May 31, 2012



Well, that worked!--Because the Log Pull event was AWESOME!!! 
Over the 2 day challenge, we had 15 log pulling vehicles and over 90 people on property participating, volunteering or spectating.  The diversity of the participants was so cool....of course, young guys with their big trucks, neighbors with their antique tractors, but also 4 all-female teams, which included senior ladies from the Episcopal church in their 4WD SUV...Four trucks from the "Dirty South Rigs" truck club came from Elgin; and we even had one man travel nearly 200 miles Sunday morning from Crowley to participate in the cause with his son.
1st PLACE- Scott Keen and his
"Band of Rednecks" from Taylor -
1143 diameter inches pulled

Our winners of the challenge: "The Band of Rednecks" from Taylor.  Leading their crew was Scott Keen, a Technical Account Manager with Dell Computers, who fabricated a custom winch system in the bed of his truck for this event. His Ford F350 with a 12v Cummins Diesel engine and crew were pulling 4-5 logs out of the forest in one pass of the course. Both days, they were "in it to win it" and operated like a 60 foot-long log-hauling freight train. Their winning haul: 67 logs or 1,143 diameter inches. Their total winning prize was $1,500 after we received an additional $300 from a private donor!

Everyone came with their own story to tell- like Jan Riley in her Jeep Wrangler, "Nellie Belle"....Jan, ran the course solo, hooking up and hauling logs both days! Her husband passed away shortly after the fire. The two of them often enjoyed off-roading together for recreation.  She assisted in our mission in the memory of her husband, and said it was the most fun she has had since his passing; that she wasn't in the field alone and his spirit was with her. From this experience we have met so many new neighbors and friends who participated in a desire to move forward in a positive direction and be a part of the cause for the trees.
2nd PLACE- James Reed and his LS
Tractor from Paige- 908 inches pulled,
120 points "Good Sportsman Conduct"
In total, the Log Pull competition brought 237 logs out of our forest and out to the road for accessibility. I estimate that to be about 44,000 board feet! This Log Pull event successfully pulled approximately one-third of our dead trees out our 7 acres of forest.

In putting our story out and seeking assistance transporting these timbers, we were recently contacted by national cable television producers.  They liked our human interest story, want to help, and are going to participate in the transport these logs to the mill.  As part of their show story line, they will have a driver and trailer helping us make hauls Tuesday, June 12th. We have put out the word and would like to form a convoy effort of trucks and trailers to participate in the TV show filming and timber transport.  We will begin early morning at our home and will be making 25 mile hot-shot runs to S.A.W. Mill & Supply in Elgin. 
3rd PLACE- James Denny and his
"Dirty South Rigs" crew from Bastrop
- 460 diameter inches pulled

Our initial intention was to work through Jim Leverett and Logs to Lumber to trade out our scorched timber for milled lumber from a prominent sawmill in Huntsville.  We had hoped this arrangement would be able to, at minimum, provide framing material for us and perhaps others.  When the time came to arrange transportation logistics, many factors had us concluding that the exchange and transport to Huntsville was not in our best interest. Committed to our cause, we decided that our efforts are best spent by milling our timber closer to home. With our choice to mill locally, Mr. Leverett introduced us to Stephen Wusterhausen with S.A.W. Mill & Supply in Elgin.  The Wusterhausen family and business have a long history in Bastrop County and his family mill specializes in wood siding, flooring, large timbers and trusses. 

Shortly after the fire we had heard mixed messages about the tree quality in regards to “construction grade”.  We were not alone in our confusion and it seems many were under impression that our Loblollies are not acceptable for construction- due to the burn, their “softness” or grade.  Not familiar with the industry terminology and needing clarification, we spoke with our local mills who have been in business for decades right here in Bastrop County, and they assured us we could, in fact, build with the very pine trees from our property.  As a result, we have decided that we will mill and rebuild with the very pines and cedars from our property. Bastrop, Austin and surrounding towns were built from these Loblollies, and Bastrop's great historic structures are evidence enough to give us confidence in the viability of our pines.

The pioneering spirit that settled this part of Texas is the strength we draw upon to reclaim our land from the tree hazards, rebuild our home and provide future land management. Our trees were the only thing we had left to show from the fire, and for us their death will not be in vein. It is a bittersweet experience to move through the emotional process of losing them and labors of love to utilize them, but what a great legacy we are creating for our family and land to bounce back from this experience hopefully better, stronger, wiser and sheltered.

 KUT-Austin:  Scortched Trees to be Milled for Bastrop Rebuilding,  By Andy Uhler


Logs to Lumber,  By Raymond Thompson, UT Wildfire Project



Oh and check out our winner Scott Keen's gnarly "log surfing"style!
The awesomeness of our winners "The Band of Rednecks" from Taylor, TX...
Not only do they have log pullin' skills running thru their veins...they also have a gnarly log surfing style!
Congrats Scott Keen & crew- your breed is rare. Thank you.