Almost everyone has heard the saying “Its in ya blood”.  The person who has worked on the farm all his life. When he no longer runs the farm, he still slows down and looks at other operating farms. The thoughts and feelings still pull him back to those days back when. Driving a logging truck or working in the woods is not much different.  Spring is just around the corner. You have hauled logs and pulp to the landings making ready for the spring run-off. All of this has now gone by for the time and summer is upon us. As you, the logger walk through the woods, you take note of how many harvestable trees that grow on the land.  You take note of just how you can harvest the wood and not damage the land. Things such as location of the wet land, location of large rocks, how steep the hills are. All of this comes into play as you casually stroll around in the forest. As one who now makes unique furniture out of these trees, I now walk through the forest eyeing trees as “what can I make out of that knot” “what can I do with that twisted mangled root?” Got to wait until the snow is gone so I can get it out of the woods.  The snow is too deep right now. When spring gets here, we can then walk the woods and pick up pieces of art created by Mother Nature.

   The weather dictates quite a bit just what one can do in the woods. If there was a lot of snow and the spring rains saturate the ground too much, then we would have to wait until the land dried and became workable again.  It was during my spring vacation when I was 8 years of age that I started working with the horses. At first, it was just the normal spring work. We would not do a lot of hauling across the fields because it would tear up the grass and not be good for haying. But there were tasks we could do.  A horse is not much different than any muscular animal, Yes even men. You don’t just go from treading in the deep snow collecting the spring sap to cutting trees and hauling out logs. We didn’t have those new-fangled taps with lines but had the old spiles with buckets and had to go empty then into a main tank.  

    After the sap gathering was done, we then repaired all the sleds and harnesses. Living on the farm and working the horses, there was no off season. There were not many vacation days.  For me, it was a good thing working the horses and hauling trees stems out into the field to be cut into pulp by the older men. They had crosscut saws, and when it worked, one of those new two men chain saws.  When I could, it was also my job to pile the pulp into long rows so we could see just how much wood we had ready for the truck. It was not uncommon to handle each stick of pulp 5 times before you were finally done with it.  You would always try to handle the largest stick you could just to justify getting paid that twenty-five cents an hour. But then getting paid did not always work either. The truck broke down, the chainsaw needed parts, or something else always came first. I was indeed the low one on the totem pole.  It is interesting to note here that the woodsman was considered the lowest worker of workers until the coming of the one man saw when he could cut and haul his own wood. It is also interesting to note that Maine used to be the axe capitol and lumber producing capitol of the world.

    As the years came and went, I worked many times doing different jobs in the lumber producing industry. There was almost always a job in the woods.  If there was no one hiring in the woods, then one could find work at one of the many sawmills in the area. At one time Rangeley had five mills that produced all grades of lumber and cedar shingles.  There was almost always the need for that mill which would produce the odd articles such as 54inch railroad ties, or square stock to make spindles. If you worked hard and proved you knew what you were doing, you could work up to getting paid $3.50 an hour.  This was a big jump compared to those men that got paid $1.65 per day in the 20’s. Most of the time though, when men had their own chainsaw, they would get paid per cord. One did not get rich, but the kids did not want for food either.

   Working the woods with your own chainsaw and using a company skidder, was a very dangerous job. Almost every cutter I know had stories of almost getting planted by a widow maker or just narrowly missed getting cut with the saw. These stories you did not tell the family because it would only make them worry if you were coming home that night. Now a widow maker was many things, it could be a dead tree ready to fall that you didn’t notice.  It could be a sapling that got bent over when you landed a tree. It could be a tree that just would not fall properly. You always had to pay attention and watch out for the widow makers.

   For a time in my life, I worked at a desk job, white shirt and tie job. But it just was not my style of work.  I became very disappointed in people. While in the woods, it was just you and the tree. If things did not go right, you could cuss and swear all you wanted, but with people, one had to be nice.   

  So, you see folks, it is in my blood that I walk the woods. Some of my ancestors were Mic Mac and that only deepens the desire to be outside with Mother Nature. She can be mean, she will teach you lessons, but she will also show you pictures that only you will see.  You will stop and stare before moving through that scene or scaring those young fawns, because once you move, the scene is no longer the same. That moment, that picture, was just for you.

Ya all have a nice day now.