Up, up and away!

CANBY?- On Wednesday night on a farm near Canby, Westley Skogen, 19, was performing the final tests on a trebuchet he and his family built for their family reunion near Vesta this weekend.

Hauling on a block and tackle, he pulled a long lever arm attached to a frame and holding a weighted bucket on the short end down to the frame and secured it with a hook. Westley Skogen laid a long net on the floor of the device and placed a two-liter plastic jug of water in it.

Pulling on the trigger caused the weight to drop, sending the long end of the arm in a wide arc that whipped the sling around. The jug of water flew high into the air and came crashing down on the lawn.

Westley Skogen’s father, Brian, paced off the distance.

“Almost 60 yards,” Brian Skogen said.

A trebuchet is a medieval siege engine, a kind of ancient artillery piece once used to throw stones against castle walls.

A trebuchet uses a long lever attached to an axel near on end with a counterweight on the short end and a sling on the long end. It’s different from a catapult, which is powered by the tension in twisted ropes. They were known to have been used by the Byzantine Empire in the 6th century A.D. and in China as early as the 5th century B.C.

Westley Skogen and his brother Kyle, 18, started work on the trebuchet on the July 4th weekend with some help from their father. They built it mostly from scrap lumber found around the farm and some pallets for the base Brian Skogen salvaged.

“The general design I got from a couple of physics websites and added some personal attachments,” Westley Skogen said.

The structure is 10 feet tall, mounted on a base 10 feet long. The arm is one two-by-four sandwiched between two 2-by-6 boards. The counterweight is a 37- liter jug of water and about 16 window sash weights Westley found around the house, weighing a total of 200 pounds.

The Skogen family is ready to show the trebuchet off at the reunion, where they expect about 60 relatives to show up.

This isn’t the first device the Skogens have brought to a reunion.

“It was a pneumatic cannon last year,” Brian Skogen said. “We try to do something different every year. We started with the pop bottle rocket, the kind you launch two-liter bottles with.”

The Skogens showed the air cannon, a long tube with valves, an air gauge and an air chamber that can be charged from a pump.

According to Brian and Westley, they first tried it with a golf ball, which they shot through a sheet of three-quarter inch plywood and 400 yards beyond.

This year, they plan something with a little less impact.

“Our plan is to throw water balloons in the air and let the kids get wet,” Brian Skogen said.