Monday, October 17, 2005

Creatures of the Forest

There is nothing more beautiful than a white-tail doe in her sleek red summer dress with her new born fawn, or many times her twin fawns. She makes people stop to admire their elegance. There are many white-tail deer on our property and adjacent properties as they favor open woodlands. Their tracks are on all the many trails near the cabin.

In comparison to the graceful white-tailed deer, the moose is large and awkward. They are the the largest and most powerful deer in the world. They are an awesome sight with their tremendous palmate antlers. Moose tracks have been seen on the trails of our forest and we have seen the moose in the local area.

Black bear also are seen in the woods. They are not as dangerous as grizzly bears, but can be deceptively friendly. They love the berries, roots and grass of the area. They can be found eating blueberries during July and August.

Bears hibernate during the winter months. They find a cave or hollow log to sleep in from late October to early April. Their young are born during the winter. When spring arrives, the cubs are introduced to forest life.

Seldom seen, but never the less nearby are the red fox and the elusive timber wolf. Both have been seen on our land.

The fox and the wolves share many common characteristics: long narrow muzzles, erect ears, bushy tails and slender bodies. They have keen sight, smell and hearing. Both fox and wolf are intelligent.

Not long ago, my wife and I were walking up one of our trails when we saw a light coated timber wolf walking toward us. We thought it a large dog. As soon as the wolf saw us, he immediately disappeared into the woods. He had the characteristic bushy tail.

The gnawing creatures abound: snowshoe rabbits, chipmunks, beavers, squirrels, and wood chucks.

One note about the beaver. The beaver can build a dam. They fell trees and can dig a canal to bring logs to the dam under contruction, can fill chinks in the dam with stones and mud. They are without doubt master dam builders. (The animal kingdoms' civil engineers) They are to be found in the small rivers and ponds in our area.

Another group of creatures can be found near the cabin: the weasel tribe. They are the weasel, mink, marten, and otter. This may include the skunk, the expert in chemical warfare.

The short-tail weasel is small, ranging 8 to 12 inches long and less than a pound in weight. In the winter, the weasel's fur turns white and is called ermine. In the summer he is brown. The weasel has reckless courage and, at times, fights larger animals and occassionally wins.

The marten is a larger animal; about 25 to 30 inches long and 2 to 4 lbs. in wight. They are called pine martens here because of their tree climbing ability.

During deer hunting season, members of the weasel tribe can be seen as the ground is covered with snow and many hunters use deer stands to see the deer from a higher elevation. In addition to black bears, pine martens and weasels have been seen from the deer stands.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


After the site was cleared of brush and trees, construction began.

Excavation for the footings and foundation walls began only to find shallow ledge rock, requiring the foundation to be moved about 8 ' to the northeast. Below the main floor, a 2 ' 6" crawl space will be used to provide space for a 40 gallon electric hot water heater and a pressure tank for the water supply system. Most of the electrical service will be supplied from the crawl space.

The footings are poured concrete with a 5' frost protection to the finished outside grade. Reinforcing bars were added to the footings to minimize cracking of the footings.

The foundation walls are 8" thick poured concrete with insulation board forms. The forms were tied together with a plastic tie system which held the forms in place while the wet concrete was still fluid. The top of the 8" concrete wall was reinforced with two #4 bars to minimize any vertical wall cracking.

After the foundation wall was poured, 1/2" anchor bolts were placed in the top of the poured concrete wall to anchor a treated wood sill plate for the wood floor system which will be contructed next.

The insulation board forms were left in place to provide insulation for the crawl space. The outside face of the insulation board will be coated with a heavy textured coating which will protect the insulation board from weathering and UV rays of the sun.
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