Cabin Life – #95

The chickens have become escape artists.  I don’t know how they figured Whitey and Midgetout the elaborate trap of chicken wire and plastic that comprises the door to the run, but they’ve managed to get out for two days straight.

I don’t mind letting them roam around when I’m around.  But as the weather gets colder and the predators get more desperate for calories, I’m thinking that the door to the run may have to be reconfigured.  It’s sad to admit, but my half-assed door can’t even contain a bunch of literal bird brains.

It is nice to see them out and about in the yard though.  They have thoroughly picked over the spots where the run had been, and have even seemed to have found some food left over in those spots.  I like seeing them come running up to the front door when I walk out, or see them flying for twenty or thirty feet.  They appear to be happy and content, and their tail feathers are sticking up higher than ever.  I’m not sure how much I should read into the angle of their feathers, but I heard somewhere that if their tail feathers are up, then they’re happy.

At least they have been putting themselves to bed every night.  Usually just past dark I’ll go out and all four of them are huddled up on the perch inside the coop.  They snuggle and cuddle and have so far kept themselves warm, but we haven’t had any of those bitterly cold nights.  Yet.

Since the solar panel has been working well, I figured I should buy a heat lamp for the chickens.  It won’t be long before it gets really cold, and since I don’t want to have four more roommates for the night, I have to heat the coop somehow.

I bought one of those cheap clip-on lamps, an extension cord, and a pack of light bulbs.  I honestly cannot remember the last time I bought light bulbs.  It felt weird.  But I came home and set to installing the heat lamp.

Now, for most people this would entail screwing in the light bulb and then plugging in the cord.  That would be the end of it.   But for me, it involved almost two hours worth of work which included two hand drills, a hammer, chisel, a new hole in my house and an eye pecked by a chicken.

The only drills I have are two hand-crank augers that I picked up at the junk store in Saranac Lake.  For five bucks each, they were a good deal.  That price however, does not include time used in actually cranking those things.  With an electric drill it may have taken me fifteen minutes for the entire project.  But with the low speed of a hand-cranked drill, I could not spin the size bit I needed to be able to fit an outlet through it.

I did manage to make a nice circular mark in the linoleum floor indicating where exactly I needed to remove material.  But that big bit was not spinning anymore.  So, I pull out a small bit and start drilling.  All the way around the hole marked by one bit, I had to make twelve very small holes.  After that, I used the chisel to knock out the hole.

I then had to go outside, remove some of the stones that line the base of the cabin, and reach up to feed the extension cord up through the newly made hole.  Of course, me crawling around on the ground attracted the attention of the escapee chickens.  Midget, who is now full sized, has no fear of me and runs up to me all the time.  This time however, she decided that she would be content to just peck at my face while I was on the ground with both hands occupied searching blindly for a one inch hole in the floor.

As I closed my eyes and turned my head to avoid the love taps from Midget, I finally found the hole.  But of course, the cord did not fit easily through the hole.  I jammed it in there and went inside to pull it through the rest of the way.

I pulled the cord up into the cabin and plugged it in to the inverter.  I had left the lamp in the “on” position so that I could turn it on and off from inside just by pulling the cord from the inverter.  I proudly plugged it in to see if it was working, and sure enough, it was.  I then proceeded to watch two hours of TV on my computer using the battery.  As dusk turned into darkness, I thought maybe I should turn on the light for its first night of use.  But I had drained the battery watching TV.  Luckily, it wasn’t that cold out last night.

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Cabin Life – #91

Winter is approaching, and rather more quickly than I would really like.  Fall ColorsSure, I’ve got the new stove and a shed chock full of dry hardwood, but I have to admit that I’ve really enjoyed our summer-like fall.
“They” are calling for snow next week, but we’ll see what happens.

I had an inkling that this was coming anyway.  Yes, I know that it’s October and that it’s a reasonable assumption to think that we’ll be getting snow soon.  But last Friday, I got home from work and opened the front door.  I let Pico and the cats out to enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.  But when I went inside the cabin, I found a sight that told me winter was right around the corner.

The big window was literally covered in ladybugs.  The little ladies and gents like to winter in houses, and since my place is the only building around for quite a distance, it only makes sense that they would seek shelter with me.  But the amount of ladybugs trying to get into my house told me that there would be cold and snow before the forecasters ever did.

Shortly after that, I made a trip to the outhouse.  I don’t talk about my outhouse a lot because I figured that not many (if any) of you would really want to hear about it.  But don’t worry, this story will not be rich in detail.

My outhouse is a piece of junk.  It was apparently built for people even shorter than me, and has at different times been used for target practice.  So despite the small door and low ceiling, there is actually quite a bit of cross-ventilation created by the small holes where the twenty-two caliber shells went through the walls.

As I was sitting there, I heard a familiar sound.  It was the scratchy scramble of a mouse.  There are a couple of mice that call the cabin home, but so far they stay in the walls and don’t really bother me.  But a mouse in the outhouse, that’s something new.

I glanced around and noticed some small pieces of paper trapped in a spider web near the upper corner.  I had accidentally left the toilet paper holder open, and the mouse had helped itself to some of the wrapper.  As I looked around, I also noticed that one of the pieces of plywood that make up the ceiling was peeling apart.  I caught a glimpse of something moving up there and decided that this was a better setup than having them move into the cabin.

A few days later, I was again entering the outhouse and movement caught my eye.  Three very little mice were scrambling up from the seat to the ceiling.  They were in no hurry, and mama mouse leisurely followed them up the wall and into their little nest.

I have to admit, those little mice were awfully cute.  I had no intention of evicting them from their spot, and just need to remember to close the toilet paper holder.  And at this point, I honestly hope they have enough shelter to get them through the winter.  I mean, they did pick a crappy place to live.

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Cabin Life – #87

Every once in a while, I reach for the faucet to turn on the water.  This usually happens The Girlswhen I’m brushing my teeth, but even though there’s a dish rag hanging on the spout and I haven’t had running water in almost two years, this old habit dies hard.

Summer, on the other hand, is dying a very easy and quick death.  As I walked out into the front yard this morning, I noticed a small maple that was almost entirely red.  The birches are beginning to turn yellow and even the big cherry tree in the yard was not so green anymore.

The days have been warm and the nights cool, feeling more like the heart of fall than the end of August.  This is my favorite type of weather, but I’m not quite ready for it yet.  I still want some summer.

Even though we had a late start to summer and what looks like an early end to it as well, I have gotten a lot done, and had a lot of fun.  The wood shed is built and half full, I got the house shed cleaned up and organized, and the chickens are happy in their coop and run.

But really they might not be that happy.  I put them out in the run every day so they can eat bugs and plants and stuff like that.  Every morning I open the coop door and they all fly right in to the run, and in the evening they hop back up the ramp and into the coop to roost for the night.

Since they’re only out during the day, the run is not built as a completely predator-proof structure.  It’s very safe with chicken wire and metal roofing, but the end that I let them in and out of is just a mix of some wire, a piece of wood and some old plastic insulation.  Like I said, this is built to keep them, not keep predators out.  Still, every day when I get home I look into the run on my way up the driveway just to make sure all the girls are still there.

We had a pretty nasty thunderstorm come through yesterday while I was at work.  I thought of the chickens, but was not too worried about them.  However, when I got home, I noticed the insulation flapping in the wind.  I had tacked it shut like always, but the wind had blown it wide open.  There were no chickens in the run.

Pico was barking and Ed was crying at the window, and it had been a long day for Pico and the cats.  I had gotten a flat tire on the way home and so they had been cooped up for ten hours or so.  But I knew that if I let them out, there’s no way I would be able to catch the missing chickens.  That is, assuming the girls hadn’t been eaten yet.

Even though I had kind of self-vowed not to get too attached to the girls, I was worried about them.  There are so many wild animals out here that could easily snatch up a chicken and trot off into the woods.  Chances are all I would find would be a couple piles of feathers to tell where the girls had been eaten.

Then it dawned on me.  All along, when I fed the chicks, I had always called out “Hey Ladies!” ala the Beastie Boys.  I was hoping that Pavlov was right and the girls would associate my call with the presence of food.  I called out and within a few seconds, Midget and Brownie came out of the tall grass and trotted right up to me.  I smiled and grabbed them and tossed them in the coop.  I called out again and both Blondie and Whitey came out as well.  I had to chase Whitey as usual but I finally caught her and put her in the coop as well.  Blondie jumped in on her own when I opened the door.  I tossed in a handful of bird seed to keep them happy.  After all, my distinct chicken call had worked well, so I guess I want to keep them coming to it.

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Cabin Life – #84

It’s another beautiful summer night with fall weather.  Ed is helping me out The Girlsby sticking his butt in my face and stepping on random keys on the computer.  He’s always a big help in his own way.

We had a bit of a milestone out here at the cabin this week.  The chickens are no longer residing in a large box on the porch, but instead are enjoying their new digs and much larger coop.  While it’s not quite done, it is habitable and since there are no building codes or inspections for small wooden boxes, I figured the girls could use the room to stretch their wings.

It must be a big improvement, going from a box that almost always had a cat sleeping on top of it to a detached coop complete with nesting boxes and a perch.  Not that they’re going to be laying eggs anytime soon, but I have some idea of how they feel.  I too live in a small, cramped area with three other living beings.  Hey, at least the chicks never had to step in cat puke at two in the morning.  They just had to deal with seeing Herbie and Ed’s bellies all the time.

I used an old cart to build the coop, and again, the total cost of the project was only a box of screws.  Much like the woodshed, the coop is not square, but it is functional and will keep the birds dry.  I’m really happy with the way it’s coming so far, even though I still have a fair amount of work to do on it.  I need another door, latches and some small windows still, but it is a big step up for the girls.

I was very happy with myself when I was finally able to move the chicks into the coop.  I should have done this a while ago, but they seem happy in their new home now.  As I stood there in the sun, smugly enjoying the non-masterpiece of carpentry I had just completed, I thought how nice it would be when I get the one wheel fixed and can move the coop so it butts up against the chicken run we built a while ago.

The thought occurred to me that the girls will be very happy when they have a nice safe outdoor area right next to their home when I realized that I had never actually measured the coop and the run with the point of seeing whether they would fit together.  My shoulders drooped and I ran inside to grab the tape measure.

Obviously I had measured each structure while I was building them.  But building them so they would fit together just never entered my mind, even though that was the plan all along.  Maybe I shouldn’t have built the run two weeks before I got chickens and then built the coop two months after I got them.  I should have built them together.

I measured from the ground to the roof of the coop on the back side and got forty-two inches.  I literally ran around the cabin to the run and measured from the ground up to the lower edge of the top of the run.  Forty-three inches!  I couldn’t believe my luck and I was ecstatic.  My shoulder’s drooped again as I  had another realization.  The run was tall enough, but was it wide enough?  I measured the width and ran back to the coop.

I knew on my way that it would not fit, because the coop was forty inches wide without the roof, and the run was only forty-one inches wide.  Sure enough, the roof width was about forty-four inches.  With the overhang of the roof, I was not going to be able to fit the coop snuggly inside of the open end of the run.  Thoughts ran though my head as I pondered rigging chicken wire around the sides to keep the girls safe.  There was a quick mental image of a new door built into the run so I could access it.  But I want to be able to move the coop and run.  This was getting complicated quickly.

I stood there, slightly dejected staring at the coop as if an answer would suddenly pop out of thin air.  I ran through multiple scenarios, each more work than the last, and far more complicated than I really want to get with this whole setup.  Suddenly it dawned on me:  I own a hack saw.  I can just trim the back of the roof so that it still fully covers the coop but allows me to slide it into the end of the run.  Problem solved!

I grabbed the hack saw and walked back out to the coop.  Then I remembered that the girls were in the coop, and using a hack saw on the roof probably would not be good for their psyche or their hearing.  I’ve held off on trimming the roof, justifying it by saying that the girls need to stay in there for a while to get used to it.  Plus, I can’t move the coop right now anyway because of the busted wheel.  That’s what I’ve been telling myself anyway.  It’s a lie, and I could do the roof right now.  But I spent a lot of time on this coop, and I kind of need a break.  If anyone asks though, it’s because of the girls’ hearing.  Yeah, their ears, that’s it.

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Cabin Life – #74

Despite the half inch of snow we got earlier this week, spring is rolling The Water Barrel Spiggotalong.  I jerry-rigged a rain barrel, and I like not having to rely on small supply of drinking water to take care of the garden.  The thirty-five gallon barrel has a spigot on it and I set it up right next to the garden.  Unfortunately, I do not yet have the barrel set up properly.  I have a gutter that runs along the front porch, and a five gallon bucket that sits under the end of the gutter.  When we get rain and the bucket fills, I take the bucket a few feet to the barrel and dump the water in the top.  It’s not the best design, but it’s working well.

My tray of seedlings is doing ok, even though I forgot to pull them inside the other night during a frost.  Luckily all the seeds that had sprouted survived, but I have a few trays with nothing growing in them.  The carrots, spinach and tomatoes better get their acts together.

But the peas, lettuce and broccoli are doing well, and even though it would be nice to have a big garden full of food, I’m content to take what I can get.  Plus, my garden is pretty small, so I may have over done it on the seedlings.

In fact, I’m going to have to prep another area for a second garden.  The first garden is right next to the front porch, on the south side of the cabin, where it gets full sun all day long.  I figured it would be the perfect spot since animals are unlikely to bother it and I don’t have to walk to get to the garden.  I sometimes surprise myself with these little bouts of laziness that are only apparent when I write them down.  Having the garden right there seemed efficient to me, but now that I’m telling all of you my reason, it just seems lazy.

However, my laziness is not prevalent in my life and I know this because it took me almost four hours to get my two-foot by four-foot garden ready.  Amy had told me that the previous occupants had used this little section as an herb garden, and so I assumed, incorrectly, that I would be able to just weed the little area and then plant away.

I pulled a few inches of roots, grass, and other assorted weeds out of the bed and then grabbed a garden rake to start to loosen up the soil.  That didn’t work too well since it has been so long since this area has been used, and I moved up to a hoe.  With my first swing of the hoe, I heard that distinctive metal-on-rock sound.  I also heard that same sound with the next swing, and the next.

It soon became apparent that a hoe and rake were not going to be sufficient.  The soil that was in the garden was only a couple inches deep, and underneath was nothing but rocks.  Either the people who used this spot as a garden were full of it, or they only grew very small plants that did not need a lot dirt to work into.

I grabbed a shovel and rock bar and started to get to work.  For a little while, it went well, with me being able to pull out about twenty grapefruit-sized rocks.  Then I got to the big guy.  After removing as much dirt as I could, I grabbed the rock bar and started to find the edges.  This rock turned out to be big enough that if it had been closer to the foundation, I would not have removed it for fear of undermining my house.

When the rock was uncovered and I could see what I was dealing with, I knew that I still had a lot of work to do.  There was no way I was lifting this rock (technically I think it’s a boulder).  I dismantled a couple feet of stone wall and dug out the dirt.  Then using the rock bar and shovel, I was able to roll the big rock out through the whole I had made.  It rolled a couple feet down the little hill, and for now, that’s where it’s staying.  I figure it’s not doing any harm where it is, and that will be a little less grass I’ll have to mow this summer.  I admit, it’s lazy.  But that rock is one thing that I am more than happy to be lazy about.

Cabin Life – #73

The first clouds we’ve seen in a while are rolling in, and there have even Apple Budsbeen a couple drops of rain that have fallen from the sky.  So instead of writing this while lying in the hammock, I’m sitting in the old rocking chair on the front porch.  I can see the four-wheeler, the wood pile, and the lawn chairs that I’ve been too lazy to put away.  The grass is turning green except for the area where I almost always park.  That grass is dead and carries the color of dried wheat.  Other than that, the colors are coming out, and the rain we’re about to (hopefully) get will only make them brighter.

A coworker commented to me that the colors of spring are just as nice as the colors of fall, but no one seems to care or notice.  Sitting here looking out over the upper field and on to the slopes of the hill out back, I can see his point.  Everyone comes to the Adirondacks to enjoy the fall foliage.  They don’t know exactly when it’ll be, so they watch the news and try to time it right to hit the peak color season in early October or so.

But right now there is a bounty of color that, when you take the time to notice it, is really pretty.  Beyond the grass of the yard, the apple trees are starting to show a dull lime green as the tiny leaves emerge.  The little poplars are glowing, and the maples are covered in deep red flowers.  The white birch bark stands out against the dark balsam needles and even the brown of the trees that aren’t blooming adds to the ambiance.

Right now, I can see the colors.  My eyes aren’t being bothered by allergies, as mornings are usually when I suffer the worst.  I’m hoping that we get this rain and it washes some of the pollen out of the air.  My car, which is normally a nice dark green is now a pale disgusting green with streaks down the sides from where the washer fluid flows when I cleaned my windshield.  It’s odd having to clean it of the dead bugs that are starting to splatter their yellow guts on my glass.

Just now, I heard the first few drops of rain on the tin roof of the porch.  We desperately need some rain, as it’s been almost two weeks since we got any precipitation.  In fact, the last time anything other than pollen fell from the sky, it was snow.  The little stream that runs behind my cabin is dry in most spots, and the seeds I started for the garden could use a little natural precipitation.

It’s amazing to me that after complaining about the amount of snow we got this year, I am now anxious for some rain.  The last two weeks have been nice but hot and dry.  There have been a few forest fires, and I hope that this summer is not a replay of last year.  But as it stands now, we’ve had a pleasant transition from winter to spring, and even though I got my first black fly bite of the year, I’m happy at the changing of the seasons.

There’s more birds around including lots of grouse and turkey.  I was woken up by a big tom turkey walking through the yard this morning.  He was calling loudly, looking for love.  I got up early and snuck out onto the porch to watch him walk through.  It’s turkey season, and if I was a hunter, I could have gotten this guy with no problem at all.  Lucky for him I’m not, but I did enjoy listening to him and watching him walk from the left trail through the lower field and down the driveway.  His bright red waddle was swinging side to side as he tramped around, and to me, it was just one more color to add to the palate of spring.

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Cabin Life – #71

Spring has decided to show up fashionably late.  I woke up to snow the last St Regis Summitcouple of days, and even though it’s been melted by lunch time each day, it has been discouraging to say the least.  However, even with the new snow showers, it is clear that winter is gone, even if spring hasn’t set in completely yet.

Pico and I went hiking the other day up St. Regis Mountain.  It was a crisp morning, but with clear skies forecasted all day, it seemed like a great opportunity to hike one of my old favorites before the bugs are out in any sort of force.  We set off and wandered through the woods down behind Paul Smiths and up the mountain.

I remember this trail well, as I worked as the summit steward on St. Regis when I was in college.  I definitely needed more time to get to the top than I did ten years ago, but Pico and I were on the summit soaking in the sun by ten in the morning.  It was sunny and clear and windy, allowing us to see the views with no obstruction.  There was a slight haze in the air, but not enough to ruin the sights.

As I sat there eating a candy bar and letting Pico wander about, I wished I had brought a jacket to cut the wind.  Sure, it was sunny but there was still a chill to the morning wind that made me not want to linger too long on the open summit.  The sun was warm but the air was cold and I could clearly still see plenty of ice on the lakes and ponds stretched below me.  Pico drank some water from a puddle and we headed back down the trail.

By the time we got back to the car, it was almost hot out.  Almost.  You know, hot for spring.  It’s amazing how different sixty degrees can feel in the fall compared to the spring.  In the fall, I would have been bundled up in jeans and a flannel, but in the sixty degree spring, I was changing into shorts and flip-flops just for the drive back to the cabin.

When we got back out to the cabin, I sat in the sun and just enjoyed the spring-time “quiet.”  There are a ton of birds around the cabin now, including robins, juncos and one of the largest hawks I’ve ever seen.  There is a lot of chatter and various birds hanging out in the apple trees together.  The woodpeckers are pecking away, looking for both food and a mate and the black-capped chickadees are flitting about in the yard, largely ignoring the feeders.

Last year, I didn’t keep the feeders full in the summer.  There are bears and red squirrels out here, along with other animals that I really don’t feel like attracting to my cabin.  But I think this fall I’ll start filling the feeders a little earlier, so that I get some of these other birds to stick around.  It’s not that I blame them for heading south for the winter, but it would be nice to share the cold with a few more wild friends.  I just prefer the birds to the bears when it comes to my wild companions.

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Cabin Life – #61

Evening Entertainment
Psychologically, I am ready for winter to be over.  I like the snow and the skiing and the trips to the gym that I just can’t justify when it’s nice out, but I would really like some nice warm days to come our way.  Maybe I’m not ready for winter to be completely done, but I could use a February or early March thaw.

I was sitting here reading the other night, when the radio suddenly turned off.  This is a common occurrence, due to the fact that my radio is a “solar” radio.  I put solar in quotes because this is what the radio was advertised as, but it is, in fact a crank/rechargeable radio that happens to have a small solar panel on it.

This past summer I spent a little bit of money getting solar lights and this radio.  Last winter I had used an old digital alarm clock for my radio.  That clock was the same one that’s been waking me up since I was a freshman in high school.  It was a good, old-fashioned plug in clock radio that had a battery backup so that if the power went out, your alarm would still go off.  I went through a lot of nine-volt batteries listening to NCPR last winter, so many that I had to repair the wire harness a few times.  I took that clock radio to the campground last spring and decided to leave it there when I got my new solar radio.

The reception that I get on the new radio is good, but tuning it is a hassle and if I don’t charge it in the car then I will inevitably spend a significant portion of my evening cranking the thing so that I’m not sitting here in an eerie, mind-numbing, depression-inducing silence.

All that being said though, I wonder how long I would last without it.  Now, admittedly, I live in a writer’s dream.  Solitude, peace, quiet, and lots of inspiration surround me.  I like the peace and quiet, with no neighbors’ dogs barking or loud vehicles driving by.  I like the lack of distraction when I’m writing and reading.  But riding out the winter with its long nights would most definitely be a lot more trying if not for the company of the radio.

I suppose that when you deprive yourself of a lot of distractions, it becomes a luxury to have a little something going on in the background.  I have friends that have come to visit the North Country and can’t sleep because there’s no sound of traffic or sirens to listen to as they drift off.  I don’t have that problem.  There’s no shortage of noise out here, it’s just not the type of noise created by planes, trains and automobiles.

Between the wood crackling in the stove and two rambunctious, mostly nocturnal cats, I have plenty of sound to drift off to.  Throw Pico’s gentle snoring into the mix and the sound of the ever-present wind blowing around the cabin and it’s basically a symphony of natural sounds all night long.  But there’s sometimes I just don’t feel like listening to the wind or to Ed and Herbie wrestling.  That’s when the radio becomes important.  The distraction of music or talk radio or whatever is on gives me a much needed respite from the regular sounds this cabin makes.

When the sun goes down at four-thirty in the afternoon, it’s the radio that keeps me awake until seven.  When I don’t know if I should bother shoveling in the morning, it’s the radio that lets me know.  And it’s not that I have the radio on all the time.  I can’t write with the radio on, but I can read and play Scrabble.  I don’t change the station that frequently because it’s a bother, so I often listen to talk radio or music for a week at a time.  Sure, the radio I got may be under-performing.  However, it’s my lifeline to the outside world and my one source of passive electronic entertainment.  And if that means that I have to spend ten minutes cranking it to listen to twenty minutes of music, I guess I’ll just have to be ok with that.

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Cabin Life – #57

The Little Stream
Well, the January thaw made for a nice weekend, even though the skiing suffered a little bit.  It was warm enough last Sunday that I actually was able to get the four wheeler going and plow the driveway.  I only had to hike in for a week or so, and can now once again drive all the way up to the cabin.  I really didn’t mind the hike and since the four-wheeler won’t start unless the temperature is about forty degrees, I’m sure I’ll be hiking in again before winter’s over.

It was also a nice break for the wood stove, and more importantly, my wood supply.  Or more specifically, my dry hardwood supply.  The stacks of wood were definitely in need of a break.

I have three wood piles.  One is out in front of the cabin, under the big window covered by a couple of blue tarps that are pretty tattered.  This wood pile rests on top of a bunch of old metal roofing and consists of mostly pine and poplar.  There’s some maple in there too, but not much.  This is my “junk wood” pile.

The second wood pile is stashed neatly in the shed that is attached to cabin. It is safely ensconced in the shelter of four walls and a cheap but solid roof.  There is a heavy wooden door with a massive iron latch to keep the elements out, and other than soft snow that gets blown in through some cracks, the wood is well protected.  This pile is all cherry, maple, oak and ash.  The third wood pile is in front of the shed, split and drying, waiting to be added to as I cut more trees for next year’s wood supply.

This fall, I actually had to buy some wood from a guy I work with.  The supply I cut last year was pathetically small, and once summer rolled around, I figured it was too late to have dry wood for the winter.  I stacked about a cord and half of the stuff I had done in the shed, and then had two cords delivered.  This all went in the shed as well.  I left the junk wood out in front and figured I could mix a little in here and there.  But I also figured I wouldn’t have to do that until some time in February.  It’s now the middle of January and I’ve been mixing in junk wood for almost a month.

I figured wrong on how much wood I would need this year.  But now that I’ve been paying attention, I know how much to do for next year.  My little four-hundred square foot cabin will need five cords of wood to heat.  This seems like a lot to me, and it seems like a lot of work.  I have also vowed to myself that I will not be paying for firewood next year, because, you know, I live in the woods.

But the amount of wood I’ll need to lay in for next winter is far more than can fit in the shed.  I’ll have to build a new wood shed, but one that is not attached to the cabin.  I’m going to build big so that I have some room for extra wood plus a little storage.  This is one project I can do for free from building materials that are just lying around here.  It’s not going to be pretty or square or level, but it’ll be tough enough to hold up.  There’s a good spot with southern exposure where I’m going to build, and the new shed will hold a prominent place in my yard.  This way, everyone will be able to bask in its functionality.

The plan is to take a bunch of small pines and spruces for the upright supports and use old metal roofing.  There are huge old planks of wood scattered around that will make perfect sides.  No piece of lumber out here is the same width and thickness, so I can safely say that this wood shed will have some character to it.  The very short lean-to is like that, as is the front porch with the unintentionally swooping roof.  Yup, that misshapen wood shed is going to fit right in.

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