Farm Follies

An Era’s End

About a week ago, a crashing noise at 3 AM caused my husband to leap from bed and run outside. At least that is what he told me, and I have to trust him as since summer began my sleep has resembled more of that of a coma victim than the skittish animal that I normally mirror.

That early morning Xandy found the saw mill had finally fallen over.

I took in a quick breath of air when he told me. He responded intuitively with, “Don’t worry, Hon. No cows. No kids. We are all good.”

Over the past few years every time my husband and his father went to set a log to “prop up” the mill, which with each successive year has looked more like the Leaning Tower of Pisa than a sturdy building, we would discuss the fact that the cows liked to hang out in its shade and were prime targets for a collapse.

“And what happens when Kitt gets older and she takes her cousins down to play?”

“Hopefully they can outrun a falling building.”

“Not funny.”

Now those points are moot. The building is down. And out of respect I thought I would spend a bit of time talking about the history of it since we are all a bit saddened by its loss.

The building was constructed in the early 1950s by Charles Orman Brown (affectionately known as “Orm”), my father-in-law Mark’s grandfather and the Brown that purchased this farm. A Lane #2 left-handed sawmill built in the late 1880s or 90s made up the “guts” of the building, and chopped off more than one finger I am told. Mark and Xandy both have all of their fingers, a miracle really as there is NO WAY this thing was OSHA approved. The place was perfect to film a bloody horror flick, big open saw blade and all.

Inside Sawmill
The inside of the mill pre-collapse


Orm, a machinist by trade and owner of a foundry in a neighboring town, used the mill for a variety of side business ventures. Over the years the mill has done everything from make cedar shingles, to dowels to wrap communication wire, to mini baseball bats, to siding for houses. Below are just a few of the many products created at the mill:

A mini-baseball bat
A mini-baseball bat
A piece of faux log cabin siding
A piece of faux log cabin siding.
The "bead board" used in the barn
The “bead board” used in the barn

Periodically, rooms have been added on to the original building. Xandy remembers a small sawdust room being added in the 1980s, while Mark talks of his brother Tim not only helping Orm saw, but also helping him build rooms off to the side much earlier than that as Orm passed away in 1967.

Some of the last wood sawed in the mill was used as flooring in our bathroom. As I look at it now even I, who has only lived here for a few short years, grow nostalgic. The book shelf that was one of the first gifts Xandy made me was built with wood from the mill as was the puppet house he built for Kitt. I am sure that everywhere on this farm there are creations that are in some way linked to the mill which once looked like this:

sawmill panaramic

and has now been reduced to this:





I am sure that there is something in here about time and its inevitability, but I would rather live in this image than think about that right now.