Lee Valley Tools    Woodworking Newsletter
   Vol. 7, Issue 3
   January 2013
 
   From the Archive
 

Excerpt from American Agriculturalist, Volume 39, 1880.

In the Woods in Winter
  In the woods in Winter
 
In many parts of our country the woods are scenes of great activities during the winter months. It is at this season that most of the logs for lumber are cut in the great pine forests of Maine, Michigan, and some other States, and afterwards drawn to the frozen streams, where, when the ice breaks up, they go down on the "drive", and are finally made into rafts to be floated to the mills. The life in a lumber camp is a peculiar one, and to the stranger is full of novelty. The ring of the axe, the shout of the teamster, the crash of falling trees, and the roar of the logs as they are shot down the river banks, all give, to the person unaccustomed to the clearing of a heavy forest, a strange sense of destruction, and for the moment he looks upon man as the destroyer. Nothing changes the face of the landscape so much as the disappearance of a forest, and when this is accomplished in a few short winter days, it seems almost as if some giant power had been at work: as if a whirlwind had passed, and the great trees had been swept away.

Even in the older portions of the country, where, perhaps, the sound of the pioneer's axe died away a hundred or it may be two hundred years ago, the "wood lot" is a busy place, and the seat of much of the winter's hardest work. There is the firewood to cut and draw—enough to last the family through a whole year— and a few logs of pine, or oak, or whitewood, to be drawn to the mill to furnish lumber for some new farm building, or to use in adding to or repairing an old one. There is no time like winter for doing this kind of work, and there is no labor on the farm that pays better to do in season than this. To get the year's firewood in the winter—saw and split it, and have it all well seasoned and snugly piled in a handy shed, by the time the settled weather of spring comes, is of the most importance. It is a great saving of time in the busy days of spring and summer, when there are so many things that must be done then or not at all. There is a great economy of fuel in using dry wood, and it has an important influence on the temper and happiness of the household. Sizzling fire brands and soggy wood have no tendency to develop in either man or woman saintly characteristics. Dry wood, then, is not only a means of grace, but much cheaper than that which is cut fresh from the tree when needed.

The accompanying engraving gives a view of a wood-cutting scene in winter. The hunter, who appears to have been fairly successful, is just coming up, and so quietly in the soft, freshly fallen snow, that the choppers do not hear him or his speechless, well-trained dog. The four oxen having brought their heavy load to the top of the knoll, have paused for a breath before they are urged on, either to the wood-year or to the neighboring saw-mill.
 
     
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