Our First 10 Years

Once we returned to Medford, with an assortment of weathered logs and looking like Nixon and his cronies after they got caught breaking into Watergate, a letter arrived from Anderson. It was an apology and some kind of explanation of what he did and why he did it. He offered us the name Homestead Log Homes and informed us he would be living somewhere in Europe. “Great news!” We would rather have our customer’s deposit back and the $1500.00 we paid him for the useless Jackson county dealership. Good thing we never bought the entire state. Now, what were we supposed to tell our customers? Fortunately, the couple from Cave Junction still wanted a log home and offered to become a partner in our company. Lance either wanted a kit or their money back, if somehow we were able to make this thing go. I thought we’d just flick it in and try to pay them back as soon as possible and not look back. It was a fun run, but time to go get a real job and start a career. Then, a few days later in comes one of my customers from Eugene and he wants to build a log cabin near Bend. I tell him the whole heart-breaking story and he’s still interested in working with us. He asked me why can’t we just go out and get some logs and make him his cabin. “Sounds easy, other than we don’t own a reliable chainsaw or know how to build a log home, sir!” So, I put him off for a week to discuss between ourselves the possibility of continuing on or each of us going our own way. Of course, the next day, another of my customers arrive from the Salem area wanting to build, and then another from the Portland area. They’re all serious and ready to give us a deposit and get going. I guess the ads in the Oregonian were working after all. “What to do. Flick it in or roll the dice?”

Now back in the late 1970’s the US Forest Service had a house log program where they set aside sections of forests of Lodgepole Pine. They would mark the bigger trees with spray paint, helping them to thin an area. I’m sure it was set up for homesteaders a hundred years ago and now to help them remove areas infected with pine beetles. “Heck, weren’t we Homesteaders?” One phone call and some paperwork and four of us were in the woods within three weeks time, logging. Try to do that today with all of our bureaucracy and red tape, it would be more like three years. I’m convinced because of us, that program was terminated shortly thereafter. “Hey boys, let’s send in young heathens with dull chainsaws and a farming tractor into the forest for three days and see what happens and count the casualties.” At least they marked enough trees to build all three of the homes we had sold. We hired a timber faller for the first day and the four of us tried to keep up with him by de-limbing and cutting the trees to length. We camped out for three nights and worked like dogs dragging each log into a deck area with the tractor. “Did I mention the mosquitoes?” They were the size of small bats and were eating us alive. I counted over a hundred bites on Dave’s back after the first day. We were all itching for success, but not like this. There were other homesteader’s in the woods nearby logging on the same program. One family had the wife cutting down the trees while the kids watched. “Go mommy go.” She had a little red McCullough chainsaw. The kind they sold at the local toy store. “Hello?” On almost every tree she tried to fall, the saw got stuck wanting to fall in the opposite direction. The husband and kids would push with all their might to get it going the right way and often couldn’t. I’m pretty sure I remember the husband using their Volvo station wagon with the wife on the hood to get more leverage. That week I realized a lot of respect for loggers and the hard work they do. They could look up at each tree and pick an open lane for it to fall into, plus they would pound plastic shims in the saw cut, which I considered cheating. A self loading log truck was contracted by us to pick them up. But, where to take them? Thinking back, I don’t know that I’ve had more fun than that logging experience and watching the Griswold’s wife struggle with that saw. “O.K. children, it’s now time to go feed the bears!”