The work we do as farmers is generating value from the things that are devalued by our society. Dirt isn’t dirt, but the medium to grow our sustenance. A dumpster can often be a trove of re-useful building materials. In the case of the pines on our property, they could be viewed as a liability. They shadow our house and field and threaten our outbuildings with their majesty. They produce a beautiful dappled light at sunset, but they fill our pond with acidifying needles. When exploring our options for the pine grove we consulted professionals. A few conversations demoralized us as the pine is virtually worthless to the lumber industry and even the process of turning it all to chip would cost more than a small fortune for cash-strapped farmers.
We have always been gluttons for punishment when it comes to adding new dimensions to the giant DIY project that is Sweet Acre Farm.
So, here is where we stand: Since the days in 2006 working in the Adirondacks I have been interested in timber framing. I worked for timber framers the winter after our 2012 farming season, but had not done the work on my own until this year. Last fall I began the felling process on our land, starting with the trees whose absence would allow us to put up more permanent fencing for our goats (and future sheep?). Once approximately 20 of the giants were on the ground, we hired Dennis from Terrific Timbers to bring his portable sawmill to the property. The timbers were cut to the correct lengths and custom milled to generate all the “members” needed for a 12’x16′ shed. The on-going work this winter is cutting all the mortise & tenon joinery in order to erect the building this spring. Besides the timbers, the milling process also generated enough 1″ siding for this building and many others, scrap lumber for our endless other building projects, and 100 tomato stakes for the upcoming season.
We are excited to be able to transform this “liability” of the pines into a valuable building. Using the materials from the property will contribute aesthetically to the feeling that it, too, “grew” from the property. I am lucky to have friends interested in this old time tradition of building, and willing to help out in various ways. While the work now is slow and a little lonely, I am eagerly looking forward to the communal process of raising the building.
And we’ll keep you posted!