I awoke as usual before dawn, peeling out of my sleeping bag and fumbling around for my boots and coat. Cold air rushed in as I unzipped the tent and crawled out. Overnight a light blanket of snow had fallen. A slight northerly breeze was gently brushing the snow off the pine needles high above.
My routine over the last several weeks was to brew some coffee and start a fire. As I reached into the tent for my water jug (kept it in the tent so it would not freeze), I had the overwhelming sense I was not alone. Looking over my left shoulder no more than 20 to 25 feet away stood a large buck.
Only a few seconds went by before I realized this wasn’t a Bambi moment, Jiminy Christmas its rutting season! Quickly, I did a peripheral scan for an escape route. But for some reason, we just starred at each other motionless. With antlers on his left side and a missing rack on his right (probably battle damage) side, shoulder muscles beautifully sculptured, you could tell this wasn’t his first rodeo. He was an impressive and potentially menacing brute.
Our staredown continued only for a few minutes; then, suddenly, he turned and disappeared into the forest. Well, I thought, that hurt my feelings; I suppose I wasn’t enough of a testosterone threat. Before long, four does appear hardly aware of my presence.
Dormers, Dormers, Domers
Sheeting the outside of the cabin with 1/2 plywood was nearly complete, and I was looking forward to the next step of setting windows, doors and starting on the siding. However, the builder had an epiphany about building dormers instead of framing for skylights as planned. I knew dormers were common in the northeast, but rarely in the west unless in high-end homes.
With a solicitant voice, he asked me what I thought of the dormer idea. I said, “I didn’t care if doing so would not significantly push us further behind, but I wasn’t paying the bills.” Regardless, I said, “I just want the building done as soon as possible.” The days were becoming shorter, which reduced the hours we could work, and Thanksgiving was fast approaching. I was hesitant about changing anything planned, which would delay the cabin completion. I didn’t think the owner (still paying the bills for materials) would go for it, but I was wrong.
I was right about one thing, however, with a 3-day break for Thanksgiving, finishing the outside sheeting, setting windows and doors, and building the dormers took us well into the first week of December.
Much of the state continued to be in a multi-year drought. Day time temperatures were mild, and snowstorms were few and far between, and when it did snow accumulations were small and melted quickly. Temperatures at night were cold, but not subzero, which meant the ground was not frozen. The environmental conditions turned out to be a blessing because I had hired a local contractor to install the septic system.
The contractor showed up with his equipment soon after Thanksgiving. With one employee, he excavated the site, set a 1,500-gallon concrete tank, laid piping for the leaching field, connected everything, had it inspected by the county and backfilled in 4 days.
Of course, there was an alternative solution for wastewater treatment proposed by the builder. Someone dug a deep hole about 50 feet from the cabin and placed a toilet over the hole. The makeshift potty had been there for years. The builder suggested that we enclose the head with a small building, that is, an outhouse. I looked at him and said, “you can’t be serious?” He was serious. I just walked away shaking my head.
Refreshing to see a true professional at work, it was worth every penny of the $7,000 I paid him.
There are various types of septic systems. The one installed on my property is a conventional system, which consists of the septic tank and a drain field. I believed it was essential to have it professionally installed and inspected by the county health department to mitigate possible groundwater contamination.