Lumbering up

Wandering down the lumber aisle of the Home Depot, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that everything there was once a living, growing thing. By the time it’s milled, processed, and cut, it bears little resemblance to the tree whence it came.

I’m not particularly sentimental about trees. They shade our vegetable garden, cover our property with leaves, and threaten to fall on our house. But they also oxygenate the air, furnish hospitable homes for the neighborhood bald eagles, and provide much-needed cover for our trips to the outdoor shower. All in all, the world’s a better place for having them.

We’ve cut down several trees over the last year, and will probably cut down more over the next, but we don’t do it lightly. You don’t have to be a tree sap to think twice before you cut down something that took fifty years to grow. I respect my trees.

That’s why I like buying lumber from the R.D. Williams sawmill in Carver, Massachusetts. You never forget where it came from.

R.D. Williams sells only rough-sawn pine, and the saw is right there in the yard, with trees going in one side and lumber coming out the other. In between is some scary-looking equipment that transforms the giant logs into the raw material for, say, a chicken coop – to pick an example at random.

The wood is fresh, damp, and heavy, and you get pine sap on your hands when you handle it. But it looks beautiful, the dimensions are true – a two-by-four is two whole inches by four whole inches – and our friends who have built with it say it lasts forever.

Our chickens, ungrateful little things, are oblivious.