Thursday, September 30, 2010

Filling the Woodshed

A few miles down the Edmonton road and then up a winding gravel road is an Amish-owned sawmill.
It appears to be a family-run business.
Several young men run the huge saw.
We were rather surprised to see a big forklift and other heavy equipment on the lot and being very competantly used by these men.
The "rules" which govern the modern devices and implements which Amish can have seem very arbitrary.

It is gratifying to us to be back in an area where hardwoods abound.
The mill creates 6x10's which are then pared down into pallet stock.
I don't quite understand the process, but was amazed to see that two of the young Amish women are involved in running the machinery in the smaller mill.
They move around the multi-angle saw in their long dark dresses, their hair covered with sheer white caps which tie under the chin.
The whole millyard hums with busyness.

Pallets stacked at the edge of the mill yard.

Yesterday J. hauled in a load of slabs, sliced them with the chainsaw and stashed them neatly in the small lean-to at the west end of the garage.

He built sideboards for "Snort'n Nort'n" using some planks salvaged from partitions in the tobacco barn.
We both destest the odor of cigarettes, but the smell of the old barn is warm and rich.
The dark scent clung to J's hands after he handled the lumber.
The boards are so deeply permeated from years of a tobacco crop hanging in the barn that just walking by the truck one gets a whiff.

Today there was a big pile of chunked hardwood, the off-cuts from log ends.
I helped J. to load the bed of the truck.
The pile was just up a slope from the Amish house.
A little boy's black jacket lay at the edge of the woodpile, nearly covered in sawdust.  I shook it out and hung it on a nearby stack of pallets.
It was neatly made, but I noted that rather than being of a traditional wool or heavy cotton, it was made of a synthetic fabric.
I have fingered the bolts of fabric for sale in the Amish and Mennonite stores.
Those too are polyester.
The garments made from this stuff wouldn't need to be ironed, doubtless a boon to the women, but I doubt that they are wearer-friendly.
Clothesline was wrapped around the trunk of a big cedar near the woodpile, strung to a smaller tree and then anchored to an old house which did not look as though it is presently used for living quarters.
The clean scent of the clothes dangling from the lines mingled with the pervasive odor of sawdust.
The main house is large. It appears to have three floors of living space and is probably shared by at least two generations of a family.
We bought home made butter [Jersey cream!] there on Tuesday.
The home store offers a motley selection of "salvaged goods"--think "dented cans" and such.
The girl who waited on us seemed very shy.
As we loaded wood three small boys appeared on the porch below us.
They were eating some sort of packaged sweets.
I suspect that most of the nearby Amish families are struggling with a lifestyle that is no longer farm-based, and that meals have been compromised by the addition of convenience foods.

$35.00 for the load we hauled home today!
J. is in his element.

Nort'n--a good old hard-working truck.


  1. These insights into the life of the Amish People are fascinating. I do hope that modern life can help their womenfolk in a positive way, without them having to lose the best of their old traditions.

    That looks a wonderful stockpile of wood for your winter fire.

  2. I agree with Dartford Warbler, it would be a shame for them to lose all that is best of their lifestyle. I think the farther you can be from mainstream life the better off you are. The more you can rely on yourself and your family the better things are.

  3. Wonderful post as always, Sharon. I'm surprised, in a way, that their clothing was made of polyester. I would definitely have thought cotton, but it would be a plus not to have to iron on top of everything else they do "by hand".

    I may have missed pics, but do you have a fireplace or woodburning stove? That looks like an ample wood supply for a long cold winter and Kentucky does get snow! Or, at least, it did during the 7 years we lived there.

    I miss the hardwoods. Living on a conifer tree farm, mostly Douglas Fir, I see GREEN!