Monday, July 19, 2010

Earth Lodge.

John, Joe's father, bought a gravel pit in 1992. The gravel production had ceased and the county sold 17 acres of unusable and rarely desirable land for $9,000. Over the years all the gravel excavating sites have gotten covered with grass and other vegetation, and the property has acquired a rather hilly terrain, not so typical for this part of Minnesota.

Johh has a passion to make things and experiment. He had built an earth lodge on his property and lived in it for a few years. He told us that he had salvaged a lot of building materials, dragged the logs by himself, and this way he was able to keep the costs low. The price tag for his first earth lodge was around $500.
The construction of the lodge is very simple. There are four posts in the middle, the supporting beams. Then there are beams going across. The rest are laid all around the perimeter. The diameter of the earth lodge is about 24 feet, with a living room space, a kitchen space and a bedroom space. Even the furniture was made from scraps. This chair looks comfy!
Then the logs are covered with a tarp material and dirt is thrown on top. A sky light and a few side windows let plenty of light in. It was pretty cool inside even though we were visiting on a very hot day. The dirt works great as an insulator. And in the winter with the wood burning stove going it gets pretty hot.
Since John and Maria got married, they moved to a windmill house.
"I don't like to use the earth lodge as a storage, but somehow the things are piling up", John said with a slight nostalgic tone."I loved living here. It is a very comfortable place", he continued.
While I was talking to John and taking pictures, Mirek was getting some ideas. Maybe we could build an animal shelter or a working place for Mirek, or an art studio for me and the kids in the future when we find a place for us. You never know!

Then John led us to yet another earth lodge. This one was built by his daughter and her husband a few years ago. For a while they lived here with their 3 children, but then moved to Minneapolis, then to California, and then, again, to Minneapolis. It cost them roughly $3,000 to build it.

As John was telling us: " They loved being here. They had a good time, had a garden going, with herbs and flowers, had some animals. But then got tired of the hassle of finding work and getting there. So, they moved out".
This second earth lodge had a few woman's touches. There were some tiles on the floor in the kitchen area, a few decorations and it seemed to be more airy, too.

After our visit I understood Maria's telling us the day before:"You have to come to visit us. We have quite a set up!" A sparkle in her eyes gave me a slight hint of a possibility of an extraordinary sight. And quite a set up they have!


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