Friday, April 21, 2006
Backstory and horses
These are Dan and Cee, the two horses that the Amish work crew brought in to help them clear the land where my parents wanted to build. There was a lot of salable timber in that lot, most of it cherry trees. In lieu of payment, the lumber was carried off, milled, and appraised. Then it was decided how much the work had been worth and how much wood would be an equitable trade. The leftover wood was handed back to my Mom and Dad. There are enough board feet of cherry in what they got back to cover the dining room and living room floors. The cherry will be lying almost directly over the place where it once stood. I think that's pretty cool.
This idea of a cabin in the woods has been an ongoing discussion for as long as I can remember. There have always been magazines about log home-building and books of floor plans tucked in various corners of wherever we were living. It's been so long in coming, I was beginning to think it would never happen. They bought part of this property back when I was in high school, some 20 years ago now. A little while after that, a lot right next to it came up for sale. They bought that too, and joined it to the first piece. This gave them access to the cul-de-sac at the top of the mountain. Now their property extends from the top of the mountain all the way to the bottom.
A couple of years ago they finally got the finances sorted out, found a plan they both liked from a company named Lincoln Log Homes -- yup, same name as the toy building blocks. There's even a link to the home-building site from the toy site. See it? In teeny print at the bottom?
The way the Amish got involved in the whole thing is like this: a lot of Amish having been moving into my parents' area in recent years, coming mainly from Ohio. It's a fairly large community now. Mom and Dad were out for a drive one afternoon, having a conversation about finding a contractor for the house. Just then they passed by an Amish farm that had a sign in the yard, advertising the farm's owner as a builder and carpenter. They pulled into the driveway and talked to the man, asking him if he thought he could build a log cabin from a kit. He thought he could, and he knew a lot of people who'd welcome the work. And just like that, with a few words and a handshake, they had the promise of a team of builders. He asked that they not refer to him as a "contractor"--something scriptural about contracts, apparently. So Mom asked what they should call him. "How about calling me 'Danny?'" he responded.
The horses in that picture are his. I'm not sure I have this right, but I think he's the one who milled the wood. He deals a lot with the English (the Amish really do refer to anyone from the outside world as "English." That wasn't just a gimmick they used in Witness), and has provided a lot of work for his fellow Amishmen. Wherever he lives, though, he tends to annoy the bishops. He skates right on the very edge of what's allowed, and I know of at least one time he was approached and formally corrected. He had too many worldly possessions to suit the group, apparently, and they told him he needed to give away one of his horses. Yes, he had to give it away, not sell it. He wasn't allowed to profit from the loss of it. So one of his little boys had to say goodbye to his pony. But Danny did get his point across to them. He made sure it didn't go to an Amishman. If he wasn't going to profit from his loss of it, neither would they. He gave it to a little English boy.
He finally got sick of them meddling in his affairs. I have a feeling this happens to him wherever he goes, too--he's lived a number of places. Not long after he finished my parents' house, he auctioned off his animals, his furniture, and various pieces of his farm equipment, sold the land, and moved his very large family to Virginia. Everybody misses him, especially my folks.
I live too far away to have witnessed most of the construction. Mom got a digital camera for Christmas a few years ago, and would email Ditter and me illustrated updates. The pictures had filenames like "still life with cement mixer" and "this is what happens when you play with Lincoln Logs too long." I've been trying to upload the latter to this Blog, but Blogger's having none of it. I wonder why. Oh well. Maybe next post. Since I didn't take the pictures myself, I can't load them into Flick'r, or I would. Well, I guess I am able, but I may not do it. Copyright infringement and all.