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Mad Respect For Pioneers

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Up in Minnesota at our lake place, we do a lot of the hard labor ourselves.  This summer, I built a floating dock.  It’s six feet by sixteen feet.  The dock my grandfather built back in 1972 finally failed. I will reuse his dock somewhere else.  A bridge I built back in the late 70s or early 80s is failing.  Here is the dock.

We put a well in one of the cabins this year.  When they drilled the well, they had to cut down a couple of maple trees.  Last fall, I bucked and split one.  I told them to save the tree for me and I’d cut it up for firewood.  I don’t know if you have ever had the experience of cutting up maple, but it is a super dense hardwood.  This is what they looked like when I started in on them with my chainsaw.

It took a long time to buck the logs.  I hauled them next to our splitter to be split with the birch my neighbor cut up and I hauled earlier this spring.

It used to be we didn’t have electricity or actual dependable running water up here.  We used solar power and got our water off a gravity-fed spring.  That worked for short bursts of time but is really unsustainable if you want to spend a consistent amount of time here.  Prior to our installation of electricity and one gig fiber to our door if you wanted electricity you turned on a generator.  There is only one cabin on the lake with a generator left.

We use wood to heat our small places up here when it is cold.  Our cabins are not winterized.  I have at least one more downed maple and birch to cut up yet.  I need to find a downed northern white cedar to cut up for kindling.  You really appreciate a gas-powered splitter when you power it up and split a couple of cords of wood.

When I was doing all this, I thought about people like President Ulysses S. Grant.  After he left the Army, he chopped and sold firewood in St. Louis to support his family.  He had no other way to make a living.  Can you imagine cutting down trees with an ax?  Can you imagine bucking the log and splitting the wood after you cut the tree down?

I cut a pine tree down with an ax once.  It was around five or six inches in diameter.  I appreciate the experience but I won’t be doing it again.

People back in those days were physically stronger than we are today.  It is said President Lincoln had a firm handshake.  He was experienced with an ax.  You can see why.  All the historical people you read about prior to 1900 knew how to ride a horse.  They knew hardship for the most part and they knew hard physical labor.

We lift weights and work out at the gym today, but it’s not the same.

I couldn’t imagine buying some land and having to clear it by hand in order to plant crops that I was going to live in and harvest them….by hand.  Of course, you could use horses, but it was still super hard backbreaking work.  Just so you could survive.  Not to mention home births and all the rest.  It’s amazing man survived on earth all these years.

Somehow I don’t think the manufactured crises that are constantly in the news will eliminate man from the earth.

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