- Associated Press - Saturday, June 28, 2014

MILLIKEN, Colo. (AP) - A wooden pig named “Beans” is the new greeter - delivered just a few weeks ago - at Rubbin’ Buttz BBQ in Milliken.

Whole trees were caught under bridges and across private property during the Front Range flood in 2013. Soil was washed away, exposing roots.

“The trees became dangerous because nothing was holding them in the ground,” said arborist David Starr, owner of The Tree Guys LLC in Milliken.

Starr was hired by the Big Thompson Ditch company to remove logs and tree limbs after the flood.

He found a huge cottonwood tree log destined to be a wooden pig under the east side of U.S. 257 in the Little Thompson River. He and chain-saw artist John Baker came up with the idea to donate a carved pig to Rubbin’ Buttz because of the owners’ relief efforts during the flood.

That pig, which started as a massive tree washed down the river, now sits at the entrance to the small family-owned restaurant in Milliken and is a terrific photo opportunity and jungle gym for children, according to owner Amanda Nix.

Wood of all sizes sits on Starr’s property and Baker chooses various pieces to carve up as bears, eagle, squirrels, owls, wolves, lions and more.

“Sometime earlier this year, when John didn’t have anything to do, I said, ‘Carve me a pig,’” Starr said.

He wanted to donate it to the barbecue restaurant because, during the flood when Milliken was completely cut off, Amanda and Scott Nix served over 1,000 meals ($5,000 worth of food) to evacuees and emergency personnel.

The family was supposed to cater two parties that were flooded out, which meant they had a lot of extra food. They helped out that September weekend in Milliken, and then went to Longmont on that Monday for some of the first food relief efforts there.

The fat pig sculpture took five days to carve because the wood was so waterlogged.

“I was carving that thing and the chain saw was shooting water in my face,” Baker said. He carved the pig in a rough, cartoon-like style to fit the restaurant, which is different than his normal detailed, realistic-looking style.

Baker started his career as a self-taught chain-saw artist just a year ago. He keeps a couple of intricately carved bears in the back of his truck with a “For Sale” sign on them to act as a constantly moving advertisement. He has sold a lot of his designs that way.

“I got into it because so many people want these but can’t afford them,” he said.

When Starr, who is a friend with his tree business just yards away, said he and Baker wanted to donate a pig to the restaurant, Nix said suspiciously, “What kind of pig?,” thinking it was a live animal.

He clarified and she remembers saying, “Oh that would be cool. I just didn’t want a pig running around.”

She said she wanted it to be sturdy so children can sit on it. The potbellied wooden sculpture has marbles for eyes, a curly tail and wheels so he can be moved around the restaurant.

“Now, Beans is the main attraction for kids. My two little ones love the pig. The first two days we had it, they didn’t get off it,” Nix said.


Information from: Loveland Daily Reporter-Herald, https://www.reporterherald.com/

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