My parents burned wood. Father made a woodbox to hold the wood. It was varnished and sported smooth round corners and a hinged lid. Years later Mother said that my first complete sentence was an answer to the question, “How much did the woodbox cost, Robert?”

The humble Farmer bought his home completely furnished, including this crosscut saw. “I have never needed it, but one never knows,” he notes. Photo courtesy of Robert Skoglund

“Two bucks.”

From time to time our Clark Island neighbor, Charlie Chaples, would funnel a big truckload of hard coal into our cellar for the furnace, but in the kitchen we cooked and heated with wood.

We didn’t have a woodlot, but Grandfather’s brother-in-law Harvey Kinney did, and it was only a 10-minute walk down the road. Today it is Timmy Polky’s cow pasture on Route 131, but 80 years ago it was the kind of forest that quickly appears when Maine coast land is left to its own devices.

Money was scarce, so one cut wood on halves. The landowner kept half of what was cut.

One of my earliest childhood memories is of “helping” my father cut wood on Harvey’s lot. There was snow on the ground. Father felled trees with a one-man crosscut saw and an ax. He made me a small bucksaw that consisted of three pieces of wood, a blade and a rope that served as a torque that held it together when twisted with a stick. I don’t remember ever using it, but I cherished that saw for over 70 years before giving it to a nephew, who put it in his family museum.


Like so many of my distant relatives here in St. George, when I came of age, moved away and bought a house of my own, it was within sight of where I was born.

Among the treasures that came with this completely furnished house was a crosscut saw. It is still hanging on the wall. I have never needed it, but one never knows.

The back part of my farm is a huge woodlot and the kitchen had a Kineo C woodstove, so I got a chainsaw and set out to cut firewood. I cut very little firewood because slicing up one or two small birch trees was about all the energy I could muster in a day, so some winter evenings I had nothing to burn but a few newspapers.

Having more optimism than perseverance, over the years I had several chainsaws. The earliest one was rather bulky and I doubt if I could lift it off the ground today.

The next generation of saws was lighter. Don’t ask me the brands. One was a long blue saw and one was red, small and stubby. Because I’ve never mastered the skill of throwing away useful things, they are still leaking oil onto the barn floor. Come and take them away if you will.

A more recent purchase was a Husqvarna chainsaw, a beautiful orange thing that I used to clear my property lines. Because time has a habit of running together, although it’s fairly new I have no idea of how long I’ve had it. It wouldn’t start for my helper the other day, so, instead of messing with it, I took it back to the dealer for service.


The young technician yanked on the start cord, then flipped it up on the counter and said, “Throw it away.”

Without even being told, I realized that nowadays it is cheaper to throw something away and buy a new replacement than to lay out $200 for the two hours of techie labor it would take to fix it.

With reckless abandon I went to a big-box store that gives me a 10 percent veterans discount and put the smallest Husqvarna chainsaw on my credit card.

No sooner had I boasted of my purchase on Facebook, when my friend Peter convinced me I should have gone electric. No problem. I’m at the age where it might take me a week to get a new purchase out of the cardboard box. So I returned it unopened for credit and went back to my friendly Husqvarna dealer, who had one in stock.

The electric saw also went on the credit card. When the owner of the store placed the huge carton in my arms, I knew that Peter had advised me wisely. I mentioned that it was so light that I should have no trouble handling it.

Later in the day when I opened the box, there was no saw inside. The boys in the downstairs workshop put the saw on the shelf for display and left the box on the showroom floor.

You note the obvious omission of names or places in this truthful little tale. Should the Maine State Chamber of Commerce learn that there is a salesman in Maine who can get The humble Farmer to pay over $200 for an empty cardboard carton, that salesman would be given a gold-plated plaque and inducted into the Maine Business Hall of Fame.

The humble Farmer can be heard Friday nights at 7 on WHPW (97.3 FM) and visited at:

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