Wildlife blind takes form in Leeds

by Matt Verson

blind2The Beaver Brook Greenway located in Leeds along Rt. 9 across from National Grid, has been undergoing some transformations this past season. First, the erection of an informational kiosk next to Northampton’s Corrosion Control Facility, and secondly, a timber framed wildlife blind. As of this writing, the blind is under construction. Both of these projects are the result of the Beaver Brook Working Group receiving CPA funds to develop this 100 acre parcel for people to enjoy the unique natural setting found there. Although this was the site of a working farm about 40 years ago – it’s main feature now is a bit of open water – frequented by birds and wildlife. The purpose of the blind is to allow for people to sit comfortably out of the weather, and afford a good viewing perspective of the water.

When the Beaver Brook Working Group first started discussing a blind, we thought it would be cool to keep our funds in the communityandemploylocaltradespeopletoshowwhattheycould do. Wally Halva at the Hampshire County Jail donated shop time and services by building the kiosk, and Joel Strate transported the kiosk. In April, Tom Jenkins of Westhampton felled the trees and dragged them to the landing with his oxen, Rock and Star. In August, Neil Godden of Goshen with his portable sawmill milled the logs into timbers and boards. A host of other folks participated by donating time or materials to the project including Dave Bowman for the roof boards, Goshen Stone for plinths and stair landing, Hathaway Construction for gravel, RK Miles for the metal roofing material. Underground Supply helped erect the structure, and Bob Marvel planed the floor boards.

The relationship between Tom Jenkins and his oxen, the way they silently moved the massive walnut, cherry, and locust logs through the forest, it was unassailable the special husbandry a teamster develops. The interest that the oxen took in their surroundings – nibbling on the emerging garlic mustard, tasting a twig here and there, was a reminder that animal traction is not just a blast from the past, but an invitation to ground oneself in the here and now.

blind3To watch Neil Godden operate his mill on-site, visually scanning the logs and then physically working them with his hatchet and hewing axe to accommodate their natural features, was a testament to Neil’s skill, taught from master to journeyman and apprentice down through the mists of time in ancient Europe. Later, the intricate layout of non-linear timbers, each weighing several hundred pounds that would later come together to within a 32nd of an inch – while a hardy volunteer crew held them overhead – all of this was a connection, to craft, community, and nature.

The objective now is safe parking off the road near the kiosk, and clearing some trails to avoid having to wade through the undergrowth. Picnic tables andabenchwillfollownext season, and some folks are working to clear invasive species, and rehabilitate the old farmstead garden that still provides a variety of blooms.


Comments are closed.