Sunday, December 04, 2011

Building A Writers Cottage

Sunday, December 4, 2011

24.6°, quiet, a 2 mph breeze. The humidity is high and the air has a little bite this morning. The stars are shutting off for the night and there is a faint lightness beyond Peacham Pond as the sun thinks of getting out of bed on the eastern coast. Light will arrive here in another half hour. I just poured another coffee and went to the cellar to fill the buckets with various bird seed. As light comes, I'll fill the feeders with sunflower seed, cracked corn, millet and thistle. Birds are entertaining and once the bears have gone to rest for the winter, I can be assured that the feeders will be well visited, not disturbed. I have 4 pounds of suet thawing on the kitchen counter. Today will be the first time I'll hang old onion sacks here and there to bring in the woodpeckers and warm all the other birds too.

Karl the Wonder Dog only wanted an abbreviated walk this morning until he looked up and saw two deer standing by the tractor. If there was a little more snow on the ground it would have made a nice picture for a tractor commercial for Christmas. Karl snorted, the deer snorted and I said "Let's go!."

It's nice to know that readers of The Vermont Gardener have remained faithful during this busy fall season when writing has been minimal as this writer has been cyclone-like and busy. It wasn't just fall clean up and equipment repair, but a major project that started October 25th as I began construction of a writers cottage in the woods. I have an office here at the house but there is a peace that comes from the woods that made me want to build a little place to go and write in total quiet. Thoreau did this at Walden Pond and I sure am no Thoreau but I do recognize how nature and quiet provide a different environment for writing.

I had lots of 8X8 hemlock timbers milled almost two years ago and the plan was to build wide steps from the hosta shade house down the steep bank to the lower gardens. My goal was to provide an easier way for people with mobility problems to get up and down and not miss some beautiful displays when they visited Vermont Flower Farm. The floods of May and then again when Hurricane Irene washed half of Vermont to the ocean changed my thinking on steps. Had I built them, they would be washed up on the shore in Burlington or Winooski now as the area they were scheduled for became a new river and under "feet" of water.

Getting 8 and 10 foot timbers to the site meant building a road for my tractor. The site itself had to be cleared and although I began in late September, I didn't start digging holes and pouring cement until the end of October. Since then I have had help from Alex and my friend Michelle has acted like a roof monkey, climbing around, rearranging plywood and screwing down the roofing. The wood stove is in and now I am ready to spend some time inside insulating top to bottom with the luxury of heat. It will be another couple weeks to get the insulating done but after that I am finished until next spring. Alex and I began wrapping the outside with Tyvek yesterday and that will finish today. I'll get a couple more pictures today so everyone can see what I have been up to.

The writers cottage, shed, camp, whatever you wish to call it, was built with another thought in mind too. We have a little over 70 acres here on the mountain and I have toiled with clearing roads and trails for years now. In 1992, some of the land was cut for pulpwood but that was the only time any forest management was undertaken. I have contemplated hiring a logger with horses to clean up the woods. Last fall I built a machine shed that can serve as a temporary horse barn and this little cabin can serve as a base to work out of, even stay at for whomever I get to log for us. I still need an outhouse and a solar shower, hand pump and a sink but these are winter projects too. By next year this time, the place should be finished up, ship lap siding on the outside and typical amenities added. Any building is a surprise in terms of time to build and cost for materials but this was an investment I really wanted to make. Check back tomorrow and see more recent pictures. Right now I have to head out for the Sunday paper.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pnd where sunrise has encouraged more wind. A feral cat I have not seen before is sitting in the lower field waiting for a mouse. Breakfast time for others than just me.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens and also as George Africa
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

Gail has holiday gift cards ready. Each has a picture of one of our gardens, individual flowers, etc Interested? Give her a call to order. She'll gladly add your special message. 802-426-3505

1 comment:

Commonweeder said...

What a wonderful idea. Our Cottage Ornee is multi-functional, but even though it is only across the lawn, it is Away and I enjoy the peace of being able to write there. And read.