Sunday, February 09, 2003

When life gives you lemons....


In the winter of 2003, a devastating ice storm struck our farm in Kentucky. The storm coated the branches of trees until they could no longer bear the weight. For a solid day, and for several days afterwards, we heard the woods falling. 100+ year old oaks spontaneously uprooted, smashing and busting other ice-burdened trees. Some hickories would split right down the middle of their trunks like peeled bannanas. Tops broke out of towering yellow poplars and fell to the ground. It sounded like spurious and random gun fire in the woods around us.

Before the ice storm, my wife and I had several loosely formed notions about the house that we would some day build on our farm. Although we knew that we would use some of our own wood, we had no intentions of harvesting any substantial amount of timber for several years. The ice storm changed (accelerated? enlarged?) all of our plans. Before the trees had even stopped falling, my wife turned to me and said, "OK, maybe its time to order that band saw mill you have been talking about for months!"

A few weeks after the storm, we mentioned to a long time friend and craftsman that we wanted to build a house with wood from our farm, and expose some timbers on the inside. "Oh, you want to build a timberframe house... I just love those!" We didn't know what a timberframe house was, so he loaned us a book by Ted Benson (I now have 3 of Benson's books... the one our friend gave us that day was the "glossy, coffee table Benson book"... short on how to, long on breathtaking pictures) Within 24 hours of seeing that book, it was settled - we were going to build a timber frame house.

5 Comments:

Anonymous POLLYANNA MAERKER (BURTON) said...

WOW. I AM SO IMPRESSED. YOU GUYS ARE DOING AN AWESOME JOB. I CAN'T BELIEVE HOW GORGEOUS THAT HOUSE IS. I CAN'T WAIT TO SEE HOW IT LOOKS WHEN YOUR FINISHED.

May 20, 2006 at 1:33 PM  
Anonymous jason taylor said...

I stumbled across your blog via googling some options for my future house, and let me say that you are my new hero. Thanks so much for the detailed information and inspiration.

Jason Taylor

October 31, 2007 at 4:10 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

Thanks Jason. Now you have inspired me to get on here and do another blog post this week! :)

November 1, 2007 at 6:53 AM  
Blogger glenwood said...

I just read backwards through your entire blog. You are seriously living the life man, I hope your house is as rewarding to live in as it has been to make it.

You inspired me to use timberframing to build our outdoor shed, we will see how I like working on this scale, I usually build fine furniture.

February 28, 2008 at 11:04 PM  
Blogger oldmilwaukee said...

Glenwood,

Thanks for reading so thoroughly and making it all the way back to this first posting (the beginning!).

Yes, I am enjoying it, but now we're really ready to be done and live in it. Less than a year until move-in maybe? (to move in, not to finish.. that will take a bit longer!) If I had only one thing to do differently, I would have built the house smaller or in sections.

I'm sure you'll enjoy building the shed. I don't know much if anything about building fine furniture, but I would think using green (undried) wood would be the hardest thing to wrap your brain around after working on furniture. The timbers check (crack) and gaps appear in the joinery... or in my case, the gaps I started with got bigger. :) Good luck and please keep checking in.

March 4, 2008 at 7:20 PM  

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