Finishing The Cabin

Chinked cabin-2

At just over 11 months since breaking ground, my parents report that the cabin is almost finished, sending us the above photo. The log walls are white pine, which will deteriorate without UV-blocking stain and some water and insect repellent.  To simulate the appearance of the few remaining original log cabins in the neighborhood, which are hardwood, Elizabeth chose Permachink Smoke Gray.  Our builder pressure washed the bare walls, carefully papered over all the doors, windows, and fixtures, and then applied a boron solution, two coats of stain, followed by a clear coat.  The chinking is purely for aesthetics—just one more gratuitous addition that will require periodic maintenance.  I was the one who cast the final vote in favor of ordering rectangular logs with chinking grooves, again wanting to emulate the appearance of the Fortune family cabin that was still standing when we bought the Hollow in 1972.


The appearance has changed a lot this spring, starting with the sudden emergence of lavish amounts of bright green grass. I admit that I thought Elizabeth overdid the grass planting just a bit, spreading countless 25# sacks of Marlin’s contractor mix, and then carefully covering it with either loose straw, or in especially erosion-prone slopes, a special excelsior mat.  Everything was still bare when I left the site in March, but by my return the second week of May, it was ready to be mowed.

In late March, Elizabeth rented a rototiller and spent several days carefully grooming the much abused patch of clay and dirt between the cabin and pond.  Picking up buckets full of rocks and building scraps, within only 2 weeks, it looked like the world’s largest chia pet.

Installing retaining wall

Although the walkout basement takes effective advantage of the sleep slope, the original plans for the cabin never dealt with some of the practical aspects of site planning, landscaping, and human factors.  We recognized that we needed at least one retaining wall along the side of the cabin, or otherwise, we’d never be able to climb into the side stoop without a ladder.  It had also become clear that we needed a wider area for turning cars around.  A cinderblock wall would have been too flimsy to support a parking area, and poured concrete would be too expensive, so we compromised on a set of four 6-foot long precast cement wall modules, brought in by Holmes Redi-Mix on a special truck with a crane. The above shot shows yet another Yoder using the crane and tongs to set the caps on the upper wall.  We put a single 6’ casting perpendicular to the chimney base.


Meanwhile, Elizabeth started raking up all the straw she’d so carefully strewn to protect her unhatched grasslings.  Then she phoned up Walmart and asked for a reel mower.  They told her all of their lawn mowers were real.  She finally found an old-fashioned non-powered reel mower at a hardware store catering to the Amish.  (The truly keen observer may notice that the above photo shows the short-lived and never functional WildBlue dish.  See the Long Wait for the Internet, a later post in this same thread.)

Thoreau is ready for 19th hole

Elizabeth’s lawn looked like a million bucks when I left the Hollow a couple weeks ago, but  I haven’t seen the exterior stain, let alone the chinking.  Keen eyes may also observe that the topmost photo shows the results of Sam the Builder’s backfilling of the new retaining wall, which I also haven’t seen, yet. Sam should be finishing up the insect screen on the porch, at which point, all of his work will be complete.


[If you want to see all the entries for the cabin building project, they start here. The next Building the Cabin entry is Construction Completed.]

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