Today was an exciting day. Doug and I cleared overgrown trails and created new ones for the past few days so that today we could walk our woods with Roald Gundersen of Whole Trees Architecture and Construction and with his assistant Della Hansmann, who is designing our house.
We were looking for the trees that will be stripped of bark and allowed to season till mid winter, when they will be cut and dragged to the building site. These trees will form the joist and rafters and beams of our house. This is a wonderfully green way to build.
No transportation of lumber.
No energy consumed in milling and marketing it.
No waste product.
But even beyond that, the trees that we are removing from the woods to build our house will leave the forest more healthy and strong. Every tree is selected with the dual purpose of being the right member for house construction and being a tree that was crowing others, or being crowded, or had some other reason why it’s removal will benefit the trees growing near it. Roald calls it “weeding the carrot patch.”
We identified 100 trees today, and we’ll be back tomorrow to select the rest of the 140 specific timbers we will need to build our home. Next they will be trimmed and peeled so they can begin to cure as they stand.
It’s a complex process to select lumber this way, but a very gratifying one. So many times we paused to appreciate and express gratitude to these trees as we selected and labeled them. Tomorrow when I start peeling, I will thank each tree I work on.
Peeling the bark off the trees reveals a smooth, sculptural beauty. I know that there will be timbers in the house that I will identify, remember where they stood and how a team of green builders worked together in cheerful camaraderie as these beams were selected, prepped and moved along the short steps from forest to structure.
Roald estimates that we could remove enough timbers each year from our 44 acres to build up to four houses and that the woods would be healthier for it.
My post on Friday will detail the peeling process.