A short walk from the horse corral, in a meadow hidden behind a stand of live oak trees, is Steutel's milling area. A dozen or so tree trunks, averaging 25 feet in length and 2 or 3 feet in diameter, lie side by side supported by railroad ties. The row of logs is on a slight incline, at the low end of which stands the green metal sawmill. "We drive right in here from the road," Steutel says, gesturing toward a dirt driveway angling down into the meadow from Wynola Road on the hillside above, "and set the logs on the railroad ties. Because they're on an incline, we can roll them down to the mill, which has hydraulic arms that lift the log up onto the mill. Then...."
Steutel gives a full demonstration of the $22,000, 28-foot horizontal band saw mill. A ten-horsepower gasoline motor propels the saw while a three-horsepower motor runs the hydraulics that lift and turn the logs.
From the sawmill, Steutel hikes back uphill to a row of horse stables he's using as lumber-drying barns. In them, he has stacked sawn Jeffrey pine timbers, including 18´´x 18´´ posts 26 feet long that will be the main supports for his post-and-beam barn. Canvas tarps cover the smooth blond-colored pine. "You have to be careful not to let them dry too fast," Steutel explains. "And you have to keep them out of the sunlight." He leans over and picks up a board from the ground. "This one has been in the sun so it's getting these stress cracks."
Steutel figures that by the time he's done cutting, milling, and drying all the timber for his barn, "I am going to save over $40,000 compared to what I would have paid if I had bought lumber commercially for this barn. That one 18´´ x 18´´ post would have been thousands of dollars alone, and it only took me a day to do. So instead of spending that kind of money, I am spending a year working a few days a week, playing around with the mill, and having a good time too."