Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My squirrels laugh at your cabin: What a cabin isn't

A cabin isn't just a smaller version of your McMansion. A cabin doesn't have granite countertops and stainless steel state of the art kitchen appliances. A cabin doesn't have water features that you install.

A cabin is a different style of life. You figure out how to get warm by finding combustibles on your land. You get water by saving it from the roof in a cistern or pumping it from the ground. A cabin has simpler and more difficult ways of meeting your needs because you are far away from the infrastructure that governments supply.

A cabin is a triumph in ingenuity; a creation of form that follows a function unique to that little place on the earth where it is built. Otherwise, you may as well haul in a FEMA trailer.

23 comments:

John said...

Well said, but I can't help but wonder what the back story is. Is there a particular McCabin on your mind? If the names have been changed to protect the guilty, I understand. I'm just (nosey) curious.

tarr said...

I guess Housebloggers didn't like my blog entry. I was just busted down from houseblogger to member status.

Some harsh critics.

jeannie said...

No, No! We didn't censor you! Your entry is still on the houseblogs home page. (We don't censor.)

I've been cleaning up the duplicate profiles on houseblogs. You had two (and other folks did as well) and your duplicate profile was altered...the one you aren't using.

Check your email.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with the McCabin person...cabins shouldn't have granite countertops, and stainless steel...that stuff just doesn't fit in...however, if those are our only choices, what are you to do? I think there are nice touches like the branch railing and wooden floor. And who wouldn't want to soak in a whirlpool tub after hiking around the beautiful cabin areas??? Who needs a STEAM ROOM?????PPPUULLLEEAAASSSEEEE! This is not a spa-design contest!

WendyLee said...

tarr,
What you said is true, but times have changed the way people live, even if it is in the mountains. We have all been spoiled by new technology and design.
My personal preference, however, is the good ole days of earthy elements in the rough.
Such as: Tree branches, tree trunks, rocks, boulders, clay etc. All incorporated with function in the home and as rustic or in the raw as possible.
Some homes you find in the mountains do not have a running stream, lake or pond and that is why they offer the pond feature. It just depends on each individuals tastebuds.
I personally would love to swing from pine tree to pine tree like Tarzan does in the jungle, huminaaaaa, lol.

Anonymous said...

Tarr – I completely understand what you are saying. A true cabin has a purity that you can't buy or build. Unfortunately, Americans are given the impression that money will buy them anything. You are lucky to have your tinycabininthewoods...not many of us are so fortunate. I'm glad that there are people who 'get it' and remain true to their beliefs.

I was disappointed with the choices on the DIY cabin design...they were so mainstream. But why am I so surprised?

BTW - I loved your cabin when it was just a frame...it's too bad that we need to be enclosed.

hydrant said...

I do see Tarr's point about what a cabin should be and basically agree. To me a cabin is synonymous with simplicity and a life style freed from constraints by being governed by natural restrictions. It sounds contradictory, but it's sort of the "freedom under the law" theory. Our lives are uncomplicated by living within natural boundaries and not complicating our lives with conveniences. Explaining simplicity is very complicated!! A cabin for me would be a place where, above all, my mind is free and unencumbered; where I am free to create and think freely with inspiration rather than distraction. That's why my choice was the Trillium. There is space for free movement. A wood stove is efficient. I'm weary of having so much stuff at home. A cabin would give me the opportunity to relax and refresh.

Anonymous said...

I agree cabins should be concidered a rustic more primitive form of style, but the aspect of using granite countertops, and stainless steel cabnets, has its perks as well.
After having built 2 cabins from raw natural materials found in the immediate area in a remote portion of Alaska and living there for a number of years off the land, the question of better sanitation by using a granite countertop to prepare food would of been healthier had we a place to get one verses having to make a wood chopping block countertop with has to be regularly sanded and tungoil refinish and santised with bleach because wood is porous and holds onto bacteria and make you sick (which it did), and the Idea of having stainless steel cabnets would of been great in order to keep the animals out of the food and from leaving their droppings all over our dishes and tableware. They will knaw through wood cabnets and or tear them apart in order to get into the food, as well as the termites eating them up in no time because there is NO pest control people going to come around and spray for you. And the chemicals you need can only be obtained by a licensed exterminator. So certain modern aspects are good for the planning for the longevity of the cabins life span. But what I did not like most about DIY's offering is the extremely poor floor plans. And yes there is a way to use some modern technology to make life in the rough alot easier and not take away from the rustic style of the cabin such as you failed to mention in the fact there is no electric power to a real cabin therefore all modern means can not be used to heat water, cook food, pump water, flush a toilet, take a hot shower or bath, light up things at night, or refrigerate your food. There is nothing in the plans to resolve any of these issues next to having to make sure you live close enough to civilization to be able to buy fuel for a constantly running generator. But my cabin plan does not need to be anywhere near civilization, and can provide all of that and no one has ever asked how. With proper planning and ingenuity I was able to make it happen, not just once, but twice in 2 seperate builds. And both cabins are still standing and being used to this day.

Anonymous said...

"Forgive him, Caesar - he is a barbarian and considers that the customs of his tribe are the laws of nature."

Mi cabin n'es su cabin.

John said...

Really? That's weird. Have you contacted the folks at Houseblogs/House in Progress?

Molly said...

Amen, Tarr! I live in a 2300 sq ft log HOUSE. Even though most people who see it or visit call it cozy, it's still too large to be a cabin and the DIY "cabin" definitely is a McCabin! Just because it's made of logs doesn't make it a cabin. A cabin meets the criteria in a poem hanging on my log wall - "Dear house, so very small, just big enough for love, that's all."

John said...

Another thought re: Houseblogs. I think as part of being a full housebloger you are suppose to have a link to houseblogs.net somewhere on your blog. I didn't see one. Maybe that is the reason for the down grade?

Anonymous said...

What does Housebloggers know? Apparently not much... maybe they have a "no canines" clause or something, though you write very well-- far better than many humans I've known, not to mention your photographic talents. Prejudice is such an ugly thing. I'm so sorry, Tarr.

For my part, I stumbled across your blog and totally lost track of all I was supposed to be doing today, and instead have been reading your adventures at Tiny Cabin in the Woods as though it was a fairy tale... to me, it more or less is-- right down to the arched doorway.

And, for those in the vast wastelands outside Arkansas, Boxely Valley and the surrounding area is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. I used to be up that way a few times a year when my eldest attended, then worked at, the scout camp near Jasper. Each time I'd go through there I'd find myself pondering how I might find a way to never have to leave. Not wanting to get shot on private property, I had to limit my wanderings to public lands-- Hidden Valley, and some time up on the Buffalo. I did, however, get to see the Elk on several occasions. Even within the limited parameters of my experience there, I have seen more wildlife in that area than anywhere else I've ever been. It is truly a magical place...

I'm currently pining after a certain piece of land in Scott County, with cabin plans of my own. It's several years from happening at this point, but with a little luck, time will be on my side.

In the meantime, if you continue to post, I will vicariously live the dream (and learn from your experience) by following your blog as the Tiny Cabin in the Woods takes its fully evolved place at the edge of the ancient Ozarks.

One thought/question... If you are considering running a water line to tap the cave spring, and can do it without environmental damage, might you also be able to tap the geothermal air flow from the cave for cooling (and possibly heating, if you wanted a backup to the wood stove-- which can be useful if you aren't at home to tend the fire, thus preventing freezing pipes, etc.)?

If my memory serves me, cave temperature in that area is generally static around 58F +/-. I don't know much about such installations, but seems as though you'd have to run the water line fairly deep to prevent freezing, which would also preserve the air temperature if you ran an additional line alongside it. Why not tap the air flow with essentially the same effort (digging, etc., assuming the lines could be laid together)? Since you'll have a wood stove, I'm thinking you wouldn't necessarily even need a heat pump unit per se. If you could bring in air at that temperature year round, it would cool in the summer, and maintain a sufficient minimal temperature in the winter, even without the wood stove, to protect plumbing, etc.

The geothermal heat pumps work on basically the same principle (as I recall)-- I was just thinking you might could get twice the bang for your buck if you could accomplish both in one project, with the only additional cost being the purchase of the material for the additional line. Be advised, I have no actual experience with this sort of thing, so my musings are entirely theoretical, and may well contain some fatal flaw... just thought I'd throw it out there for you to consider.

Good luck with all your adventures at Tiny Cabin... hope you and your family will soon be spending many happy, peaceful years there.

Aaron said...

Actually, you weren't changed to member status at houseblogs.net. You simply had two profiles registered on the site and we changed one of them to 'member' (while keeping the other one as 'houseblogger') so that your posts don't all appear twice. Sorry if there was any confusion. :-(

Tarr said...

My apologies to the fine people at Housebloggers.

And I agree with Anon. who said it looked better without walls.

Enjoyed all the commentary so far. Keep it up.

jeannie said...

No worries. Phew! I also deleted one of the ranch bloggers by accident. That's it. No more housekeeping for me. I'm obviously terrible at it so I should get to opt out, right?

Tarr, have you seen Sporadic Packrat's cabin at houseblogs? The girl is my HERO! Alaska, no bathroom, just a honeybucket. My sister-in-law and her husband live in Alaska so I have had first had experience with the weather where I would NOT want an outhouse. But she lives quite cozily. :)

Regards--

jm at houseblogs

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clarification- I agree. I just spent the most wonderful summer at a REAL cabin my father built in the 50s- a one-room structure built alongside a lovely trout stream with a pond (a naturally occuring water feature!!). It has no plumbing, no electricity- just a few gas lamps, a simple wood burning stove, and a pile of logs on the porch. This is in real snow country near the Tug Hill in Upstate New York, and on a lovely undisturbed tract of land. You can actually see the stars there with no hint of artificial light around. Life without telephones, beepers and pagers, without television or radio, without the work-like atmosphere of a modern kitchen... makes it easy to find the Peace of God. I truly resisted the return to this other world. The only thing I'm not sure I like- the outhouse is a chilly walk in the dark! And the hot shower at my dad's old farmhouse down the road was a nice touch.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see a cabin design such as the Smoky View design with a stone corner fireplace and walls of windows or large picture windows on both sides. For a location with a nice view, this would allow you to enjoy the fireplace but still enjoy the view simultaneously. If other windows are double-hung, make them with self-storing storm windows and screens so that you can slide the moveable storm window up so that on stormy days fresh air can still come in through the lower-half screen and then flow up and over the glass of the lowered upper half of the double hung window. This lets you have some air flow even on warmer days when storms might normally force you to close all of the windows from the rain. Of course centrai air conditioning would be helpful on a warm rainy day when the windows have to be closed, but that's not a big necessity for a "cabin" dwelling.

Anonymous said...

I think having DIY buliding a state of the art cabin using their skills and resources is great. Why can't you have the comforts of home while enjoying the beauty of nature. I think of it as a nice vacation home to invite friends and family and create beautiful memories.

Anonymous said...

How about we use modern technology and sustainable building practices to add solar power to start with, going back to the original essence of a cabin, freedom and independence. Really liked the bamboo option, would like to see radiant heat and maybe even a sod roof option.

Peprmint391 said...

Why not have a contest to have the cabin built on a property of your choosing? My dream home is a cabin in MN. I can build on 1.5A there sitting idle. My dad would have loved it, too.

Tricia said...

Ok, Thoreau... (He had a "nutty" obsession with squirrels, too, ya know?) If you "wish to live deliberately" in the woods, then why are you busy blogging? I'm assuming you're either connected online while in your tiny cabin or cozied up in your - God forbid - modern home.

Like it or not, things are constantly changing. That includes definitions and/or interpretations of language, society, and tradition. Personally, when I think of a cabin in the woods, I picture myself snuggling up on a porch adoring the sounds of birds and creeks and sipping on my hot chocolate as I read poetry. I hardly consider whether the place has electricity although I think I would quite enjoy the convenience of it as opposed to extra work. I would also prefer the ability to reach civilization by phone or e-mail if need be. Forgive me, but I happen to appreciate the beauty of nature as well as advances in technology.

Lorretta said...

People should read this.