Thursday, November 12, 2009

Timber Wolves

Timber wolves are wild animals that look like a large dog. They have a long bushy tail and can be identified by their tail. They have longer legs, longer feet, wider head and shorter ears that stand upright. The timber wolf weighs more than 100 pounds full grown. The male weighs more than the female.

The timber wolf is many times called a gray wolf because it's coat is medium to light gray. They are found in Canada, Alaska and in wilderness areas in the northern states, like northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin.

The timber wolf is smart, strong, quick and is a hunter of deer, moose, small animals and livestock. They work in wolf packs to kill the larger animals.

A wolf pack is a family group of wolves that live together, usually over a long period of time.

Several summers ago, my wife and I were walking down one of the many trails on the cabin property when a timber wolf was walking on the same trail towards us. The wolf was looking down and didn't see us approaching. He raised his head to see us.

I thought the wolf was a neighbor's dog, but the neighbor's dog was black, so I thought it must be another neighbor's dog. The wolf reacted like a flash of lightening and disappeared into the woods in less than a second. It was only a quick flash of his bushy tail that identified him as a timber wolf.

The timber wolf has an innate fear of humans and they try to avoid people.

There is a feeling by our citizens that we may have too many wolves or not enough. This debate is ongoing. All the wolves need is a place where there's enough prey and where people won't kill them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Closing Up The Cabin For Winter

I covered the basic steps in closing a cabin and winterizing the water lines in previous posts.

The following is a master checklist we use to close the cabin for the winter or long stretches during winter. 

The main item to consider is the removing water from the piping, traps, pressure tank, hot water tank, and toilets.  The removal of the water is necessary. As water freezes, it expands and when water is contained, the pipes, traps, tank and toilets may break or leak. Hiring a plumber to fix these items can be expensive.

Consider these steps:
1. Turn off the electrical power to any submurgeable pump and electrical hot water heater. (Natural or propane gas water heaters should be turned off).

2. Turn off the water valve entering into the cabin. This may be a curb stop valve that is in the waterline and below the frost line on the exterior of the cabin.

3. Open all faucets (kitchen, vanities, tub, toilet and any outside hose bibb). Drain the hose at the kitchen sink.

4. Open the valves for the hot water heater and pressure tank. (A Pressure tank is used when a submurgeable pump is used to bring water from an underground aquifer).

5. Open the cold water and hot water valves in the basement or crawl space and let the water run into the basement or crawl space drains. (This is based on the water lines that slope toward water line valves. If the water lines do not slope toward the waterline valves, the lines will be required to be blown with pressurized air to push the water toward the valves.

6. Close the water valve that services to the toilet tank. Flush the toilet to drain the toilet water tank. Sponge the toilet tank and stool dry. Pour one cup of RV anti-freeze into the kitchen, vanity, tub drains, and any other drains. Use 2 cups in the toilet drain as the trap is larger than the other traps. Also place anti-freeze in the toilet tank. The anti-freeze will keep the drain trap water from freezing solid.

7. Turn off all electric and gas heaters. Unplug the refrigerator, toaster, coffee maker, T.V., radios and any other electrical appliance. The main power to the cabin may be turned off or left on, as an optional choice.

8. Turn on any security systems. These may be connected to the main power source. If so, leave the main power on. The power company will charge you for the electrical power that is used, but it is usually a minimum charge and will be worth your expense.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Plumbing, Ventilation, and Electrical Systems

One of the important features of a log home is the mechanical and electrical systems.

The crawl space below the main floor provides space for pipes, electrical, hot water heater and water storage tank. It is important to keep the depth of the crawl space at least 2'6" (between the bottom side of the floor to the floor of the crawl space). This space makes the workmen's job as easy as possible. More depth may be required for the hot water heater and water storage tank.

The water pipes carry fresh hot and cold water from the water storage tank to the sinks, bath tub, toilet fixtures and the outside faucet. Other pipes carry waste water to the septic tank and leaching field.

The electrical wires are usually placed in the bored vertical and horizontal holes in the exterior logs. The switch and outlet boxes are recessed into the logs. The electrican places these recessed boxes per the local electrical codes.

In the interior partitions, usually framed with wood studs and covered by gypsum board or tongue and groove wood panels, the electrical wires and piping can run between the main floor and the second or loft floor It is best to avoid pipes and duct in the exterior log walls. On the second or loft floor, the pipes, wires, and possible ducts are more difficult to hide. One possible solution is to build a double floor; that is, to build a shallow conventional floor system over the log shaped ceiling joists and wood deck. This provides space to run piping and wire to the main floor ceiling lights and any second floor sinks and toilets. Ducts may also use this space.

If sinks, toilets and ducts are not used on the second floor, the electrical wiring may use a single floor system, using wire chases top routed into the single wood board placed below the main tongue and groove second floor wood deck.

A double floor system on the second floor may also be used to reduce noise between the main and second floor rooms. Of course, this may add expense to the second floor system.

Of course, these mechanical and electrical systems are suggested guidelines. As log cabins vary greatly in design, they may require other solutions.
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