Blog 6 of the ‘Romancing Our Way’ series. Building a Home for our Time.
We took great effort to get healthy the past couple weeks. You’ll see that we’ve also changed the website so we have a more owner-friendly platform.
Sheldon, our neighbor, came over to talk post and beam. He’s our timber consultant as he’s a carpenter by trade and is an exacting timber frame builder. Our question to him was – Can we use local wood to fashion all of the posts, beams and rafters we’ll need in our new home. We really only have two species to choose from on this property – poplar and oak. Oak is out of the question for any long spans as it would be too heavy to maneuver and it’d be too difficult to find long enough, straight enough trunks.
Poplar is the wood of choice then. Generally poplar is easy to work with. If it’s cured with spacers and a lot of weight on it, it will stay fairly straight. It never gives off splinters and will cure to be a semi-hard wood. We like the knotted, blond look of the wood when it’s planed or sanded. But, can we find long enough, straight enough and healthy enough specimens on the property – in enough numbers?
Henry, another neighbor, who just retired from his sawmill business, isn’t sure. He’s been combing Turtle Mountain for straight, healthy poplars for the past 30 years. There’s something affecting the trees. Most of them, he says, grow “ears” along the trunk. It’s a fungus that tells us the inside is going punky. Punky isn’t good when we want to hold up a roof. But, I won’t know until I take a walk in the bush. What I’m looking for is lengths of trunk about 20 feet long with no ears. If I can find them, Henry will mill them.
We need wood that would define the main living space – at least eight, 20 foot long spans to hold up the south half of the roof. That’s the length we need to ensure we don’t have support posts in the living room. The house has to feel open. Here I go, I’ll let you know what I find. . .
It certainly seems possible. There’s a ridge with mature poplar on the west side of what we call Eagle Pond. It’s not the easiest to get to with the tractor, but there seems to be enough beautifully straight wood there. The beaver have even been gnawing at some of their bases. Thanks for the help!
We love your ideas and comments. Best. David and Maggie.