Thursday, November 11, 2010


Recently I've been having a conversation with the author of  Relaxshacx blog about one of his upcoming projects and it got me thinking about why I decided to try building my cabin the way I did. If you've been following along from the beginning you know that my original motivation was a result of having a load of dead trees creating a variety of hazards and no real need for more firewood. I was afraid one of them would fall on me and I was getting pretty concerned about the fire load that was building up in the woods.

A snag is another term for "dead tree". But  a snag also refers to trees that have become habitat for bugs, birds and other little creatures. Think of them as wildlife condos. I  thought now would be a good time to reassure everyone that I did not remove all the snags from the property. Most of the leaves are down  now and I can get a good look at what I left on the property. I'll  be honest, there were only three reasons I didn't harvest a dead tree for the cabin.
 1. Size - this is one of my favorite old snags on the property. It is a Sycamore and although it will fall someday in the meantime it is a favorite haunt for the local Barred Owls. I have seen as many as three baby owls at once perched in its branches.This tree is way too big for me to handle confidently.
 There are also some trees I left on the ground because they were too small to be of any use. These smaller trees create a barrier between young saplings and browsing deer. Deer are a lot like people, if they see a trip hazard they will avoid it and that gives green sprouts a place to grow.
2. Characteristics - This one is just too crooked and although its days are numbered it does give the squirrels a short cut from the ground to the higher branches of other trees they call home.
3. Condition - this Red bud has been on the ground for many years and I was originally planning to use it but upon inspection it became obvious that it had serious rot. Meanwhile it has become a nice shelter for rabbits and chipmunks looking for a place to hide from the Coyotes and Red Tailed Hawks that patrol the property day and night looking for tasty treats.

Over the course of building the cabin I learned a heck of a lot about what's out there in the woods and my interest in becoming a better steward has grown considerably. Now that the cabin is up my next goal is to learn more about intentional placement and construction of habitat brush piles to promote diversity of species reduce potential fire hazard and help control erosion.
I'm still working on sealing up the cabin for the winter. A co-worker brought an almost full gallon of stain into work over the summer and put it in the break-room with a little sign that read "Free" on it. The ego-maniac in me is sure that they have been reading the blog and brought it just for me but odds are just as good that it was a coincidence. Anyway, I used it to protect the bottom courses of logs from the snow that will be coming soon.


  1. Even here in the city we have some snags behind our condo. They happen to be in a riparian zone so they are allowed to stand or fall as they see fit. One just outside our window has holes that have served as woodpecker nests. I hope it stand for many years to come. - Margy

  2. I hope so to Margy. I bet they will, old dead trees are usually a lot stronger than they look.