Log cabins on YouTube

The cabin-in-the-woods is part of the folklore of North America and it’s not surprising that there are a lot of videos about them on YouTube. Some are quite conventional second homes that just happen to be built of wood, but at the other extreme are basic log cabins built by the owners using the surrounding forest. This post is a collection of some of those YouTube channels that are worth looking at, and that might be relevant to woodland hutting in Britain.

Kyle’s cabin

https://www.youtube.com/user/sickwarriorgoalie35/

A detailed, step by step video record of how Kyle builds a log cabin using a handful of tools on forest land in Minnesota.

Martin’s old off grid log cabin

https://www.youtube.com/user/TheNorthwoodsman1/

A long series of videos going back a decade with an account of Martin’s shared hunting cabin, including some photos and home movies going back decades before that.

Bushradical

https://www.youtube.com/c/Bushradical/

Some very useful practical videos about a wide range of topics related to off grid log cabin life.

Off grid homesteading with the Boss of the Swamp

https://www.youtube.com/c/thebossoftheswamp/

Another long series of videos about living in log cabins, including many practical aspects of cabin life.

Cabin dweller

https://www.youtube.com/c/CabinDweller/

Living year round in a log cabin in north west Canada.

Cabinland

https://www.youtube.com/c/Cabinland/

Sara and Jacob are building a cluster of unique cabins from scratch, and give a flavour of what they’re doing with this polished series of videos.

Weekend Off-Grid

https://www.youtube.com/user/Jim302dew/

One video, but a good walk through of a nicely furnished log cabin.

Off grid with Doug & Stacy

https://www.youtube.com/c/OFFGRIDwithDOUGSTACY/

Doug and Stacy make their living from their homestead and live in a log cabin they built on their land. Their videos have a lot of practical details about off grid systems.

TA Outdoors

https://www.youtube.com/c/TAOutdoors/

TA Outdoors is a series of videos about building cabins and huts in British woodland from reclaimed materials like palettes or timber cut from the forest. They really do demonstrate that woodland structures don’t need to built from planed wood from a timber merchant.

There are a lot more channels and videos about log cabins on YouTube. Do you have a particular favourite I’ve not mentioned?

Log cabin updates from Century Wood

This month I’ve made two hutting related posts over on the Century Wood blog: “Storm Alex in the log cabin” and “A rocking chair”.

“I’d planned to spend most of the weekend at Century Wood before the warnings about Storm Alex started, and after a close look at the forecasts I went ahead. Despite 18 hours of continuous rain, the overnight stay was comfortable and I got a lot done on Sunday which was dry.” more …

“Last month I invested in a wooden rocking chair for the log cabin. There have been benches there for years but on an evening you want something you can sit back in. Henry David Thoreau famously had three chairs in his cabin in the woods: ‘one for solitude, two for friendship, and three for society’. more …

The Glamping Show

We went to this year’s Glamping Show today at Stoneleigh Park near Warwick. Glamping has expanded over the years to include camping pods, newly-built shepherd’s huts, and tiny houses as well as the luxurious tents, yurts etc. I’ve included a gallery of some of the photos I took which gives you a flavour of the event, and points where glamping now overlaps with hutting.

The show is explicitly aimed at landowners wanting to diversify into glamping, and had stands from everyone from wood-burning hot tub makers to online visitor booking software. In the main hall were (mostly) smaller stands and three seminar spaces. Outside were a wide selection of the kinds of tents and cabins on offer.

Hutting tends to be about having the hut or cabin or shed or whatever for much longer than glamping, where you might just hire it for a week. Most hutting is about owning the structure and maybe even the land it sits on. However, there’s now a lot of similarity in the buildings, even if the glamping huts are quite neat and commercial. They’re a lot more soulful than caravans though.

So it was really interesting to see a fun talk by Max McMurdo about upcycling and glamping, and the idea that you might furnish or even construct glamping huts or tents with reclaimed materials to get away from a manufactured feel. He also made some good comments about the experience of glamping which resonated with the experience of hutting: such as the way daylight becomes so important when man-made light is not just available at the flick of a switch; and how satisfying the most ancient human technologies such as lighting a fire can be, especially when you’re living free of wifi and “being connected”. During the questions at the end Planning Law reared its head (as it always does sooner or later), and there was also lots of good advice (like looking for materials to reclaim in skips!) Max has also got a new book out about upcycling.

dsc_0021Back in the outdoor area,  I was really pleased to have a chance to look around the tiny house from Tiny House UK. This is the first time I’ve seen one in person and I hope we see more of them in Britain. Since the ones on wheels or liftable by a crane count as a caravan in planning law,  they have the potential to make all those situations where you’re allowed a caravan to be a lot more attractive. One of these is forestry, where you’re allowed to live on site in a caravan when doing forestry work as long as it’s “less than a season”.

If you’re at all interested in doing glamping as a business then I’d recommend looking at the magazines Open Air Business and Glamping Business for the adverts and articles. There are a lot of options, including DIY approaches all the way up to companies who do all the work and share profits with you in return for use of your land.

 

Shed of the Year 2015, grand final roundup

It’s been more than a fortnight since the grand final episode of Channel 4’s 2015 Shed of the Year competition but the #shedoftheyear tweets are still being posted, and there was a lot of newspaper coverage in the day or so after the final was broadcast.

The episode began with the “Cabins/Summerhouses” and “Workshops/Studios” shed categories. For the first category, I liked Teasel’s Wood Cabin and the Pixie Cabin. For the second category, I liked the Cabin of the Green Man, and its mention of chainsaw carving. I always like anything about the Green Man anyway.

My overall favourites were Cormac’s Bothy and the Corrugated Cottage from the first and second episode, but the judges’ choice and series winner was the Inshriach Distillery from the previous episode.

During the programme, #shedoftheyear was again one of the top hashtags for the UK, and this itself generated some confused responses:

https://twitter.com/Snowripper1106/status/620340068016877568

Stories about the result appeared across the spectrum of newspapers, including the ones in The Independent, in The Scotsmanin The Daily Mail, and in The Daily Star. The Telegraph produced a gallery of photos from the competition. As a pub shed, the winner was also picked up by the drinks trade press.

This breadth of coverage was itself reflected on Twitter:

Businesses made use of the hashtag, some with interesting content to promote:

As did Glasgow University Archives:

And beach hutters:

Finally, the hashtag prompted this gem from the city of skyscrapers:

Watching the stove vs watching TV

Last week we were at the log cabin for Sunday and Monday, and I brought my computer which has a plug-in TV tuner so we could watch Episode 3 of Shed of the Year. It was good to watch it, but it felt very out of place.

Our log cabin is deliberately simple and it gets us away from the kind of urban, electronic environment we have at home. There are no electricity, water or sewerage services, and very patchy cell phone reception. So we have a wood burning stove, a sink with water from a water carrier,  and camping gas for lighting. Nearby is a composting toilet with another water-carrier wash hand basin. We do have a digital radio for the cabin which we can play music from our phones through too, and it runs off 12V batteries charged by a solar panel.

Once it’s getting dark after we’ve finished whatever forestry or tinkering or sitting in the sun we’ve planned for the day, entertainment in the cabin has been a mix of reading, listening to music, cooking and eating and drinking, listening to the radio, and above all talking to each other.

It’s hard to explain but really simple things like keeping the stove going and boiling a kettle become interesting: when it’s more than just flicking a switch and waiting for the click, because you have to split the logs you set aside a year ago, then keep an eye on how they’re burning, and wait for the slow build up of the whistle. Everything in the cabin is at a slower pace and we manage to enjoy doing nothing in particular for hours on end.

But as I said, last week we had television as a guest for an hour. It was like having one of the visitors that come to the wood, say hello, have a chat, and then head off  in their car as soon as they can. The ones that don’t want to get muddy and wander off through the trees.

So we finished watching “Shed of the Year” then put some music back on, and later the radio. Radio seems to “get it” somehow. It doesn’t expect you to look at it when you’re messing around with the hotplate from the stove for a start. It’s usually our only connection to the outside world while we’re there.

Sunday was the day of the Greek bailout referendum and we tuned in to hear what was happening. No fancy graphics and footage of leaders getting in and out of cars. Just one person at a time talking to you over the airwaves about what’s going on. Very fitting for the log cabin again. Before the midnight news on Radio 4 was Mark Tully’s “Something Understood” about “Desire Lines”. It included Peter Seeger singing “Little Boxes” in 1963 which starts:

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky,
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same.
There’s a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one,
And they’re all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Which is very much what we’re not about too.

Shed of the Year 2015, Episode 3 roundup

Last Sunday Channel 4 showed the third episode of this year’s Shed of the Year competition, with the “Pub” and “Budget” categories.

For me the Inshriach Distillery, The Shed, Cliff Hanger, and mountain shed were the stand-outs this time.

Next Sunday, the fourth and final episode has the “Cabins/Summerhouses” and “Workshops/Studios” shed categories.

Grizedale Forest

Grizedale log cabinThe log cabin photo that I use as the header image here and on Facebook is one I took at the Forestry Commission’s Grizedale Forest not far from the visitors’ centre. Grizedale is between Coniston Water and Windermere in the Lake District and covers two and a half thousand hectares. It’s one of the most wooded landscapes in England and even on the high ground you’re mostly looking out across trees.

Here are another couple of pictures. First showing a dead tree against the backdrop of forest going off into the distance. And then a windblown tree showing how shallow the root plate is and how near the surface the rock is.

Grizedale is a very accessible wood, with lots of provision for car parking at various points, and well mapped and sign-posted walking and cycling tracks. It’s also been the location for outdoor sculptures since the 1970s and there are now about 50 of them. You can track them down with the map of them you can get from the visitors’ centre or website, or you can just follow the tracks and come across them unexpectedly (but risk missing some of the harder to spot ones though!)

“How to build your dream cabin in the woods” by J. W. Fears

How to build your dream cabin in the woodsThe full title of this book is “How to build your dream cabin in the woods: the ultimate guide to building and maintaining a backcountry getaway”. In some ways it’s quite similar to “Cabinology” in that it’s about design decisions and fitting out a log cabin rather than the detailed plans of “Rustic Retreats”. However, “Dream Cabin” is squarely focused on much more modest and hut-like cabins of a similar scale to “Rustic Retreats” and a bit bigger, with just one, two, or three rooms.

There are introductory chapters devoted to cabins of increasing size, from the three-sided Adirondack shelter up to a wilderness club house for a hunting or fishing group. Subsequent chapters deal with kits vs custom builds, options for toilets, heating and cooking, lighting, beds, security, water supply, managing woodlands, legal aspects of land ownership, setting ground rules for visitors, and choosing a name for the cabin. Some of these details are specific to North America but many are applicable to huts and cabins in UK woodlands and other off-grid sites too.

You can read more reviews on the book’s Amazon page.

Shed of the Year 2015, Episode 1 roundup

Last Sunday Channel 4 showed the first episode of this year’s Shed of the Year competition, with the “Normal Sheds” and “Eco Sheds” categories. “Eco” included Cormac’s Bothy (follow the link for lots of photos) which is a handbuilt, round-log cabin in the Scottish Highlands. #shedoftheyear was trending on Twitter during and after the programme, with thousands of people posting tweets with that hashtag.

Twitter lets us get a sample of what the audience thought, and many of the comments about Cormac’s Bothy were what hutters might expect:

Others questioned whether the entrants were really sheds at all!

On Monday, Patrick Barkham’s Guardian story was getting retweeted with the #shedoftheyear hashtag too:

During the week the tweets have continued, with a mixture of people watching on catch-up, and other people using it to reach target audiences, whether that’s Cuprinol or Yale advertising their products, people proudly showing off their own sheds, or exhibitors at events like Woodfest Wales:

Next Sunday, episode two has the “Unique” and “Historical” sheds categories.

“Rustic retreats: A Build-it-yourself Guide” by David and Jeanie Stiles

Rustic Retreats“Rustic Retreats” is an American book from 1998 and has twenty four designs for wooden structures you can build yourself. These include ten types of hut, but also lean-to shelters, tree houses, lookout towers, and rafts. There are also sections on basic skills including making joints, doors, window frames,  skylights, and using living trees as structural elements in tree houses.

The full list of huts in broadly increasing order of complexity is: Garden Cordwood Hut, Bent-Pole Hut, Bark Pyramid Hut, Hillside Hut, Sauna Hut, Ivy-Covered Grow Hut, Stacked-Log Hogan, Log Cabin, Writer’s Retreat, David Hense’s Little House.

Each design is accompanied by detailed advice about the building process including some tips based on the authors’ experience and a fully itemised list of required materials. Both the materials list and the explanatory diagrams include dimensions.

You can see more reviews on the book’s Amazon page.