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Published: November 9th 2009
Thursday, November 5th
We continued with the course and after successfully cutting our first dove-tail joint Ferdi felled his first tree. It was quite an adrenaline rush, leaving his arms a little weak. We planted four big logs as a foundation for the structure we will build during the course. The structure is the top part of the gable-end of the roof and covers every technique needed to build your entire log home. There was also a bit of tension in the group because two of the guys has very strong personalities and lots of tree felling experience and tried to dominate every aspect of the build, dispensing advice as if they were the teacher. Bruce, by no means unfamiliar with this kind of situation, handled it well.
We had to cut the foundation logs so that they are all level with each other, but with three chainsaws running in such close proximity it was a little scary. At one point Plat, the crazy Russian guy, almost walked into both Ferdi and Dave’s chainsaws. He doesn’t seem to have any regard for his life or that of anyone else. Ferdi got furious and removed himself from the group for a
By the end of the day we were totally exhausted, but unbeknownst to us, our day was far from over. Back home, a discussion between Bruce and Paul (the owner of Rongo and the Baches where we were staying) turned very negative. A lot of nonsense and politics later we all decided to move out. We didn’t need that kind of negativity when all we’re trying to do is help. We packed as much as we could then went to bed.
1. Ferdi felling his first tree.
2. Packing up.
Friday, November 6th
We packed the rest of our stuff, cleaned the house, and we all moved out. We dropped all of Bruce’s stuff in a container behind the Global Gypsy shop and drove to our building site. Wobbles was very unhappy in the van. She’s not used to cars and travelling. As soon as she got onto Talita’s lap, she started purring and felt much better about being in the car. At the site we enjoyed egg sammies and then let Wobbles out of the van. She made a bee-line for the cow pasture next to the building site and ended up underneath
a pile of off-cut branches where she stayed for the rest of the day.
We continued building the structure and did a very difficult Saddle joint. Our confidence was building and we felt very happy with our progress. At the end of the day Bruce struggled quite a bit to get Wobbles out from under the branch pile, but in the end managed to lure her out with some food. We drove to Dave Guppy’s place with Wobbles while Bruce went back to Global Gypsy. Dave said we could live in their driveway for a few nights and after jumping on the trampoline with their boys the Guppy family went out to a party. After dinner and a shower we spotted Wobbles skulking around the vans and hoped she would spend the night in Tim’s van. We couldn’t catch her so we went to bed and slept like logs.
1. Moving out.
2. Successfully making a Saddle joint.
Saturday, November 7th
We had breakfast at the building site and continued the structure. Bruce wasn’t present during the morning session because he wanted us to use what he’d taught us and work through the problems by
It takes precision cutting and lots of eye-balling
If you mess up the cut, you have to go to the forest, select another tree, fell it, debark it, level it, groove it and try your cut again
ourselves. The techniques for building log homes are extremely simple. It’s a thought pattern more than a set of rules to follow. There’s a solution to every problem, it’s just a matter taking your time and thinking it through.
Tim tried to fell his first tree, but without Bruce’s guidance it got hung up in the trees surrounding it. After a titanic battle Bruce arrived and with a quick cut in the right place and a rope to pull the tree a little to the side, it finally came down.
We had a few interested visitors at the site. One of these was Shaun and his family. Bruce describes him as the ultimate New Zealand bush-man. He knows everything there is to know about the bush, hunting, guiding and everything outdoors. Although he has built many houses and barns in the past, he was very interested in the log building course because he plans to build a log home in the near future. Once again he invited us to his place and we decided it was time to visit him after work.
Just before 6pm we called it a day and drove out to Shaun’s place. As
we drove down his driveway we spotted him carrying his rifle and a newly deceased rabbit. We said hi to his Japanese wife Naomi and their little girl Sala. Shaun took us on a tour of their house/ barn and showed us some of his many guns. Being a gun nut himself, Ferdi really enjoyed that part of the tour. Ferdi was honoured and excited when Shaun invited him to go deer hunting in the near future. To hunt with such an experienced bush-man would be a great learning experience.
In NZ when you’re invited for late afternoon tea, it actually means dinner. We, of course, had forgotten about this and before we knew it Naomi served us a delicious mushroom and noodle dish in their bush-kitchen. After dinner and tea we all went for a long walk through the fields and bush surrounding their property. By 9pm it was turning dark and after many thanks and promises of a future visit (as well as an offer to come park our van at their place) we said goodbye to Shaun, Naomi and Sala, and drove back to Dave’s place. They had a few friends over, sitting around a fire,
but after a glass of wine and a delicious banana split dessert we went to bed.
1. Visiting Shaun and his family. Thought for the day:
The Kiwis we’ve met so far are really friendly and hospitable people. It’s amazing to get to know so many people in the community and making so many friends.
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