The gift of the logs

 

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“The first house you build is for your enemy, the second you build is for your friend, the third you build is for yourself”
Someone once told us that.

We were in the process of building our first log cabin and his words seemed odd. We had not taken down these trees for our enemies, we had not rolled those stones down the mountain to create a foundation, we had not worked the logs for so long… for someone else. We did it for us. It’s only now, years later, that we have realised that we, ourselves, we were our own worst enemy.
Things we had to go through. Hard realisations. Fights. Forgive me.

The house we live in now is the second log cabin we have built in the wild.
We found an old cabin in the forest, it had almost sunken entirely into the ground, the forest was eating it, to get to the cabin we had to take down trees, lots of trees, the roof was gone and the chimney had fallen. We tore the cabin apart. We reused most the materials and then we built this.
Our home.
He says he did everything for me. I say I did everything for him.
Sometimes we fight about who did the most.

I spend a lot of time staring at the logs. They comfort me. And you should know this. Logs are very comforting. Geopolitical turmoil, climate change, social injustice… if you can’t change the world change your self (listen to the song) but look at the logs!

These logs are hundreds of years old. They’ ve been here, protecting people from storm and wind long before I was born.


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They’re axed to be flat, by hand, it took a lot of time. The logs makes me think about time a lot. The make me think about effort.

And I like the moss. Moss was used as insulation (it expands when it dries) in the old days, I don’t know why we stopped using it, it’s a natural material and also it inhibits fire (moss can’t burn).

Some of the logs have marks

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These were made to make clay stick better onto the logs. Some walls and some corners were more sensitive, it’s not like all of the logs have the same kind of stamina and strength and that’s ok just know that your house is never stronger than your weakest log. Just as your society. Just as your self.

If it was particularly cold they would hang newspapers onto the walls.

There’s a bit of newspaper on one of the logs above my kitchen table. I like it.
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I’d like to show you how the cabin looked before we took it down

what it looked like inside

 

 

 

 

(we were so tired, it was such hard work)
And I’d like to show you some pictures of our home

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Oops wrong picture (I just did this to brag see I made ONE perfectly round æbleskive today!)

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New moon. House.

 

 

Why?
This being a yule calendar and all I think now is a good time to celebrate the place you live in. All the work you put into your home. You should. A home is a lot of work. A home is a lot of effort. A home is a lot of time.
And also I have this golden rule for you, it’s very old, someone very old told me about it: first you do something for your enemy, then you do something for your friend- before you can finally do something for your self.
Such is the order of things.

 

19 thoughts on “The gift of the logs

  1. Wow, if those old walls could talk. Did you know ANYthing about the people who lived in the old cabin? I just love what you did. No wonder you argued. That kind of work is the HARDest. Much harder than building from scratch with new materials. But look what you have now and there are the logs telling you about things. How wonderful that you notice! Congratulations on the aebleskivers! (sorry my anglo way of saying things.)

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  2. Great house. Wonderful house. Awesome house. Awesome work, and perseverence, and WORK!

    I have a log cabin behind my house. It was re-constructed on my property by the previous owner, made from centuries-old logs of a cabin being taken down on someone else’s property. I often look at the markings in the logs, just like your pictures, and imagine the work that unknown person/people did to make a place for themselves. Of course, here in KY, I daresay that the people who made the log cabin did not do it of their own free will. Unfortunately.

    I have always dreamed of building my own house. I don’t think I ever will get the opportunity, since the main attraction of my property is a solid brick, 200-year old, 4600-sqft house (mansion for its time, and still today), and we got it for…. a steal, and we love it, the location, our neighbors (of which there aren’t many)…

    Awesome job on the house. Seriously, much respect here. Can you talk a little about the span of time during construction, and if you rented/bought/built any equipment to help you guys in the construction? I am a builder/fixer/maker sort of person, and curious…

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    1. Absolutely. We had to get it done before winter because we had nowhere else to live (at this point in our story we lived in busted caravans on this plot- we had left our old cabin in the woods for many varied reasons). So we got it done before winter = 4 and half month.
      (winter is a great motivator) We had no money, we still don’t, no equipment was rented, bought or borrowed BUT our neighbour brought four woofers one day (volunteers working on organic farms) and that was kind of like an amish- moment 🙂
      We have continued to work on the house ever since, we are by no means done 🙂

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  3. Very cool Andrea, thanks so much for sharing. Very much resonates with me, no logs here but rebuilding the old card box house for some 15 plus years – yes- nailing the shingles on rooftop in high winds and replacing all the windows one at a time with fingers covered in blood and scrapes and hauling in new ovens and sinks and walls. We worked on one house totally alone with no one to help…. to give it all away now. It just happens sometimes this way and it can be really liberating. Russians used to say: my address is not a house and not a street, my address is the Soviet union. … I say, my home is whenever my heart is..
    will reach out to you.
    thanks for the beautiful post.

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    1. Others fight about “who did the most ‘shit’ ”
      E, what’s up with you? now half of your posts disappeared. Don’t just disappear, need to know if you are ok, after all you had done to help me out.

      All of you people, fighting and not fighting, building and not building, surviving the December darkness, or dark night of the soul, all of you – HUGS to you, big HUGS, bear HUGS. Stay well. There are people who died today. . . We are still here, we can keep muddling through. And soon it will January, and everyone will be ok.

      Andrea, how is your sauna going? Is that finished now? Loved the log sauna at my grandma’s farm. I remembered that when I was visiting Finland, every house had a sauna, but a bit different one that what we had. Nothing better than a good sauna. Sounds like everyone needs one right about now. 🙂

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  4. It takes a certain kind of person to look at a structure many would pass up as uninhabitable and see the life still there and the shelter it still has to offer. Those same people, I think, would be able to see the value in people whom others have passed by as unremarkable. Even though I do not know you, I can gather from your words that you are this kind of person and we need more of you.
    As we were digging in the dirt around our home’s foundation doing some needed repairs today, we had this not-too-original conversation about how a home is never done. Or, at least, we think it shouldn’t be because that would mean YOU were done evolving, learning, changing, and that is death (as is dwelling on the past, but that’s a whole other subject.) Your home is beautiful because it is and because of what it does. Thank you for sharing it with us!

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  5. Oh, aebleskiver! Thank you for sharing! My grandmother (of Danish descent) made them for her grandchildren and now my mom makes them for hers! Christmas Eve brunch will feature them with my sons and their cousins seeing who eats the most :).

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    1. He. I actually wrote a recipe about them but I figured it was problematic because I didn’t think you could get the pan to make them anywhere else but in Denmark. How wonderful that you keep making them!

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  6. The saying “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” is actually symptomatic of the age we live in since it implies isolation. A positive counterpart would be that we are always stronger than our weakest link because we help each other to grow, emphasizing an organic relation. The reversal of revolution begins with awareness by making a change to how we view the world.

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    1. Yeah, I’ be been thinking about that saying today, thinking about how people kick downwards and treat the weakest so bad, it’s disgraceful, even when we do it to ourselves, not listening or respecting our own boundaries or “weakness’ ess”, such a strong empazis on having to be strong, such a desire to live by “survival of the fittest” when in reality we are all connected and in reality we only thrive if ALL of us thrive… such were my thoughts. It’s good you way what you do 🙂

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  7. “it’s not like all of the logs have the same kind of stamina and strength and that’s ok just know that your house is never stronger than your weakest log. Just as your society. Just as your self.”
    Like it.
    About moss, they should use it. . They still use it in Lithuania for the log structures. All the stuff built on my grandma’s farm (built around 1950) was with moss, we used to keep pulling it out when we were kids. I did not know moss cannot burn. Thanks! Smelled good too.

    Scott in KY. I used to work with Scott in KY. Do you sell conveyor belt equipment by any chance? : ) I went to Louisville Ky Farm show a few times, nice crowd of people and a LOT of fried food. 🙂

    Love the pictures. Love the old houses.
    Andrea, practical questions. Did you purchase the property and the structure from the old lady? And are they available at reasonable prices? I had been thinking of doing that in Lithuania, as many farms and small villages are disappearing older generation is dying out, young ones moving to the cities, and old people are selling their properties, but they had overinflated the prices thinking rich foreigners will buy them. . I had not been able to find reasonable places.

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    1. There are a lot of old cabins in the woods, most of them empty now, all of the people old. And the prizes, yes, there is hope that rich foreigners will buy but they don’t so maybe one just have to wait it out. With this property however it was different. We asked the old lady who owns this forest if we could live her, we wanted to rent the place (we don’t have any money- at all!) but she said we could live here for free. So that’s what we do 🙂
      It’s a fantastic story. Some day I’ll tell it.

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      1. So wonderful you can live there rent-free! One must acknowledge that the lady is benefiting enormously by your work on the land and house so she is right (IMHO) to give to you rent-free. Happy to find another person that can think outside of the box.

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  8. Bee, that’s not me… 🙂 oh well, maybe another time I’ll run into you. My grandfather was first-gen Lithuanian, btw. Interesting tidbit I suppose.

    Andrea, impressive. Winter is a huge motivator. Trust me I know. Good work!

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  9. Andrea, holy crap how wonderful for you to live there for free. 🙂 Reminded me of the story Ben had in his book about Eric and his girlfriend how they got the house – by just asking (in Saved).

    Scott, thanks, seems like virtually I meet has a Lithuanian in their line someplace, those Lithuanians got around the world a bit. 🙂

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