SOLON & BEYOND: Growing up working in the woods with dad

Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percyby Marilyn Rogers-Bull & Percy
Solon, Maine 04979

Can’t say good morning because it is Sunday evening as I sit here to start writing this column, but I do wish all of you the best!

Hope you enjoyed reading all about the five Generations Of Woodsmen, I did, and it was so different than it is today! The following is also from that same old 1974 paper:

“In That First Year I realized I liked horses very much. Father loved horses also. He was a very good horseman.

The next summer when I went back to work with father in the woods I was set to twitching with a horse. This was an important job and I could do near as well as a man.

I worked two summers with a little black horse named Roy. He was 28 years old, a family heirloom, but he was real willing and liked to work.

The fellows working on the job was good woodsmen, good choppers. They was highly skilled men. All could file their own saws, hang their own axes properly.

It was a disgrace to be working with dull tools or to hang a tree so it did not come to the ground, got caught in another tree. A tree was to be properly felled without damaging a lot of other trees. This was the most important of many high standards those woodsmen lived up to. They protected the young growth.

I often wondered where father got his ideas about conservation. He never talked about it, in fact he is a rough man. Didn’t go very far in school. But father had a real desire not to cut any small trees when he was working in the woods. He saw to it the men with him understood that, but they had the same desire themselves.

After I worked with horses a couple of summers I became a chopper in my own right.

There were two mistakes which could get you into a real problem with my old man; one was to abuse a horse by putting it into a place too rough of ground.

The other mistake was cutting a lot of small trees that weren’t merchantable. If there was a small spruce, say three inches diameter, close to a big tree you was cutting and that small spruce was in your way, say you cut that spruce to make room, when the old man come around you was in bad trouble.

Dad would say, “What did you cut that tree for!?” Then you’d have to explain the tree was in the way. And he’d explain to you that it couldn’t have been that much in the way.

We had some farmland on islands in the Kennebec River and we’d have to go out there in boats and canoes to do the farming. I spent a lot of time on the river, like all the boys around Bingham, and I did a lot of hunting.

There were a few more deer around Bingham than there are now although it’s still pretty good hunting country. Father remembered when there were many more moose around Flagstaff than there were deer. He was 15 years old before he saw the first deer in the woods around Flagstaff, but he saw plenty of moose.

If horses liked to work with you, they would do more and this was a source of pride to me. I learned to care for and manage horses just by watching Dad, learning what he looked out for. Never was any formal training, but here’s an example. He’d see me hook up a team and I might make a mistake. Dad would say, “No, son, wait a minute. This isn’t right. You never hook a trace chain like this. It”s going to twist the lug. You’ve got to hook it like this. The grab has always got to be straight up. If it isn’t, when your horse pulls it’s going to twist the lug.

Then when I was harnessing the team he’d talk to me about the proper fitting of the collar. The horse has got to have room enough so that collar is bearing properly on his chest. Dad would say, ‘You’ve got to be able to put your hand between the collar and the bottom of his neck.’ You want there to be enough room when he expands and pulls against it, doesn’t choke when he’s pulling hard.”

And now for Percy’s memoir: A dream is a wish your heart makes when you ‘re fast asleep. In dreams you lose your heartaches… Whatever you wish for, you keep. Have faith in your dreams and someday your rainbow will come smiling through. No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.


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