Friday, November 03, 2006

The Old Ways

Sometimes I think about how modern technology makes us more powerful than we really are. Machines allow us to perform almost unimaginable tasks. Machines eliminate the consequences of mistakes. Machines make things easy.

Yet, in reality, we remain no more than we ever were. Along the way, we forgot how to stand alone.

What was it like to face a forest and know you must build a home with your own hands? What was it like to find your own water and food? I wanted to feel those things. So I started to learn.

(Current state of construction.)

Building a log cabin: well, the first thing you feel is how small and limited you are. Even a modest sized tree (around 6 inch diameter) stores more than enough energy to crush you to into oblivion. A green log 12 feet long is HEAVY. You learn what your body can do. Then, the power of simple tools. Finally, you learn how essential it is to plan ahead.

It's been a great experience. Even with the grueling work.

And this weekend it's finally time to do the roof!


Bernita said...

Not me.
I was born in the backwoods, and I kiss my washer and dryer every day.

Anonymous said...

This is something I always have wanted to do. Maybe it is time to "make it happen"
What a delightful way to get in touch with a simpler life.
But, where are the windows?

anne said...

See, this is the reason why I don't own a Kitchenaid. ;)
The cabin looks really good, well done!

Jude said...

How inductrious! It looks great. You never know when that skill will come in handy. Getting back to nature is always good.

kate said...

there's nothing hotter than a man that's good with his hands. i totally think i have a crush on you now. lol.

anne frasier said...

jason, is that you? finally!!!! :D

good luck with the roof -- i hope this marks the beginning of progress reports and photos.

when i left the farm it was so hard for me to adapt to the city where i depend on other people for everything. it just seemed so wrong and so potentially dangerous. but i adjusted. now simon delivers brings groceries to my door. :D

Anonymous said...

I envy you. At my age, I no longer have the stamina, but I can still enjoy watching someone else. Good work.

normiekins said...

i would so be all over that project....!!!! it looks amazing....but i think knowing we go home to modern technology we still truly don't appreciate what we have and what our founding fathers endured.....maybe spending about 3 months there would.

Melissa Marsh said...

That is SO COOL, Jason. I think we all need to remember how things were accomplished back before the machines did everything. We've become rather lazy and complacent since computers took over our lives.

Can't wait to see the finished product...

Stephen Blackmoore said...

I've always been amazed by the hard work that has to go into something so simple as a shelter. Fantastic work. The most I've had to do is build a bridge and make a lean to. Both obnoxiously simple things in comparison. For one, I didn't have to fell a tree.

Don't know if you've ever read or seen the mini-series Connections. It raises the intereting question, as it traces how we got here from there, could we go back to being an agrarian society from where we are today? If the power went out, how many of us would know how to plow a field, catch a rabbit for dinner, build an adze (or even what an adze is)?

And, of course, there's the Foxfire books. Something tells me you already have these. ;-)

Best of luck with the cabin. Really looking forward to seeing your progress.

jenn said...

Ever read "Walden Pond" aka "In the Woods" by Henry David Thoreau? He was responding to the same sentiment, only he felt that way over a century ago. If only he could see us now.

Fran Piper said...

Writer, photographer, and now, unexpectedly, builder. And all in your spare time. Jason, you are an extraordinary person.

mermaid said...

Part of evolution is repeated regression to purify the present.

Well done!

Anonymous said...

Bernita, you got it out of your system early. Perfectly understandable!

JimmyJames, I do recommend it to anyone so inclined. As for the door, that is done last as far as construction goes. You have to nail in the frame to brace the logs, then cut out the opening. I'm not doing any windows, since this is meant to be a shed for tools, seed, etc.

Anne, ha! Glad to see a city girl roughing it. :D

Jude, if I had to disappear into the mountains, I could probably make a go of it. At least for a while. ;)

Kate, you're going to make me blush if you keep that up. :D

Anne, yes, after little boy pictures and a teenage one, you finally have the current model. As for the shift to city life...Simon? Wow. You can get kicked of the Grange for that, lol!

Steve, thanks! I wanted to do it when the opportunity and ability were there.

Normiekins, very very true. I still don't know the full press of the hardships, but I do savor the taste I've had. The cycle of the day meant so much more before we artificially extended daylight with electric lights. And since every task takes so much longer, you had to constantly keep busy. Until you were snowed in, of course. Then, look out. Cabin fever must have been very real.

Melissa, after we're there more than two days, even hot water taps seem miraculous. If you want hot water up there, you have to light some kind of fire and do it the old fashioned way.

Stephen, going back to an agrarian society would be an incredibly painful transition. Many people would not survive it, I think. A whole infrastructure of knowledge appropriate to that technological state would have to be reform. Enough of the knowledge survives, but it would take years and years to distribute itself again. ** I'll keep folks up to date on progress. :)

Jenn, thanks so much for the visit! In a way, Thoreau inspired me to do this. I was intrigued by the reconnection with nature he sought. I wanted to do something in the same vein (although clearly not to the extent he went).

Fran, what a huge compliment! Not sure it's deserved, but thank you! I'm just happy to do these things and share them. I'm thankful for people like you who enjoy experiencing them with me.

Mermaid, purify the present. I like that notion. Yes, without a firm grip on the past, we can lose our way.

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Jason,
How clever about the cabin.
Good show!
But I gather its symbolism is what speaks volumes.
Whenever I read your posts, I can smell the dewy leaves in the woods and taste the cold water from the brook. Today, I remember old childhood tales of treehouses.
Passion of the outdoors re-ignited through the clarity of night. Thank you, Jason.

Anonymous said...

wow, all I can say is QUITE impressive!


Anonymous said...

It's people that work as hard as you do that balance the tremendous laziness of people like myself. I do appreciate it, Jason. All is right with the world. *happy sigh*

Pondering the connections you've made here. Part of what I miss about my hometown (apparently near six million strong now) is... shoveling the snow.

Where I live now, still technically a city but alive with bizarre wildlife like... deer and stuff... everything comes in a bubble pack, everything involves driving, and everything involves air conditioning.

I feel I have less of a connection to nature here.

kathie said...

OMG this is amazing. I love that you actually took the steps to do this. I'd be dead in three days if left to my own pioneering devices...I mean, I could write about something-chronicle my final days as I'm foraging for food and unable to chop down trees for a house!

Joni said...

Wow, Jason. When you pick a hobby, you really go for it, don't you.
My deep admiration.

Did you get some sort of training before you did this, or did you just do it?

beadinggalinMS said...

Jason that is amazing!! We still have many trees in the woods down from Katrina that would be perfect for you to come build me one. LOL :)

Hubby and I often talk about what it would be like to have a place up in the mountians some where with no electric. How peaceful it would be. We would hunt, fish and grow a garden for our food. Live off the land and stuff. I think it sounds pretty awesome then I get to thinking wait I would not have my modern conviences like washer, dryer, computer. But then again as time goes on you would learn to adapt without these things. The days I am stuck in traffic with the car acting up, cell phone ringing nonstop, kids arguing I think yes I want the cabin in the mountians! :)

nice to see ya!!

Terri said...

When we lived in SA we used to go out to a friend's farm for a week or more at a time on holiday, and set up camp in an old, derelict farmhouse. There was no roof and at night we shared the place with bats. No running water. No heating. A week in the middle of nowhere, fishing, hunting, cooking over a fire with no electrics at all (this was in the old days before celphones LOL!)
People connecting with each other and with nature.
I think I miss those times the most.

I admire what you're doing and I empathise with why you're doing it. I think I would survive just fine in a cabin in the woods.
Just as long as there was coffee ;)

Shesawriter said...

Wow, Jason. I'm impressed. It's interesting to think about. Your life depending upon building your own shelter. Boggles the mind, but back then, it was common place.

Your little house looks beautiful.


Marie said...

Yeah, impressive stuff. Well done.

Sandra Ruttan said...

So... are you going to sleep in your creation once it's all finished?

Ultra cool thing to do!

Jay said...

May you never have to put your skills to the test!

Wilf said...

Good God - you must be mad! Having said that, my children are constantly building things out of sticks and bits of rubbish. Well done, anyway!

JLB said...

I am in complete agreement - there is so much to be gained from returning to the basic knowledge of how to subsist on the basics. Your project looks like SO much fun Jason (and a lot of good, solid work too). How rewarding. :)

I'm still working on learning how to grow enough food to sustain myself and my family. Every little harvest feels like a huge success.

Anonymous said...

Susan, you see much. Thank you for sensing beyond the words.

BD, thank you. :)

Bekbek, I sympathize with your feeling of disconnect. I straddle two worlds. Every day during the week, I sit in the 32nd floor here. On the other hand, during the weekends, I'm wrapped in the forests.

Kathie, chronicling your last days, lol! I like your style!

Joni, thank you! I'm self taught. I've always been frustrated by formal teaching. Give me a few books or articles, and I'm good to go.

Beady, even I wouldn't be quick to move off grid completely. I like the balance, the knowledge of both worlds. Giving up modern life would be extremely painful. Then again, if I had to.... P.S. Yeah, there's the guy behind the blog. ;)

Terri, your time in that farmhouse sounds amazing! No roof over your head even. I'm impressed! :D BTW, don't worry, we'll stock up on coffee for you.

Tanya, thanks! :) I'm feeling pretty good about how it's turning out. It's my first time, after all.

Marie, much appreciated. :)

Sandra, this structure is right next to the "real" cabin (although that's off grid too. No running water or electric other than by generator). I'd like to use this structure for storage, equipment, etc.

Jay, amen.

Addy, Good God - you must be mad! I don't disagree. :)

Anonymous said...

JLB, it has been fun, in a grueling kind of way. :) Growing food is a wonderful experience too. I'm amazed at how folks planned and stored their food. Have you done any home canning?

fringes said...

Wow. I love men who can build stuff. You rock. Any more pictures?

Anonymous said...

Fringes, thanks! I'll be taking more pictures this coming weekend when I hope to finish the roof. :)

Jeff said...

Looks good, Jason. I grew up on a farm and I know how hard that kind of work can be. Good luck!

Saaleha said...

It is for this reason that I love camping. Especially near a dam. The feeling of being at one with nature, getting in touch with the real you minus all the trimmings. The cabin looks beautiful. Food for the soul.