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We’re Milling on the Mountain!

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Finally, at long last, we found someone to mill our trees!  Progress around here has been painfully slow and frustrating, as we try to rebuild from the Valley Fire, so this is a pretty big deal.  We’ve had a “log deck” sitting on our lot for 7 months, with the hopes of turning it into usable lumber for the new house.   Plenty of weekends were spent with the Alaskan Mill, cutting slabs, but that was very slow-going.  This seems like a perfect business opportunity, right?  Exactly!

Red Hawk Pallesen retired from Cal Fire in December, and is now pulling his portable saw-mill all over Cobb Mountain.  He was active in the Valley Fire, and is pleased to be helping our community use the trees in a meaningful way.

We’re Milling on the Mountain!

Having these trees carefully processed repaired something in my soul.  For a while, I wasn’t sure it was going to happen at all, and that loss was growing heavy.  I was raised in these forests, and have always had a deep connection with the trees and the wood they produce.  Firewood has always been way of life, but I wanted these trees to be incorporated into our future.  I can’t wait to create beauty with this lumber, falling back on my days of being the only girl in wood-shop.

The first day, Red Hawk moved the trees to the staging area, next to where he would set up the mill.  He also took a few more trees down.  Most importantly, he asked us what type of lumber we wanted.  We have lots of ideas for trim and beams in the house, but also want to build a chicken coop, play structure and garden beds, so we made a list of everything from 1×6’s and 2×4’s to 8×8 and 12×6 beams.

The next day, the milling began!  Here is the redwood tree we thought we could save, because it had started to grow new branches.  Unfortunately, it was burned very badly on the house side, and would be a falling danger in the winter storms.


He was so careful with this tree, and cut the most beautiful 2×6’s and 2×12’s.


Most of the trees were ponderosa pine, which everyone says is “non-structual”.  Well, it can be, it just needs to be cut larger, and stamped by an engineer, or used in an out-structure.


Many of the pines were infected by a fungus, introduced by the bark beetles, which turns the wood blue.  I happen to love the blue staining, and it doesn’t effect the integrity of the wood at all.


Check out this thin, translucent piece! Maybe it will become a veneer someday.


Nice little pile of wood to get things started, right?


The next step is to “stack and sticker” the lumber so that it can cure.  Red Hawk cut plenty of 1×1 inch “stickers” for separating the boards.  You’ve got to have airflow for the wood to dry correctly, and the weight of the pile to prevent warping.  The tarp over the top will keep the wood out of the direct sun, and also create a kiln-effect for drying the wood.  The conditions are so hot and dry here in the summer, all of this should be thoroughly dried within a few months.  Although, projects like the kid’s play structure and the chicken coop could be built now.  This lovely stack belongs to my neighbor, we’ll be working on our’s this weekend.


To all my tree-hoarding friends, here’s your milling opportunity… finally!


York Creek Ranch and Saw Works, llc
Red Hawk Pallessen

 Thank you, Red Hawk, for working your way through our community, and helping us glean beauty from our changed landscape.

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