Enter your email:

Construction Topics




















Become a FB fan

Construction Network

Trades Hub


January 28, 2011

The Adventures of a Carpenter Gone Primitive…or “Who is that Masked Crusader?”
Filed under: Carpentry — Tags: — nedpelger

I’ve written previously about Randy, the amazing former carpenter who sold all his tools and decided to go primitive. He lives on our 5 acres, trains the alpacas, cooks the best meals known to this man, cultivates the field, builds whatever pops into his head and generally just does what makes sense around here…at least what makes sense to him.

Recently he got a call from an alpaca breeder. She wants to sell her stud male, but he’d become so aggressive with her that he’d attack her whenever she got near him. She couldn’t sell him acting that wild. Randy’s animal handling skills are uncanny and he agreed to give it a try. After the first day, he came home spit on, bit on and butted. This was one big, mean alpaca. He had a bad case of Berserk Male Syndrome (BMS) which comes from alpacas losing their respect for humans. BMS can become severe and lead to putting the animal down.

So Randy is in Day 2 of the battle, though he created a shield to block the smelly spit and intimidate the alpaca. As you can see below, the shield has BMS with a line through it and the mottoes, “Death Before Dishonor” and “Don’t Spit on Me.”

Of course, the shield had to be made to effectively do battle with the beast.

Do you think Randy has too much time on his hands? I’ll give you an update later on how the alpaca training went…because so far it’s BMS Alpaca 1, Randy 0.

Maybe carpentry as a profession doesn’t sound so bad after all?


November 23, 2010

The Adventures of a Carpenter Gone Primitive…or “Poppy, What’s that Guy Do?”
Filed under: Carpentry — Tags: — nedpelger

My good friend John Matarazzi likes to think he’s a real man. As a former Marine in Vietnam, now a bridge carpenter and formerly a construction supervisor, safety director and small construction company owner, I’d have to say he qualifies. Many years ago, when I was president of Consolidated Construction, John was the safety director from hell. He was the guy who thrived on conflict while I tried to finesse my way through it.

We hired Randy through some temp employment service and John told me about his amazing carpentry skills. Randy worked to a quality level that almost no one else achieved and he did it with a high rate of production. Randy also fought in Vietnam and was as hard headed as John. Randy refused to follow any rules he thought arbitrary or stupid (Hello OSHA). He and John scrapped on a regular basis. Other than annoying me, though, it really didn’t amount to much.

While building a small addition at our house, Randy and I got to know each other. He’d had a challenging childhood in Lebanon, was quite dyslexic and was, in his essence, an artist. I generally get on well with artists and grew to really like Randy. He had an idea for the little grass sideyard at our modest house and I told him, “Sure, whatever.” The next day I came home to see piles of dirt, huge rocks and holes all over the yard. I thought he was having a war flashback and building foxholes. As always, though, the final product was an amazing, a perennial garden and fish pond that has delighted us for the past 17 years.

Randy and I lost contact after I started my own business. He ended up working for most of the the local GCs. He’d stay for a bit, then move on. He never had a problem getting a job because of that mix of quality and productivity. At one point, he worked for Wohlson Construction and was lead carpenter building the award winning Alumni Writers House at Franklin and Marshall College, shown below.

He got tired of the aggravations of working for GCs and started his own construction business. While he made a go of it for several years, he was more an artist than a businessman. The Great Recession counted him one of its casualties. He lost his business, his house, his truck. He always wanted to work around animals, food and nature, but never took that road. He decided he never would give that life a try unless he took dramatic action. So he sold all his tools and moved to a primitive living compound in North Carolina.

While that move proved a bit extreme, he ended up living on our 5 acres. He trains the animals, cooks the best meals known to this man, cultivates the field, builds whatever pops into his head and generally just does what makes sense around here…at least what makes sense to him. A few of his projects are shown in the photo below.

So I plan to occasionally write about Randy’s Adventures of a Carpenter Gone Primitive. He’s an amazing guy and it’s fascinating to watch the creativity brew as well as to see the effects of a life lived off the grid. John Matarazzi still claims Randy is the best carpenter he’s ever seen.