Friday, September 22, 2017

One that got away - a Lincoln County barn

If you have been following for more than a couple of days now, both of you, you have been seeing lots of photos of this Adirondack Project out at the cabin.

But just like every thing else on this blog, there seems to be a story to go along with parts of it.

In this case it is part of the foundation 'The Project' stands on.

The foundation was not originally built for this shelter.

Instead, it was built for this small log barn you can see to the left in the second photo.

Back in the late 90's while driving around Lincoln County Mo., I came across an old small barn out in a field.
It had not been used for a very long time.
The roof was partially gone, and trees were hugged up real tight to its sides.
One had actually damaged a few logs.

A couple of friends and myself took it down one Sunday in the winter.
The barn measured 16' x 16'. The logs were fairly small and it had pretty wide gaps between the logs.

I built a foundation right away and got the logs up very quickly.

And then the project stalled. I bought a house, money had to go else where, time had to be spent on other things . .  you know the story.

After sitting un-roofed for several years, the already not great logs got even worse. To the point where the repairs required made the project no longer feasible.
Eventually I took the logs down, but left the foundation.

While I wish I had made the time to finish the little barn, and save the logs, I like what I ended up doing with the foundation.

Books to read while sitting around your cabins fire (We will call this B2R from now on)

Cooler weather is slowly approaching here in Missouri. Today is the fall equinox, Sept 22nd.
So my thoughts start roaming towards cooler days and chilly nights when the fires soft glow warms the spaces in the cabin.

Or if you prefer, taking a break outside by the open fire and reading while the sun warms your back.
No matter what image you come up with, this is the time to start bringing out the books suitable for cabin reading. And when it comes right down to it, it probably doesn't really matter what you read, just take the time and do it.

I am going to try to post at least one book a week till spring time, maybe more, that makes me want to be outside as the weather cools. We will see how that goes.

Whether with a cup of tea or hot chocolate, or a glass of wine, lets get comfortable and enjoy.

For my first suggestion I am going to go down very familiar ground and start with one of my favorite outdoor writers, one I have talked about here a few times.

As I have mentioned here many times, in the late 70's I had the chance to work in some of the most beautiful wilderness in the country, the area called Baxter State Park in Maine.

We were given a list of suggested books to explore that dealt a lot with the area I was going to work in.
One of the authors suggested was Edmund Ware Smith. And he was one of the ones I chose to familiarize myself with the area. Mr. Smith over the years wrote for many of the popular outdoor magazines like Ford Times, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, etc.

I don't remember which of these two was the first I read, but it doesn't matter, I was hooked.
Either will do to start with.
Both tell stories of the areas local fishing and hunting and characters. Many true and many not so true, but still lots of fun.

You can smell the wood smoke and hear the loons as you read along with Mr. Smith.

I wanted a tar paper roof on my first cabin after reading his description of the sound of rain on a tar paper roof.

The call of the loon is exactly like Mr. Smith describes it.
You can see your canoe paddle cutting through the still lake water as you read the stories.

One of my favorites is the tale of a young man taking his father for his last canoe ride.
The father had died while at the hunting camp and the tale is a paddle down memory lane as the son take him back to the boat landing for the last time.

His books were hard to come by for many years, with old copies starting around $75.00.
But now reprints of some of his books are easily available.

It also didn't hurt that I loved the artist who did the illustrations.

I was also lucky in that Mr. Smiths cabin was just a short hike down an old logging road from where I worked.
I was able to see many of the places he would write about, some just down by the lake in front of his cabin.
Some of the people he wrote about still lived nearby and I got to know them pretty well and kept in touch for many years. This really brought the stories to life.

Mr. Smith had been dead for several years before I came to Maine, but his family still owned the property and I was able to visit it a few times, and walked by it many times.

I go back to these stories quite often and enjoy the return to the Maine woods.

I hope you enjoy the visit also.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Shingles on - time for a break - The Project

Took yesterday off work and headed out to the cabin early. Wanted to get the shingles on before any bad weather moves in.

By eight a.m. I was up on the roof hard at it.

Finished the west (back) side and moved here to the east (front) side.

 This is from the south-west side showing the big cabin and the Adirondack shelter.
 From the porch.
 Expanded from the porch.
Does it look at all like the below drawing I did way back at the beginning?

Worked at it all day and like how it looks in the end. Here from the north west. I think this will be my favorite view.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

John Burroughs Cabin 'Slabsides', New York


Little Log Cabin by Robert Service


When a man gits on his uppers in a hard-pan sort of town,
An' he ain't got nothin' comin' an' he can't afford ter eat,
An' he's in a fix for lodgin' an' he wanders up an' down,
An' you'd fancy he'd been boozin', he's so locoed 'bout the feet;
When he's feelin' sneakin' sorry an' his belt is hangin' slack,
An' his face is peaked an' gray-like an' his heart gits down an' whines,
Then he's apt ter git a-thinkin' an' a-wishin' he was back
In the little ol' log cabin in the shadder of the pines.

When he's on the blazin' desert an' his canteen's sprung a leak,
An' he's all alone an' crazy an' he's crawlin' like a snail,
An' his tongue's so black an' swollen that it hurts him fer to speak,
An' he gouges down fer water an' the raven's on his trail;
When he's done with care and cursin' an' he feels more like to cry,
An' he sees ol' Death a-grinnin' an' he thinks upon his crimes,
Then he's like ter hev' a vision, as he settles down ter die,
Of the little ol' log cabin an' the roses an' the vines.

Oh, the little ol' log cabin, it's a solemn shinin' mark,
When a feller gits ter sinnin' an' a-goin' ter the wall,
An' folks don't understand him an' he's gropin' in the dark,
An' he's sick of bein' cursed at an' he's longin' fer his call!
When the sun of life's a-sinkin' you can see it 'way above,
On the hill from out the shadder in a glory 'gin the sky,
An' your mother's voice is callin', an' her arms are stretched in love,
An' somehow you're glad you're goin', an' you ain't a-scared to die;
When you'll be like a kid again an' nestle to her breast,
An' never leave its shelter, an' forget, an' love, an' rest.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Project - so what comes next?

Once the shingles go on and the logs are safe from the weather, what comes next?

Well, I will probably take a break from this project for a couple of months to work on daughters tree-house.

But after that, it will be time to fill in the space between the logs.

This is called 'chinking' or 'chinking and daubing'.

I have always just called the whole process chinking, but I can't claim that to be official and lots of other reading suggests people like to have two names for the process, so we will go with  'Chinking' and 'Daubing'.

Back in the good old days, if a structure was just going to be used for animals the logs would either be left un-chinked or have boards over the openings. And unfortunately, if it were going to be a slave cabin, it may have only been boarded also.

When I took down this old building which I call 'The Pitts Blacksmith Shop', which became the smaller cabin on my property, as you can see, it had the gaps just covered with boards.

This served the purpose of just keeping the wind out for the animals or, in this case, a working blacksmith.

Log buildings that would be used as a home in climates that had lots of cooler weather, had to do something more than just putting boards over the gaps.


The most common method was to put some kind of solid filler between the logs first, such as wood or stone.
  And then some kind of compound over this.
  Usually a combination of clay, mud, straw or horse hair would cover the solids.
  In this picture of the finished 'Pitts Blacksmith Shop' I left the solids between the logs exposed on the top two rows as a teachable moment.

The white over the solids is my 'chinking' method.

 These next couple of photos show some of the ways solids have been put between the logs.

This cabin had pretty narrow gaps so just a few flat pieces of wood where needed.

If it had been a hewn log cabin, some of the 'chips' from the hewing would have been used.

 In this one, the gaps are bigger and the pieces of wood had to be stacked like fallen dominoes.
If wedged tightly this can also help support the logs, which keeps the chinking tighter.

Some sources just call the solids between the logs the 'chinking'.
This is also a very good way of supporting the logs with the solids.
Small stones are wedged beneath each other, once again like fallen dominoes. (I prefer this method because I think my 'daubing' material holds better to stone.)

As you can see in this cropped image of the 'Pitts' building, that is what I did here.

I like it because the rough surfaces of the stones makes a good platform for the covering to attach to.

Now, on the main cabin, the two story, I braced between the logs with bricks and stones to support the span, but because I had such a large area to do I used 1/4 inch hardware cloth as 'chinking', nailed to the logs to support the 'duabing'. If you plan, when rebuilding, to put insulation between the logs, this is the best method. (And I will take photos of this next time I am at the cabin. This method also makes it easy to run wiring between logs, just don't cement right on the wiring.)

'Daubing' (the white stuff)

 Now the next step is open to lots of debate.
  Some sources call placing the covering layer on the solids 'daubing'. I still just refer to the whole process as 'chinking'.
  But for this discussion lets go ahead and give it it's own name and call it daubing.
  I have only ever used one kind of daubing, it was what I was taught.
And so far it has worked for me.
  (In this image the 'daubing' has been patched or repaired many times. Probably because the logs get to much exposure to the weather.)

But there are lots of arguments over which kind of material is best for the 'chinking'.

The daubing I have always used is a Portland cement, lime and sand mixture. And if mixed right it is very easy to apply. 8 sand, 2 cement, one lime, unless you like it real white, then just add more lime. But make sure each batch is consistent.

  I like a very white 'daubing' between the logs to make the gray of the logs stand out, but that is an individual choice. (You can also get a powdered dye if you want it to look more natural like clay or mud.)
  Here on the main cabin you can see how the white stands out.
  Draw backs with this method are; It is very hard to replace or fix.
If your foundation is not good, and the logs move a lot, it can crack or move away from the logs.
I have had neither of those problems with mine, as of yet, in 20 plus years.

Modern 'daubing' is made from a flexible synthetic material and is easy to apply and repair.
It seals very well, is flexible, and being flexible, keeps any drafts from coming between the logs.

I have never used it.

But. . . if I were building a log building to live in everyday, I would probably try this.

My biggest concern with this method would be whether or not it would hold moisture against the logs.

It would require some research on my part.

Like I said earlier, old 'daubing' would have been made out of clay, mud, with some sort of binder like straw, grass or horse hair.

In taking down several cabins I have come across some mud, straw, horse hair chinking.

But at $227.00 for five gallons and with an only ten year warranty, (and about $12,000 - $15,000  to daub the whole cabin) I think for the projects on my property, I am going to stick with what I know and hope it lasts for many more years.