Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Where I Stand...

I'm taking a brief break from work to post, but seeing as the library closes early today and I still have a lot of work to get done, there's really not much time for me to say much. This is a shame because I've recently though of a few remarkably profound, meaningful, charming, and witty things to share. Alas, I'll just have to keep talking to myself...

It occurs to me that I haven't posted my progress in about two weeks. This is a shame because quite a bit has happened in that time. Namely, my cabin is starting to look far more...cabin-ish.

I have six logs left to go.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Something about the bare logs
attracts a lot of butterflies.

It's fitting that I post this on the first official day of Spring. However, as it is wont, nature has once again ignored man-made schedules and Spring has actually been springing for several weeks now. But in this past week, the signs have been especially noticeable.

One of the earliest signs I saw were the bugs. Starting once temperatures were consistently above freezing, the bugs began appearing during the day. As the day lengthened and warmed, they hung out later and later. It's gotten to the point now where using my headlight at night anywhere outside of my tent attracts a flying crowd. The mosquitoes, gnats, flies, butterflies, bees, and beetles that buzz around my clearing as I work don't bother me unduly. I ignore them or just brush them off if they decide that I'd make a good landing pad. In the past week though, I have begun to see one flying insect I'm less than thrilled to see--red wasps. For those who are unaware of this wonder of the natural wolrd, imagine a burnt-orange/red wasp the size of your pinky finger with the temperament of a disgruntled postal worker. These flying beserkers consider your presence an affront to all they hold dear and will go looking for trouble. For this reason, whenever I see one buzzing around, I've taken to scampering away, ducking and weaving like I was dodging enemy fire.

The growing presence of fauna has been accompanied by action from the deciduous flora as well. Flowers have started popping up on vines that otherwise have shown no sign of life. Many of the smaller saplings appear to have doubled in size as there once bare branches have burst green with leaves.

It's also beginning to get hot--not just warm, but hot. A month ago, a 5-gallon water jug would last me almost a week. Last week, I emptied my first water jug and was about 3-gallons into my second before I filled up again on Sunday. I've also packed up my winter sleeping bag and switched to a summer bag.

 This past Sunday, I was reminded that this is just the beginning of spring, and that it's only going to get hotter from here out. We (my assorted cousins from El Dorado and I) were sitting around the table after lunch chatting. I don't remember how the conversation segued in this direction, but I remember the turn it took. My cousin Chris, looking at me and at my dark hair which has grown thick and is getting long, said, "You're going to need a summer haircut pretty soon." "No," I replied, "I work outside during the summer, so I'm used to the heat." Chris, who is mostly bald, pointed at his head and informed me, "Even I get a summer haircut. I've lived here for 40 some-odd years and I'm still not used to the heat." Not wanting to get a haircut or spend the money, I made some comment about having to tough it out. Chris's wife, with her voice thick with pity, chimed in, "Ohhh. When it's 90 degrees with 95% humidity...at 8:30 in the morning, you're gonna want a haircut." This gave me pause, and as the conversation drifted on, I sat back and thought about this. 90 degrees with 95% humidity?? ...at 8:30 in the morning?!?! There must be places in Hell cooler than a southern Arkansas afternoon. I'm gotta finish this cabin soon.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Weathering the Weather

I'm definitely enjoying the warmer weather that comes as spring approaches in Southern Arkansas. It's fantastic to go for several weeks straight without losing the feeling in my feet. However, one downside to warmer weather is thunderstorms. Having been hit by two thunderstorms in the past week, I'm not embarrassed to admit: being in a tent in the middle of a thunderstorm is vaguely terrifying. Both have come at night (or very early morning), so my only course of action is to watch the slow strobe-light effect of the lightning and listen to the thunder and torrents of rain. But the whole time I constantly wonder what would happen if lightning were to strike a tree close by, or if there are any dead limbs above my tent that I failed to notice during my previous inspections. Thoughts like these can make it very hard to fall back asleep.

Working On the Walls

In the past week I've been working on raising my walls. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll let the pixels do most of the talking. (Just click on the pictures to blow them up.)

Pulling a log up my ramps.
Surprisingly, one of the easiest parts of this entire venture is getting these massive logs up onto my frame. Just use my rope to pull them up the ramps.

The most time-consuming part is peeling them with the draw knife. It's not hard, but it's taking me around 2 hours to scrape the cambium off a single log.

My notches are starting to look
round instead of jagged.
The notching is relatively simple, but I realize that I'm lacking good pictures of this, so I'll leave an explanation of this until a later date. I will say (with a good bit a pride) that my notches are getting substantially prettier.

Things are starting to look a bit more cabin-ish.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Progress Thus Far (Week 7)

One of the prettier of my
first four notches.

(Also, I recently found out that for more detail, you
can expand the pictures by clicking on them.)

In the past couple of days, there have been exciting happening in the woods of Waldo: I started on the walls of my cabin. This meant finishing the peeling of two of my larger logs with a draw knife and cutting my first notches. The question remains, how is one supposed to cut a round notch with a straight saw? As it turns out, with great difficulty and limited success.

If I can continue at this rate, I will be finishing my cabin around the time of the next presidential election. Hopefully, as the logs get smaller and I become more competent, my progress with be quicker.

And never say that I'm anything but lucky. Shortly after posting on Thursday night, I decided (or rather, once again, my truck decided for me) that it was time to give lots of my money to a mechanic. This time it was a new alternator. That was fun.

(Also, Mom, I shaved, so you can once again admit to being my mother.)

Peeling the remaining cambium
with a draw knife.

Working on one of my notches. For
every piece of saw dust that flies out
of the back of the saw and onto the
ground, several more somehow find their
way into my shirt, pants, pockets, and socks.

The first layer of my walls.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Progress Thus Far (Week 6)

So, at long last I'm done collecting logs (hopefully for good--I might have to pull in a few more later on) and serious construction has begun.

Peeling one of my floor joists.
As it turns out, processed  lumber is expensive and I'm very poor, so I'm going to have to try and make do using as much raw timber as possible. Instead of framing my floor out with lumber, I took my largest log, split it in half lengthwise for two additional floor joists. I went ahead and pulled the two halves onto my sill logs and peeled them up there. Then I peel the cambium off with a draw knife, notched the ends, and recessed them into my sill logs.  

With that task done, I'm now ready to start raising my walls.
My sill logs and floor joists in place and needing walls

Some assembly required.
My worksite shortly after installing my last floor joist.