Cabin restoration project – Out with the old

Alternate title: Don’t judge a cabin by its (wall) cover πŸ˜‰

I didn’t think I’d be able to show you any progress at the cabin for a little while, but the opportunity came up last weekend, so the Woodsfamily loaded up the car with tools, gloves, dust masks and grub and headed out to the country.

The first step of the project involved going through the things in the house to separate the good stuff that could be reused from the junk that would be thrown away. We salvaged lots of kitchen items, cots, bed frames, cabinets, end tables, chairs, counter tops and suchlike. We put the salvageable items in the large room and the junk outside in a large pile to be disposed of. As I’ve mentioned before, the house is equally divided into a large living room/kitchen on one side and four smaller rooms on the other side. The part with the smaller rooms will become the restored cabin, and the large room will be converted into a terrace later on. So the items which have been salvaged will sit in the large room until they are ready to be cleaned and put in the restored cabin.

So you can get an idea of what we all had to work with, here are a few before shots:

As soon as we got the contents of the rooms cleared out, the fun could begin. Here’s what we found in the ceiling in the kitchen-to-be. It was like unwrapping Christmas presents. πŸ™‚

In another room, the walls were covered by newer wallpaper, some kind of fiberboard, old floral wallpaper and thick brown paper. Yes, that is sphagnum moss between the logs!

Yours truly, tearing the place apart. πŸ™‚

Making progress.

Some of the Woodsbabe’s relatives helped out a lot as well. Check out this old wallpaper.

After several hours of work, this is what the place looked like.

More sphagnum moss.

As I mentioned before, the floors will have to be replaced. Here’s one reason why.

The big room will hold a lot of stuff until the cabin is ready.

While some of the grown-ups were busy tearing rooms apart, the Woodsboy helped great-grandpa remove a large anthill from the vestibule.

He also helped move some non-dangerous junk outside.

After stripping the walls, we threw the junk out the window, which we then moved to a pile away from the house.

The Woodsboy’s great-grandpa has started to clear away the decades of overgrowth from around the house. The place is really starting to look more like a yard and less like an abandoned lot!

I know some of you are waiting to see pictures of some of the goodies we’ve found at the house, so let’s get to it. In one corner of the property, we found an old log building with antique plows sticking up from the rubble.

Eventually, this heap will be turned into firewood and decorations. πŸ™‚

Last, but not least, here are some of the knives we’ve found so far. The top two are traditional Finnish puukko knives, the third one is an old Mora from Sweden and the bottom one is some unidentified older knife.

In addition to these things, I also found a wild plant identification book from 1968 in great condition. It’s specific to Finland, which is awesome, because I’ve been looking for a book like this for years.

By the way, if you’d like to see how buildings like the one above were made in the old days, check out this post.

Have a great weekend!

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Cabin restoration project – Introduction

Earlier this year, I made mention of an old homestead in the Woodsbabe’s family which we were hoping to be able to use for things like gardening, canning/smoking/preserving food, cooking/heating with wood, working on projects and also for camping, fishing, bushcraft etc. Then in June, my hopes were dashed when, upon visiting it, the 120-year-old house seemed to be in unusable shape. Fortunately, some recent findings have put the possibility of using the place firmly back on the table. But I’ll get to that later on. First, I’ll give you a little info and a quick tour of the place.

The old homestead is located on a dirt road in a rural area in Eastern Finland where the population density is very low. It was a working farm for many years, but hasn’t been inhabited year-round for 40+ years (though there is a small sauna building there which has been used sporadically since then). There are roughly 12.5 acres (5 hectares) of woods, 5 acres (2 hectares) of old fields and a little more than an acre (0.5 hectares) for the buildings, yard and garden. The house was heated by several wood stoves and has one large living room/kitchen and four smaller rooms. There’s a barn/storage building with old tools, horse tack, fishing nets and lots of other interesting stuff. The last time we were there, the Woodsbabe took some pictures.

The old barn/storage building:

And a few pictures of the main room inside. Unfortunately, this really cool stone fireplace will have to go:

Old-timey picture of some of the house’s past occupants:

The good news I mentioned earlier is that the house isn’t as dilapidated as we all thought. Well, one side of it is, the side with the living room/kitchen. This side is not usable as-is. But removing some of the paneling from the walls on the side of the house with the smaller rooms showed that the logs of that part are in great condition and still very usable. The floors are iffy, but the walls, windows and even the roof (replaced in the 1940s) are in comparatively great shape. This being the case, the owner has decided to restore this part of the house as a rustic cabin with exposed log walls, and we have volunteered to help get the place into shape. In exchange, we’ll be able to use the cabin, yard etc. for recreation. πŸ™‚

So over the coming months, I will be periodically reporting back to you with pictures of the restoration as it progresses, and I’ll also show you some of the old tools and other equipment of this old farm. Then when the place is fully usable, which will probably be next spring, I’ll show you how we spend our time there!

A little fishing and a lot of berries!

At the beginning of August, the Woodsbabe, Woodsboy and I joined my in-laws at the cabin to enjoy some summer sun, boating, fishing and berry picking. We suited the Woodsboy up, who was chomping at the bit to head out.

We hopped in the boat, and Woodsbabe rowed…

…while I fished. πŸ˜€ Thanks Woodsbabe! πŸ˜‰

On the other side of the lake, there were boulders in one direction:

And berries galore in the other:

We picked bilberries (vaccinium myrtillus):

And northern bilberries (vaccinium uliginosum):

We saw some cow berries (vaccinium vitis-idaea), but they’re not ripe yet:

I snapped this picture nearby. The lichen and plants kind of look like a miniature forest to me.

Upon returning to the cabin, the Woodsboy and I set up the hand-line fishing rig with a piece of a fake worm and tried our luck.

We managed to get two roach fish (rutilus rutilus) like this:

After fishing, we looked around the yard for more berries. We found rowan berries (sorbus genus) (note: these are not poisonous, but are very bitter and could bother your stomach!):

Black currants (ribes nigrum):

And white currants (ribes rubrum):

Then the Woodsboy and I headed down the dirt road to find more berries. We found a lot of raspberries (rubus idaeus):

And stone bramble (rubus saxatilis):

We also saw unripe lilly of the valley (convallaria majalis). They turn orange when ripe. DO NOT EAT THESE BERRIES, as they are poisonous!

As we walked back, I shot this field of fireweed (chamerion angustifolium). Many of the seed pods have opened and released their fluff.

This is probably the most prolific time of year for berries in Finland. The wild strawberries (fragaria vesca) are mostly long gone now, hence no pictures of them in this post. The last berries to ripen should be the cow berries and black crowberries (empetrum nigrum), which will last into the autumn.

Hope you enjoyed this little tour of some of Finland’s wild and cultivated berries. πŸ™‚

Disclaimer: Consuming wild edible plants and/or using them for medical purposes is done at your own risk. Always be 100% certain of what you are eating/doing. If unsure, contact an expert.

Saaremaa, Estonia – July 2013

If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you might remember my camping trip to Saaremaa, Estonia in September 2012. Last month, I returned to Estonia’s largest island with the family in tow. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time for any bushcraft or camping this time around, but we did visit a lot of interesting sites and hit up the island’s main attractions.

As is probably the case with many tourists on Saaremaa, the 14th-Century castle was one of our first stops.

After strolling around the town just outside the castle, we drove out to neighboring Muhu island, where we were able to take a look inside a traditional Saaremaa-style thatch-roofed cabin. As you can see, there is no other roofing material besides the thatch. It was the roof of choice for poor people for a long time due to it’s low cost and availability. A roof like this can last 50 years!

One of Saaremaa’s main attractions is the Kaali meteorite crater lake, which was formed…you guessed it…by a meteorite which fell to Earth sometime between 4,000 and 8,000 years ago.

In case you’re wondering, yes, there are (introduced) fish in it.

While driving along the coast on our way to another of the island’s attractions, the Panga Cliffs, we stopped at the seaside to explore.

Rather than sand, pebbles, rocks or boulders, the sea bed at this location is actually smooth slabs of dolomite.

Nearby shore with junipers.

When we reached the cliffs, the Woodsboy and I headed out first, and the Woodsbabe snapped this pic (actually, she took a lot of the pictures in this post).

A few pictures from the countryside.

My Finnish readers will appreciate the name of this small Village. πŸ˜‰

Anyone familiar with Saaremaa knows of the “windmill hill” in the village of Angla. These types of windmills were used to grind flour in the olden days.

This site also has some farm animals for the kiddies and some exhibits with items from yesteryear.

While on our way to the lighthouse on the peninsula in the southwest, we saw these rock piles at the shore.

Here’s the lighthouse as viewed from the very tip of the peninsula.

On our last day on Saaremaa, we ate at a unique restaurant in town. At some point in it’s history, it was converted from a working windmill to a restaurant with several dining stories inside.

On our way home, we spent a night in the medieval old town of Tallinn, Estonia’s capital. Here’s a shot from up on high.

Hope you enjoyed this peek at my favorite island!