Jilly D.

My throne has an oak seat

In Off-The-Grid Memoir on January 12, 2014 at 2:40 am

100_1025In 1992 Sam took the month of August off from trucking. Same month and year I moved from Athens, Georgia, to 11 acres right around the corner from his folks. He started building a cabin near the pond on the back 40 acres of his parent’s farm. He went back on the road trucking but spent his time off working on his new home with what he could afford. He spent years on the road living in his truck; without paying rent, utilities, groceries or other home expenses. With his savings he invested in his little house on the pond.

The following August he spent another month finishing the cabin, building a table and bed, and constructing a goat shed. In August 1994 Sam came home for good. He sold his truck, bought four solar panels and batteries, moved into the cabin and set up farming operations with a couple goats and his dog, Buddy.100_1028

While he drove thousands of miles cross country as a truck driver, Sam came up with a floor plan for the original 20 ft. X 14 ft. cabin. It included a main room, small bedroom and a lean-to kitchen. Sam didn’t need blueprints because he’d built the entire thing in his head on the road. He did sketch the floor plan on graph paper in a composition notebook for reference.

The board and batten siding match the rough cut lumber used for interior walls. A 6 ft. X 20 ft. porch off the front of the cabin faced southwest along the shore of Warren Pond. Eventually Sam framed in the porch with floor-to-ceiling triple-pane windows. He laid stone floor, over water tubing placed in sand, so we could have radiant floor heat.

100_1032The cabin is our home. Our bedroom is the length of our full size mattress. The room is 5 feet long and 10 feet wide. There are built-in shelves above our feet and storage under the bed. An open, steep, staircase angles up over the bed to the loft above.  A corner shelf boasts a white antique water pitcher and a framed 8 X 10 inch mirror.

100_1027The main room has two woodstoves; a large cast iron cook stove and an old Ben Franklin stove. The table Sam made from pine; built-in benches sit over the storage batteries for the alternative energy we generate. Two straight back chairs are used by visitors.

A stainless steel sink sits in a washboard cupboard Sam built. Hot and cold water come out of a Pitcher Pump for the kitchen faucet. Above the sink are shelves filled with tin plates, bowls, cups, glass mixing bowls, coffee mugs, glasses, and glass decanters of flour and sugar. His grandmother’s wooden butter bowl rests safely on the very top shelf. The handle on the hand-crank coffee bean grinder is bright red back in the corner left of the sink. The silver tray and knife racks are next to the bean grinder. Cast iron skillets, pots, griddles, pans and colanders hang on the wall behind the wood cook stove. The rough cut lumber walls have nails pounded in to hang up antique farm tools; old saws, drills, chisels, levels, hammers, hatchets, and such.

Staring at these rough cut lumber boards on the walls, Sam has drawn in pencil several full scale renditions of animals using the grain, knots and texture of the wood. He highlighted the images that popped out at him from the wood. One drawing of a goat stares at you from one side of the room and as you move to the other side, the goats’ gaze follows you; a shifting double perspective.

The water closet is literally that. A white porcelain toilet sits immediately to the right of the bathroom door with two shelves above it. A propane hot water tank is immediately to the left.  The bath tub is above the bedroom in the loft. Fed by gravity, the well forces the water upstairs where there is an old claw foot porcelain tub. The loft is additional storage space for all my arts and crafts, out of season clothing, photos and memorabilia.

Originally the cabin had an outdoor outhouse. It still stands, but it doesn’t get much use anymore. I wouldn’t commit to farm life without an indoor flush toilet. My throne has an oak seat. As a backwoodsman, Sam claimed for years to enjoy the start of everyday by going out to the privy.

“Fresh air in your nose. The sunshine in your face. Wakes you right up!”  Sam said.

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  1. Fantastic, Jill. I love your stories and your wild man, Sam. I also loved a man who could fix or build most anything. Couldn’t afford the rent for a house on the lake in 1968, so he bargained with an offer to repair the roof and other rotting parts of the place and put on new shingles. He kept the place from rotting into Cayuga Lake until we bought our own falling down place. Let the world fall apart, we say in the company of such a man. We have a strong roof, a few wood stoves, a pile of dry firewood, and an oak throne.

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