When I first set foot on this land, the cabin was the main attraction. We parked at the tipped-over “For Sale” sign at the end of this dirt road. I walked down the steep driveway with my parents, Nana and Pop and my real estate agent Terri.
She explained the cabin was built in 1978 as we walked into the 18’ X 20’ space. I saw so much potential. It has a large cast iron stove and a sleeping loft. I also smelled some potential mice.
The listing said this cabin was “in need of some rehab work” which also meant the price of the property was basically for the raw land. I was unbothered; I love a project!
My focus in my first year was almost entirely on the cabin. The need was obvious and the progress tangible. Plus, I was hesitant to jump into setting up gardens or an orchard without a clear plan. I’m cautious of the consequences of shortsightedness.
In June of 2019, we cleared the clutter out of the cabin - saw horses, pine boards and old mouse traps. We replaced a broken floorboard and sealed up parts of some rotten logs with foam and steel wool. We cleaned everything we could see. It was not enough though. I spent one night on a cot in the loft and could hear mice scurrying about in the walls.
In October, we gutted the entire interior, down the logs themselves. The mice had gotten into the fiberglass insulation and had been quite content there for many generations. Mouse shit rained down upon me as I ripped the ceiling boards down, taking a break to google whether mouse-poop-borne-diseases were common in New York State (It isn’t). We scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed. Gods bless my parents for putting up with me and this crazy idea.
My plan was to see how the cabin survived the winter and decide whether it was worth keeping this year. I thought about it deeply. I could tear it down and build something else. But for hopefully less money and less effort, I could fix up this lil’ cabin. Most importantly, I could keep a piece of the story of this land intact. Anything I build wouldn’t be the original cabin. So… rebuilding it is!
Log Repair Time
So I contracted American Log Restoration to come fix the gaping holes in rotten logs. They are real professionals. They fabricate logs to fit, replicating the original size and shape of the logs. You can see their handiwork for yourself!
This means the cabin is in good shape to survive the winter of 2020. The mouse infestation has been eradicated (probably) and there will be new doors soon.
There is always more work to do. I plan to have them back to replace some of the less urgent logs next year. In the spring, I can start working on wiring the cabin and doing interior work like floors and walls. There are plenty of updates to come.
My dream is to rebuild this cabin and live here. I want it to be cozy and quirky. Eventually, it’ll be a guest house and AirBnb for folks like YOU! My reason for writing this newsletter is to keep family and friends in the loop on this project.
If you have any ideas, if you want to come visit, if you want to come work, let me know.
Hey if you’re new here, this is West Bluff Food Forest. I'm building a permaculture orchard and home in the Finger Lakes region of New York. I write about the lessons I'm learning and update you along the way.
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