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Mike Bihlmaier – 815-404-6375 – and his skateboarding avatar, the bear, have completed the chainsaw carving of our bicentennial oak.

He began the final animals by roughing in the doe and her fawn at the base of the tree.


While the curious squirrel looked on from above.

Meanwhile, the wood chips piled up higher, and higher.

At last, the deer were fully hatched.

While elks Joan and Fred looked on from behind the stone wall.

All the remains is to give the oak its new protective coating, take down the scaffold and clean up the scraps, and maybe add some initials and an autograph (see final edition to come, in a few days).

Artist Mike continues to discover new occupants. Here’s a long look at work to date.Now we see a nest taking shape. And so here they are, a wise mother owl enfolding her two chicks in her broad wing. And, now, another character scampers onto the tree — a curious squirrel! The owls better keep a close eye on Mr. Squirrel.

When I contemplated our gracious bicentennial oak tree, here at the edge of the forest of Applewood Lodge, I never imagined it populated by a cross-section of the animal kingdom, but now that chainsaw sculpturist Mike Bihlmaier (http://www.7-sons.com/) of Marengo, IL is at it, the first creature has emerged.

It is a red-tailed hawk.

Over the next week, Mike will be adding many other birds and animals of our property to the old oak, including at least one cat, because we have the feral variety on hand, as well as our trusty house cats. Watch this site for more postings, as they arrive. Here is the scaffolding from which Mike is working, and some shots of the work in progress to date.

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