Saturday, March 01, 2008

My cabin rocks!

This last week, I've been harvesting rocks. The idea is to make a small, dry-laid non-structural skirt at the base of the cabin with stones that I collect myself.

This region of Northwestern Idaho and Eastern Washington is known as the Palouse. It has some unique characteristics, including its geology. The Palouse is comprised of a bunch of silt dunes which were created after the Great Missoula Floods. These dunes are nutrient-rich rolling hills which are amazingly productive for wheat and dry peas. And since they are dunes, there are virtually no rocks, stones, or even pebbles mixed into the topsoil!

At lower elevations, volcanic basalt rock sits below the topsoil. At higher elevations, you can find granite outcroppings which were not covered by basalt. The cabin site is surrounded by granite outcroppings. In fact, the cabin foundation piers were poured directly onto a massive granite outcropping.

Where roads or rivers have cut through the topsoil, one can find exposed basalt or granite. I've been collecting stones here and there (mostly basalt). I've been gathering ones that have fallen onto or near the road after rain and snow. These are not only convenient, but nobody cares that I haul these away. I also didn't have to dig or excavate these "windfall" stones.

Considering the size and weight of some of these boulders, its going to be a slow, long-term process to collect enough and haul them up to the cabin site!! The plan is to take a few everytime I go up there with other materials (lumber, etc.) Eventually I will build up enough to be meaningful.

I'll mound the rocks loosely under the sill plates of the cabin. While the stones will be non-structural, I think it will have a nice aesthetic effect. Currently, the cabin seems to just float there on round piers. It will look great once it appears to be sitting on large, heavy stones.

There will be other benefits of this stone skirting. It will keep larger animals from dwelling under the cabin. It will also act as a wind barrier, and help prevent the wind from rapidly sapping heat through the floor on cold and windy winter nights.



At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your site was very informative and a great effort to record the work-in-progress. I discovered this site after creating my own sketchup 12'x 16' sobon like design and the following forum has an ongoing discussion. entitled "Timberframe Shed Design" I didn't put in purlins, and stayed with rafters. Your comments are welcome. Please advise if your plan to build the side extension, and how you will insulate the walls.
Good Luck

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