Hi Everyone; I've been lurking on this site for several months and have learned a tremendous amount--Thank You all! Anyhow, my husband, two children and I just purchased our "homestead"--a house with 24 wooded acres on a 38 acre lake in Central Virginia. We love it, but it needs lots of work to make it "our home." I have a question that I was hoping some of you may be able to help answer. Our house has a very plain great room which I would like to spruce up by putting wood beams around the three entryways in the room. (My husband and I love post and beam homes and although this house isn't a post and beam, I'm hoping to give it a more "woodsy, rustic" look by adding the beams. Anyhow, the beams would need to be approximately 5 inches square in order to fit in the walls properly. My question is what would be the best way to get these beams? We have tons of trees on our property (primarily oak, black walnut and poplar). We also have a number of trees that are blowdowns as a result of Hurricane Isabel last year (so they've been on the ground for a year). Can or should we use this blowdown wood? If not, if we cut down a couple of live trees, what's the best way for us to properly "dry/cure" the wood. I've also called the local sawmill and they will cut beams for us (using their own wood, they won't use ours) for a pretty reasonable price. However, I don't believe that wood has been properly dried--and the sawmill operator said it shouldn't be too much of a problem. However, everything I've read here indicates that wood should dry for many months before using it to build a house. Any insight or ideas anyone could provide would be most welcome. Thank you in advance!