around them and spoiled the view to the south east. With them gone the whole view from the front door is greatly improved. How much? Well check the pictures and see for yourself.

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