Before leaving Grand Marais this morning, we went on a tour of Hedstrom Lumber Mill. The wood for our timber frame was cut there (white pine harvested from northern Minnesota). I really had no idea what to expect, and consequently, I was completely blown away. If I recall correctly, we learned that they process fifty million board-feet of lumber a year. Oh, and they are a small operation!
I sincerely cannot imagine a worse hell for trees. Honestly, the mill could easily have been the set of a horror film. I forgot my sound recorder, so I was unable to document the unholy roaring and gnashing of the giant machinery as it chewed through multi-ton trees, slicing and dicing them with all the apparent ease of a paper shredder mincing a post-it note. I have a whole new respect for the embodied energy present in a stack of dimensional lumber.
It's obvious that the last nine days wouldn't have been possible without the mill (nor would quite a lot of things), but I can't help but find myself drawn to the idea of building our next house in the roundwood timber framing style. Hopefully we'll be skilled enough to give it a go using trees on our own property in a few years!