At age 72 and 80 respectively, my mom and dad are two of the coolest people I know. They have so many interests, so much knowledge, and so many stories, that I just can’t get enough of them. My siblings and I couldn’t have asked for better parents.
My dad is a farmer and he has spent his whole life making, building and learning how to do anything that he needed. He says that it makes his life interesting, because he is always trying new things, even if he knows nothing about them. As he says, “I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none.” This weekend, just for fun, we made a list of all the possible careers he could have had (based on the skills he’s learned). We ended up with: farmer***, architect, draftsman, builder, carpenter, electrician, plumber, furnaceman, plasterer, roofer, cementer, mechanical engineer, manufacturer, welder, mechanic, inventor, gardener, pilot, musician and artist (and that’s probably missing a few).
Although my mom would say she’s not as interesting, and that “my whole life has been breakfast, lunch and dinner”, she would definitely qualify for the following: farmer***, gardener, cook, canner, teacher, bookkeeper, secretary, accountant, seamstress, lacemaker, musician, tour guide, writer and historian.
***If I put my mind to it, I could probably list another 10-20 careers that fall under the word ‘farmer’. Farmers are sort of like renaissance men. They have so much innate knowledge about the weather, land, environment, animals, nature, and everything involved with keeping their crops and livestock in good health, that it humbles me when I think about it.
Anyways, I could babble about my parents until the cows come home, but instead, I’ll focus on one thing for this particular blog post — the year my dad decided to harvest 80+ year-old trees from the shelter belt of my mom’s home farm. Some of the trees that my grandpa had planted in the late 1920′s were reaching the end of their life span and starting to fall. My dad didn’t want them to go to waste and there were no longer any businesses in the area that could come there to cut and harvest them.
So yes, at the age of 76, my dad decided to buy a sawmill. Now I’m not talking about a sawmill operation where other people would do the work. I’m talking about a one-person, portable sawmill in which my dad does everything. First he finds the wood that he wants to harvest, then he cuts it down with a chainsaw and de-limbs it, then he loads it all, hauls it home, sorts it into different lengths, runs it through the sawmill, and lifts it all up into the loft, where he stacks it to dry. It definitely helps to keep him in shape.
Dad uses a TimberKing sawmill that he can operate from the end (some models you need to walk along side while it’s cutting). He’s made several improvements to the design, all too complex to explain here, and now has it running mostly to his satisfaction (there’s still a few things he’d like to fix). He’s gone through way more saw blades than he thought, and as a result, he’s learned to saw slower. He also bought a planer, which he’s currently improving on, and once the wood is dry, intends to turn it into standard lumber cuts, log siding, flooring and v-groove wall paneling. And hopefully after all that, sell it. In what I like to call ‘Dad’s RONA’, he stocks burr oak, ash, maple, elm, poplar, aspen, spruce, willow and basswood. So let me know if you’re interested — if so, I can hook you up with the owner. I’ve got an inside connection.
ps. As you may have figured out by now, we weren’t able to take the farm photos that we expected to this weekend. It rained late Friday night, so the cultivating and seeding that my dad/brothers had planned on didn’t happen. The rain was welcome though, and once the fields dry, they’ll spend the next few weeks focusing on getting the crops into the fields.