This winter we decided to begin building a log cabin at our Tanana River homestead. I say begin because unlike our fish house, sun lodge, or wall tent cabin, this one will take longer than a month. In order to build where we want to, we'll need to cut trees, drag them 1/2 mile to our location, peel the bark off them, let them dry for a year, notch them, and assemble them into a cabin. Plus things like roofs, floors, doors, etc. We're envisioning a 20 x 20 ft 2 story cabin. You've got to start somewhere, so this is what we did this winter.
Stage 1 is gathering the materials (24 foot, 12-16inch diameter spruce logs) to our building site (the bluff 1/2 mile down the hill). These logs were a LOT bigger than the ones we used to build the sun lodge and moving them was a challenge.
Step 1: Finding the right trees- We were looking for trees that were really straight, the proper diameter, close to our main trail, safe to take down, not rotten, and pleasing to David's sense of aesthetics. It took a while.
Step 2: Felling the Trees- This was the fun part. We used a chainsaw, wedges, and an axe. Windy days slowed us down a bit.
We eventually wizened up and bought a second chainsaw. Now that we didn't have to fight over the saw our speed and relationship improved. Jenna used the Shindawa and David got a new Stihl.
Step 3: Prepare the trees for hauling- Once the trees were down we used axe and chainsaw to limb them and then used a block and tackle, rollers, a cant hook, lever pole, and the power of prayer to move them into a reasonable position and haul them back to the trail. Some of the trees had rot in them, which we cut off (photo on right).
Step 4: Hauling the logs- We started using our dog team, a log hauling sled, and attaching the dogsled behind the log for a brake. Our friend John Manthei came out and gave us some tips on sled modifications that greatly improved our process.
David came up with the "death saucer", a green birch sled that we placed under the rear end of the log that greatly (too much) speeded up hauling so we could do it with 2 dogs, not 6. Frozen green birch slides like greased lighting, in case you were wondering.
We progressed to using snowmachine to haul a log down to our cabin site. Praise the lord for the iron dog. This allowed us to haul with one person so the other person could prepare the trees in the meantime. Jenna, who really really hates to waste things, ran around like a banshee between hauls making firewood stacks.
Step 5: Rolling logs into place on the storage rack- We also had to clear an area for the log storage. They should dry quickly at this sunny cabin site.
Viola! A pile of logs. Now for steps 6-200....