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Becoming Woodsmanshiply

Before purchasing Los Veranos it was obvious it needed tending to. Its forested portions were far too dense, somewhere between five to six or seven thousand conifers packed way too close together for their own good interspersed by small groves of densely packed aspen and oak with scattered maple around the edges. But this was a major factor in my decision to buy into the parcel. Heartachingly beautiful and soothing to the eyes, it was obvious the forest was a treasure-trove of a natural resource bursting at its seams and longsince ready to be put to good use before anything disastrous could destroy it. And even before the steel building shell was up and bolted firmly to its finely polished concrete slab, my imagination ran wild dreaming of all the ways the forestland timber could be used to build out its interior in practical and eye-pleasing manner. Barely an experienced woodsman, I was ready to learn.

It was a while before much work could be done on that phase of construction as I had just started in a new job leading a new web applications development project in Santa Fe– something else being built from scratch in as efficient and frugal manner as possible due to strict agency budget constraints. Budget constraints were governing interior build out of the new steel building at Los Veranos too since the goal was to do so without incurring any debt.

So before the infrastructure, slab and steel shell of the home/studio was erected I spent a lot of time walking the property to assess forestland resources for use. The very first trees spotted for use were a pair of curved pines of just the right diameter and curvature to use as handrails on the staircase. So those were the first two trees harvested for interior build out.

I cut and hauled them down to the building site, stripped away their bark and covered them with a tarp to slow cure beneath warm sun glow in dry high-country air. Inexperienced and unsure of how stable the two pieces were, I wasn't able to even guess how they would cure out. But they came through the long process just fine and solid. My father mounted the first curved piece over the second-level stringer one day while I was away at work in Santa Fe which surprised me some because I wasn't sure he much agreed with my vision of using it as staircase handrail. Soon thereafter I mounted the second piece and began harvesting and hand milling oak pieces to install beneath them as baluster. Nothing was straight about it but I loved the way it turned out. In the meantime I found another curved pine that might be used as handrail around the balcony but it was a bit too thin to depend on for that purpose and I couldn't find an attractive way to mount it at either end of the balcony. It just wasn't curved right for use there. Thick aspen logs were used as corner posts, harvested from old trees knocked down by high springtime winds howling down the canyon from Gascon Point.

The open interior layout with walkaround balcony allowed me to work on projects requiring a lot of vertical space while inside warm and cozy out of the weather no matter how it turned.

Another early interior woodwork addition was an oak plank added to the south corner in the kitchen where I could mount the solar charge/inverter controls for easy viewing and access. A small interior enhancement but one of the most rewarding of all added during build out.

And I had to develop yet another woodsmanship skill after I began living yearround at Los Veranos. Firewood harvesting, splitting and curing had to be performed to the tune of five cords each year to stay warm in the home/studio's open interior layout through wintertime.

Becoming woodsmanshiply was hard work but it kept me healthy as an ox as harvesting of forestland timber each year progressed, and it was essential for bringing the forestland into a healthier state of being too. Sadly, my woodsmanship skills were applied too little too late to do any good when the Hermit's Peak/Calf Canyon Fire swept over the canyon, destroying all of it to the tune of 341,751 acres in all, destroying the home/studio, everything in it and forestland on and across thousands of acres in every direction surrounding the parcel. Damn!

So woodsmanship skills are atrophying while waiting for FEMA to apply its skills in monstrous bureaucracy to compensate fire victims for the big fuck up performed by the USFS when they authorized a host of their incompetents to play with fire outside in high, dry winds.

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