The timber industry, as with all industries has its ups and downs. We have all read stories on the destruction of forests and the war against using too much paper. We have seen pallet projects where creatives have morphed an object that is normally reused and discarded into beautiful home and garden decor. Whether you rent or own your home, you know a lot of lumber was utilized in the architecture of your home. There’s a major grey area on whether the industry is beneficial for the environment. This grey area is opening up conversations oon where lumber is the best option for the product it’s intended for, or whether there are better options for certain markets. These conversations all point to a general idea which applies to all aspects of life: everything is good in moderation.
The reason that the timber industry has such a major gray area is the fact that it is a renewable resource, which is great, but it takes a long time for a tree to grow. A Douglas fir tree, commonly used for Christmas trees, take fifty years to grow to a size suitable for the lumber industry. Ash, beech and oak trees can take a hundred years to grow to standard. These hardwood trees have commonly been used in the timber industry because of their density, but due to the difference in growth rates, major lumber companies have shifted to begin growing softwoods despite the demand for hardwoods.
Softwoods can grow to industry standards in twenty five years, which means a faster lead time for lumber companies. The decision by the industry to switch to planting softwoods was originally harmful for business. About forty three percent of Dutch lumber forests in 2004 had not been harvested in recent years due to a gap in supply and demand. About two thirds of the demand called for hardwood species, but seventy five percent of the newest generations of trees planted were deciduous.
Massive quantities of trees went unharvested, and affected the ecosystem in the industry forests. The trees were dying in numbers, which in a wild forest could be excellent for the environment as the decay provides food and homes for animals. Industrial forests benefit from the nutrients in the soil caused by the decay, but animals can harm the quality of the lumber they are attempting to sell. Birds commonly form holes in trees for feeding and nesting, for example, and if a bug infestation occurs, the lumber company could say goodbye to a huge amount of profits.
After years of struggling, the market finally caught on to what the timber industry was doing. 2010 brought a huge growth for the timber market, as softwood lumber became the largest growth market. It continued to be the leading product in the market through 2016, and the timber industry boomed. The timber industry will continue to grow, as construction companies continue to book more jobs, and projects can be completed at a faster rate thanks to the shortened lead time with softwoods.
There are about 259 timber wholesale companies in Netherlands alone, the biggest quantity in recent years. The Dutch can continue to be proud of their involvement in the lumber industry. They have had a strong hand in the market since the 1600s when wind powered sawmills were scattered across the country. A popular tourist sight, Het Jonge Schaap is a sawmill in Zaanse Schans, and you can witness wooden boards being cut using old, traditional methods.
Countries have been built upon the success timber industries. Major cities such as Seattle, Bordeaux, Massachusetts, and London grew to be what they are thanks to the lumber industry. The timber industry is a force to be reckoned with. Due to the fact that it’s a renewable resource, it will be around for decades to come. It has adapted through the years, and will continue as demands change, but that is one of the beautiful qualities of the global market.
I prefer to call countries by the name given to it by its method of ruling. So if anyone is lost (which, really, you shouldn't be), Netherlands is Holland. Where the Dutch live. Not the Deutsch, as that is not a group of people, but rather the Germanic language. Oh, and Germany is Deutschland.
Anyway, my second day in Hillegom, Netherlands was wonderful. I truly got the touristy, classical taste of Holland by going and seeing giant windmills at Zaandam. Just Googling Zaandam will make you think you stepped into some folklore about dwarves who live in a shoe or something interesting and historical, but in person it was so incredible. All of the buildings are historical structures, with wooden shops leading to the windmills selling various goods such as chocolate, peanut oil, clogs, and so much more.
Upon first arriving, it's kind of an odd experience being an American. Anything touristy that we have in America is usually either in the middle of a large city, or near a large city.
The historical area in Zaandam with the windmills and shops is surrounded by fields, which has canals threading through it. Seriously, Netherlands and Canals is like Peanut Butter and Jelly, there is no separating them and nor would you want to!
Amongst the shops were also museums, that showed traditional ways of baking Dutch Chocolates and various candies and foods.
I continued my walk down the narrow pathways that the feet of many tourists have engraved into the soils of the earth, Granted, there were paved walks too, but there are so, SO many people touristing this area that the footpaths just seemed more friendly.
There was such a variety of cultures visiting Zaandam that in and of itself was amazing. Just walking through the park, I believe I counted over 10 different languages.
How amazing is that? How many places in the world can you go and hear over 10 different languages in one setting? Maybe a lot across the pond, but here in America, you'd have to be in New York or Los Angeles or something to the liking of those places.
Everything in Netherlands is small, by the way. Just to prepare you other Americans that are used to our large doorways, and our stairs that easily accommodate size 12 shoes, everything in Netherlands is small!
Small, but adorable.
Like this footbridges. Seriously, did I accidentally eat the mushroom in Wonderland and turn into a giant? Apparently, it's just not me, either, because most the people crossing the bridge in the image below are Asian, and even they seem tall compared to the guardrail on the bridge!
I may as well become the old lady who lived in a shoe at this point! I just needed a shoe about quadruple that size and I could make it work.
Let's get back to the scenic photos shall we? Be prepared for windmills, windmills, and MORE windmills! Everyone gets a windmill! Okay, I'll tone down the Oprah.
Before going into the windmills, I had no idea that they were still actively used. That was the coolest part about this trip to Zaandam. It wasn't, "Oh, here are the windmills, look how pretty they are and this is what they used to be used for....". No. This was, "Oh, here are the windmills, look how pretty they are, and even though they are old as hell, we still use them because we are awesome like that."
This first windmill I went into was used to create Peanut Oil, which, if you remember me mentioning before, they sell in the little shops in the park. The first image below shows the peanuts ready to be scooped up to be crushed by the grinding wheel. The second image below is the grinding wheel, which takes all of the peanuts and crushes them into a power which will then be heated up to create the oil. The third image is that of the mill worker, who runs all the machinery.
After the crushed peanuts suffer under the grinding wheel, they get placed into this machine that heats up the ground up peanuts. The third image below shows the mill worker gathering crushed peanuts into the heater. The heat helps release the oils from the peanuts and also releases any toxins that were remaining in the peanuts.
After the crushed peanuts are heated up, they are placed in this machine that pounds the dickens out of the crushed peanuts. This pressure releases the natural oils from the peanuts which drips into a tray that sits on the ground below the press. Keep in mind, this would be an impossible business strategy in America, which is just a sad thing to admit.
It was so delightful to watch, and it smelled amazing.
There were narrow steps leading to a second floor which is this balcony type structure on top of the windmill. It is up here that the mill worker releases the blades on the outside of the mill, allowing for the entire structure to come to life.
Now, when I say steps, I mean that lightly. The Dutch call them steps. I would consider them to be more like ladders.
The second mill we went to was a lumber mill. This one had a lot more mill workers, which makes more sense considering the more dangerous machinery involved.
Around the park there were also quite a few animals. Some were residents, such as the goat, while others were just visiting, just like us!
The last building we went into was a shop where every tourist can find something worthwhile. Across the ceiling all the way across the store, clogs hung with giant tickets saying the size of the clogs in that row. There were magnets, glasses, baking trays, cookie cutters, socks, keychains, shot glasses, bells, postcards, you name it. If you've seen it in a tourist shop, you would have seen it here. At the end of the shop is a worker who shows how to make the clogs. It's actually a really cool process, and this gentleman made it look so effortless.
After his demonstration, and debating on whether or not I could get a pair of clogs (next time we go, I'm getting a pair, gosh darn it!), I left Zaandam and headed for Amsterdam. I'll save THAT for another blog post. <3
For the summer of 2015, I had it easy. I was without a job, and waiting to move to Colorado.
Sometime in July, 2015, I ended up on a plane to Amsterdam.
Can you say, "lucky"? Because I can!
I flew Delta, thank goodness, and journeyed on my eight hour flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
I stayed awake for a majority of the flight. I was too excited to sleep!
I, admittedly, did doze off once or twice but would awaken to my brain shouting "We're going to Europe!"
Somewhere over Ireland the sun started to rise. I felt my heart ache as we flew over Ireland, as it is one of the number one places I desire to go.
The sun decided to make the moment even more meaningful as it filled the sky above the clouds with its colorful morning rays.
That first day I took it pretty easy as the jet lag settled in. I got a rental car from the airport and drove to Ron's townhouse, a friend, in Hillegom where I would stay for the remainder of the week.
When I arrived, I was amazed by all the gardens. Almost all of the townhomes have gardens in front of them. You can really tell who the slackers are, to put it nicely, but Ron's garden was beautiful.
I made my way inside, and immediately, in front of you and to the left is a stair case. It's a winding staircase with stairs just big enough for feet of a child. There was a coat rack to the left on the wall before the staircase, a closet to the right, and a little hallway went down the right of the stairwell. At the end of this little hallway was a half-bath, and the entrance to the living area. The living area and dining area shared a longer room, with glass-top tables, and black and white furnishings with white floors. I believe he had one purple wall too. At the end of the long room down by the dining room were doors that opened up into the backyard. The kitchen was to the left of the dining room (so if you had x-ray vision, it would be straight ahead of you through the stairs and through the half-bath upon entering) and also had a door leading to the backyard, though this one was smaller.
Going up the stairs to the second level you would find the master bedroom, laundry room, shower room, and a secondary room. You step upon the second floor and the secondary room would be to your left, the master bedroom front-left, the laundry room front-right, and the shower room all the way to the right.
You had to walk down towards the shower room (which was a total of about 3 steps) to continue your journey up the stairs to the third floor, which was an office area. There is a guest bed on the third floor, and there is where I stayed for my visit. At the top of the walls (which the ceilings are not that tall on the third floor) are these windows that tilt open to let the fresh air in.
It's a super cozy townhome, and absolutely adorable. It has quite a sizeable backyard, with gardens, a patio area, and a shed in the back.
After carrying my bags upstairs, using the restroom, and changing clothes, I went back downstairs to the main floor. I took myself and my camera to the back yard for some shots.
The first thing my eye settled upon was this pair of clogs on the shed door. How stereotypical is that? I found it hilarious, and laughed about it. I was told that people DO actually where those wooden clogs in Holland. Ha. Guess it's a stereotype for a reason, eh?
I started to notice all of these snails, so I looked just a teensy bit harder and noticed they were, indeed, just about all over the back yard. I found one on the patio furniture, promptly named him Fred and had him slime around on my hand as I took photos of him.
After a while, I put Fred back down, I went grocery shopping, then came back, ate dinner, and spent the rest of the night resting and watching television.
Photographer, visual artist, mother to four fur-babies, and travel enthusiast.