Good Idea

A sim­ple shed grew into a fam­ily gather­ing place.


This wood­shed got quite the up­grade.


wood­shed might be pun­ish­ment for slid­ing across a freshly mopped floor in muddy boots. At my sis­ter’s home in Ore­gon, it’s an in­vi­ta­tion to re­lax. It was the win­ter of 2006, and her hus­band, Jim, fi­nally had enough of slog­ging through the wet and cold, cradling chunks of wood while fight­ing with the weather-shred­ded tarp cov­er­ing the rest of the pile. Safely in­side af­ter yet an­other trek to the rain-slicked pile, Jim be­gan draw­ing. Pretty soon, he had a draft sketched. Be­fore sum­mer’s heat ar­rived, he and my sis­ter Verdell be­gan work­ing in earnest. The poles for the wood­shed had to be cut and peeled be­fore the sap be­gan to rise in May or early June at the lat­est. They drove the old Model A truck across the creek mul­ti­ple times to se­lect tall, straight trees from their 10-acre farm. When the pole pile re­sem­bled a small moun­tain, the te­dious work of strip­ping the bark be­gan. “It was al­most like peel­ing an ap­ple,” my sis said. “I used a small hatchet to slice the bark from top to bot­tom, strip­ping the bark back. I could do five or six poles in an hour.” Jim lev­eled the shed area and built a re­tain­ing wall of rock at the back, be­fore shov­el­ing gran­ite in and rak­ing it level. He set ce­ment blocks in place for the foun­da­tion. Then they ham­mered the pole frame in place and nailed rough­sawed lum­ber to the frame­work. A metal roof com­pleted it. Now, most peo­ple would be con­tent with dry fire­wood stored un­der a de­cent roof, but Jim and Verdell wanted more. A porch ram­bles across the front, dec­o­rated with rock­ing chairs. My sis’s hand­made quilts soften rocker squeaks, and the grand­kids clam­ber on an an­tique wagon. Jim made a faux win­dow in the front, fold­ing a burlap bag into a re­al­is­tic frame. An elec­tri­fied kerosene lamp of­fers a soft glow. In­side, this wood­shed holds more than four cords of wood to ward off the win­ter cold. The whole thing cost Jim and Verdell about $700 to build. But tea and toast on the wood­shed porch? That’s price­less.

Cher Tom’s grand­son An­den finds a good spot to kick back on his greataunt and un­cle’s wood­shed porch.

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