The settlers had to immediately set to clearing the land for the spring crop. “There were so many log cabins to put up and the work required the assistance of their neighbours. It could not be done alone. It required from 12 to 14 men to put up a log cabin the size wanted, and it required a yoke of oxen to haul the logs into the place.” (92) During the year Rev. King had spent with his family in Ohio he had learned to handle an axe, to chop and hew and build log houses. “I took twelve men and a yoke of oxen and went into the woods one day at 7:00 in the morning and told the men I intended to put up the body of a log cabin before 7:00 in the evening. The wood was all standing.” (92)
By 7:00 in the evening the whole body of the log cabin was up, 18 x 24 – 12 feet high and ready for the roof. I assisted in putting up several and showed them how it could be done in one day and as it was always the same hands that were employed they soon became acquainted with the work and could themselves put up a log cabin in a day.
Swinging an axe all day long sounds very tough to me. I invite you to reflect on a time when you did hard manual labour.
4 thoughts on “Chopping and Hewing – Wm. King, 21 of 28”
It’s a funny thing about hard manual labour – it leaves such a good, tired feeling in your body – yet sometimes it kills the mind with boredom. The hardest physical work I ever did was as a teenager on “Agri-crew”, a program designed to assist farmers. We worked for days on end weeding tomato plants and hauling the heaviest bales of hay I’d lifted before or since. I was glad when that summer was over.
I worked a couple of summers for the neighbours doing yardwork and gardening. I had to chop off the garlic heads one summer, and the smell of garlic every time I went for a run for the next month from that top made me nauseous. It’s possible that working as an assistant to a beekeeper the couple of summers before that was more physically demanding, but I’ll never forget that eau de garlic.
I grew up on a farm and we grew potatoes. We didn’t have a huge farm, but each autumn there were several acres to pick. There was a tractor-drawn potato digger, but that still meant a lot of lifting of the bags of potatoes. I was talking with my sister today and she reminded me that one of the gifts of that experience was the closeness to the earth. Another unexpected benefit was that being physically active as an adolescent is one of the preventative factors for osteoporosis in women. Sometimes it takes a long time to be able to put experience into perspective!
Ah – there is nothing like the smell of soil – particularly in the spring and fall. Sometimes I pick up a handful and just smell it. There’s also nothing like the smell of freshly dried hay. I smell it and can instantly see in my mind’s eye my dad’s chaff-covered, tanned, hairy arms.