Family Vacation to Wisconsin
for Sawmill & Flooring Seminar
Gigantic Freaking Tree. Jim's favorite.
From left: Wallace, Frances, Daniel, Jim... Elizabeth must be taking the photo.
What STUFF happened in Wisconsin?
After more than a 2 decade absence of family vacations, mom, dad, Elizabeth & I packed up, hopped a plane to Chicago, Illinois and then SUV'ed the rest of the way to Spring Green, Wisconsin. For many years, my folks have wanted to have a working homestead. They grew up in the country and have been working towards a sawmill & flooring operation for the last 20 years on their land in North Carolina.
Dad had found Jim Berkmeier's website www.timbergreenforestry.com about sustainable forestry and flooring production for landowners. It was my folk's idea to go there and take a week long "Birky" seminar.
We stayed in his house. I was wondering what we were getting ourselves into but we all had a pretty good feeling about it. Especially dad...cause he had written back & forth with Jim for a while.
In one week, we learned some of Jim's processes, ideas & philosophies. The basic idea is: A landowner can make damn good money by caring for his forest, carefully harvesting the "worst" trees "first", producing wood flooring & then installing it (thus, the "cutting out the middlemen" picture above).
He specializes in mixed species flooring. Sample on right. Beautiful isn't it? Click on sample to enlarge. This is a logical specialty because it makes use of a landowners entire inventory and lends itself well to sustainable forestry techniques.
Central to this philosophy is the fact that logging companies work on an entirely different volume scale than landowners would ever consider. At these lower volumes, a landowner can reap high profits and provide a superior & more beautiful product. It turns the old equation on its head and laughs all the way to the bank.
Who is Jim? Jim is part philosopher, pragmatist, rebel, teacher and - definitely - a wood lover.
Essentially, each day we went through a different part of the process. The final day of our stay, we installed the fruit of our labors in Jim's basement hallway. A true win-win situation.
Hopefully the pictures and captions tell most the story of this incredibly educational, enjoyable and connecting week.
Click here to go to Day One in Timbergreen.