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Running “The Mill”

the Silver Strider onlinpresents 


 brought to you by

route 16


Route 16 Run and Walk Shoe Store
6745 Kimball Drive, Gig Harbor


………..Running “The Mill”


By Patty Husko   


The COVID-19 pandemic has given us more time to get much needed work done on our property. The running has stopped and the hard work had begun. The cardio workout was at a minimal while our strength workout has increased at a much more intense degree. With social distancing  in play we took a long walk throughout our 20 acres of which 17 acres is an evergreen forest. We discovered many trees blown down by the winter winds. This discovery means much work for the two of us. We do all the steps that are required for a tree to become boards, which we’ll use in our future building projects. Starting by cutting limbs off the downed trees. Then cutting the trees into lengths of 8, 16, and 26 foot long logs. With the forks on our backhoe we carried these heavy logs to our (Husko, one man, one woman) sawmill to cut into boards.

Taking logs to cutting deck

At the sawmill we stacked the logs on skids.

logs ready to mill

We have always loved our trees. We don’t cut them down unless they are dead or need to be removed to create space for building. While on our walk we had also checked the trees for dead tops. By cutting down a dead tree we can salvage the tree before it succumbs to rot or insects. We found a half dozen such trees, giving us more work. With a sharp chainsaw, wedges, and a heavy maul we headed out to cut down the trees.

Steve cut down a 175 foot tree

Once the trees were cut down the same process took place as on the blown down trees.

Next step in producing usable lumber is to take the time to do some needed maintenance on the sawmill. We built a new wooden walkway for the green chain and did some welding repairs.

Steve welding on the sawmill

We sharpened the saw teeth, greased the log carriage, checked out the diesel cat motor, added fuel to the tank, checked the sawdust conveyor, and numerous other checks.

Returning the sharpened saw blade

After all this was completed we loaded the log deck with some of the 67 logs we now had, to cut into boards.

Our sawmill operation is a lot of upper body physical work on both ends of the mill. Steve is the sawyer, who has to decide what dimensions to cut. He loads the carriage with a log. Then runs the carriage  past the 52 inch circular saw, cutting the first slab off the side of the log. The slab falls onto the roll case, then he brings the carriage back. I’m the green chain puller. My job is to take the slab off the roll case and stack it in a pile on skids on the ground.

These slabs can be very heavy depending on the size of the log.

Patty stacks 18 foot 4 x 12’s

While I move the slab Steve uses a peevey to turn the smaller logs.

Steve using the peavey on a smaller(?) log

If it is a big log he has to use the backhoe forks to help in the turning. Putting the flat side down against the carriage another pass is made. After having 4 flat sides the process continues until the cant is cut into lumber dimensions. With me pulling each piece and stacking into the appropriate piles. The piles are slabs to be cut later into firewood, re-saw to remove any wane, and the finished product. We cut boards into 1×4’s, 1×6’s, 2×4’s, 2×6’s, and many other dimensions as needed.

This time we also cut 8 x 12’s that were 26 foot long for an upcoming project.

8 x 12 – 26 feet long

Now that all of the 67 logs are cut into lumber it’s time to stack them until they are used. The boards are stacked with spacers between each layer under our shop lean-to. This allows for air flow between the boards, drying them, and eliminating the possibility for mold to form.

Lumber stacked with spacers for drying

Our work produced 221 boards of varies dimensions.

One would think our work was done. But not so fast. We both put on our crew cleanup hats. There was sawdust, loose bark, and the slabs to get rid of before cutting logs again. Cutting  wood creates a lot of sawdust.

Saw blade (on left) drops sawdust onto the conveyor belt which deposits sawdust into a pile

The sawdust was loaded into the backhoe bucket and dumped in low areas in our field. The loose bark was raked up and dumped in a pile in the field to be burned later.

The slabs were cut up and given to a neighbor for her winter firewood.

Patty saving slabs for her neighbor

To accomplish the next step we headed back into the woods. All the limbs previously cut from the trees were picked up and loaded onto the backhoe forks. This was not heavy back breaking work but the bending down does wear on your back. Taking numerous loads to the field, three huge burn piles were created to be burned on different days.

Patty takes debris to a burn pile

Stumps that could be removed without disturbing the root systems of nearby standing trees were dug up and pulled out. The stumps were then placed on the top of one of the burn piles.

Luckily we did not have to wait long for a light ran/ heavy dew to make the grass and the nearby trees damp.

We were up before the fog lifted and lit a fire under one of the burn piles. Staying close by all day we were able to continue to add fuel to the fire. We did general forest floor cleanup near our house. When you live in the middle of trees there are always limbs that break off during the winter.

By the time night fell the burn pile was reduced to considerably smaller stumps and coals. Working on the burn pile for about 14 hours straight we were finally able to take a much needed break. We had roasted hot dogs and s’mores, a Husko family tradition with our burns.

By morning the pile was still smoldering with very little left of the stumps. You may ask on the second and third burn piles did we have the hot dogs and s’mores? Well of course. Wasn’t that the only reason for all this hard work and having three burn piles?

Our next project will be to take down a patch of trees for a building site. But until then it’s back into logging in some much needed running miles.

With NODM becoming a Silverstrider virtual race we are training again. I guess we just needed Silver Striders to get us motivated.

Steve back in training


Our Log Ride is more exciting than Disneyland’s





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