A new Broad Axe


I was walking in the woods a while back and stumbled across a very angry man, he was screaming at the four winds and throwing things out of his wagon.I do not really know why he was so angry but he wanted nothing to do with a variety of items. I smoked a pipe worth of tobacco watching him before he left still cursing to the four winds. When I went to investigate what he had tossed out I found this broad axe. It has been hard used but it still has a good amount of life in it.

Some people will lose control and go a bit mad. I think this man might have tightly held onto his control so others might never see how little control he truly had. Then that morning some little thing set him off and believing no one could see him he exploded with rage. I suspect no one will see his rage for some time; at least not until he can no longer contain it and some small thing sets him off. Then his rage will know no end until he either regains control or is killed. I rather suspect he will meet a bad end when someone he cannot frighten or intimidate will not tolerate such an outburst.

At least I got this axe before someone kills him.

Helping a neighbor build a barn

IMG_28041880's barn mortis & tenon1880's barn work 2

Percy Crowel and his wife, Clara, bought a plot of land a mile or so down the road. Originally from Alabama he found freedom by chance a year or so prior to the war. Through a small bit of forgery and more than a little bit of larceny I helped his wife and him to freedom. He joined the Army after the emancipation proclamation and with about a third of the black population of Minnesota helped form a company of infantry. After the war he found that I had returned to Minnesota and chose to purchase land near to me. He is an honest neighbor who I like very much. He is a good god fearing man who only rarely partakes in my drink. I do not care of the color of his skin, only the color of his coin matters to me. No one dares say anything about his presence in my tavern while I am present. The only time a man made mention of it I simply stated that Crowel wore blue in the war and the man complaining did not. he is a member of our local GAR and no one that I know of in our camp has complained.

Percy heard me speak of the construction projects I had worked on while in the Legion and during the War of Rebellion; as a result he asked for my assistance. Percy acquired some lumber from the sawmill and some from his timber. Our acquaintance Willy did splendid mortis & tenon work. But the finish work left something to be desired. The explanation Percy gave amused me; he opined that the cattle and horses that would reside in the barn were not all that interested in clean and crisp work. About twenty of us helped in the construction of the barn and it took us the better part of a month to haul away about thirty wagon loads of dirt and set the foundation. Once that was done the frame went up in short order with the roof and walls following without too much trouble.

Most of the building in North Africa had been stone but timber is plentiful here and truth be told I prefer timber when it comes to construction. My own inn and stable are a mix of wood and stone construction to better weather the winter. The problem with stone construction is it does a poor job of keeping snakes and mice at bay. My lovely wife is not fond of visiting livestock. She has imported a trio of cats to deal with the mice and rats that try to find their way into the inn and stable. They are accomplished mousers and I must admit to having grown rather fond of them. In the winter they invade the inn occasionally getting under foot but their soft fur and purring is oddly welcome to me. Whenever Mrs. Mina dares sit down one or more cats suddenly appear in her lap. One of them has a taste for my scotch and will sneak a tongue full when the opportunity presents itself.

The reward and thanks for assisting my neighbor in building his barn has been an influx of fresh milk, something I enjoy greatly. A unasked for reward like that for work willingly given is quite nice.



Four or five mornings a week I take a walk through the forest. Walnut, white oak, hickory and cedar trees always catch my eye, I don’t know why. There is a beauty in nature that man cannot match. The quiet of the morning just before the dawn is a moment of peace and if I am lucky enough to be in it I am lucky indeed. I walk the land and I understand why the Lakota and other Indians have fought so hard. I am no woodsman who knows the types of tree simply by touch and sight. I still appreciate the beauty inherent in the timber.

Last eve a traveling missionary stopped at my inn. He was quick to condemn my drink from my dinner table and then foolish enough to go on to complain that he was being served by a colored woman, my wife. The fool then went on to condemn the Indian for cowardice and the barbarity of the War of the Rebellion. I asked him if he had served and he was quite proud to say he had not. I told him if he was going to take that attitude with the Lakota he would find his scalp decorating a lodge pole. If he was damned fool enough to insult me while under my roof then had best leave while no blade resided between his ribs. My Mina was quick to see that the man had stepped too far over the line and that I was quite serious. A man of the cloth is due some respect, when he earns it, but this man continued to draw breath only upon the grace of my gracious wife. He protested that he was to sleep in the inn; the fool did not know I owned the place. He left my place of business with my boot placed squarely upon his backside and the very clear understanding that if I ever saw him again I would take an ax handle to him. I believe he understood that I was serious and was quick to retrieve his horse from my stable.

There were several ministers in my regiment during the War of Rebellion. All were good men who I never knew to complain about their service. The Captain of my Company was a minister by trade and a good man. Over the years I have known many men of the cloth, some were good men and some not worth the trouble to bury. Ministers and men of the cloth in general are just like any other profession with both good men and bad along with all the shades between.

I cannot abide a man who believes he is holier than thou. I am not a good man, I do not claim to be one. I will not have a man who wouldn’t make a pimple on the backside of any fighting man speak ill of them. That, unfortunately, is civilization. Hard men carve civilization from the wilderness and weak men with money come and take it from them. They tear down the trees to build their churches; I would have more respect for them if they would simply worship under those trees and move on.

A pick me up


I had a particularly bad day: long, hot and full of particularly unpleasant people. A few easily as bad as I, if not worse. On my way home I needed a pick me up and was looking for a tavern where I might lubricate my throat. Instead I found a little inn and drygoods store. They had no spirits but they did have some splendid coffee and a passable meal. The owner and his wife were incredibly pleasant and made me glad I had killed no one that day. They were good hard working people and I felt I owed them a bit of thanks so I bought this nice hatchet. I already have a quite nice one that came over from Scandinavia sometime in the last century and a couple more heads waiting handles but this one caught my eye. I felt I owed them a little extra coin and I had it in my pocket.

I’ve known men to do incredible work with a hatchet. It is a tool that can do so much. From building a shelter to defending your hide with everything in between.

It will take some time with a whet stone to give it an edge but I like the look of it. I learned a long time ago a good hatchet is a useful and often vital tool. I don’t often leave my home without a knife, hatchet and rifle close to hand. I like to be prepared and I would have a necessity with me that I don’t need than need it and not have it.