The Dogtrot

I have mentioned a few times here that our home began as a cabin in 1840 and was modernized in the 1920’s.  Apparently, modernization of your cabin was quite common, and often took place over time.

I’m certain that many scenarios went like this.

The main cabin was constructed and this construction was known as a pen.  The upstairs was accessed by a ladder or notched log, and this loft was the sleeping quarters.  The fireplace cooked your meals,  kept you warm and dry in winter and turned the inside of the cabin into a furnace in the summer months!

Later you built an outside kitchen to keep the house cooler.  You also added a second pen with what we would call a breezeway in between them.  This new structure would become what is known as a dogtrot cabin.

Further modifications that would happen as time went by would be to add the kitchen as a separate room on the back, and even later in time, the luxury of an inside bathroom!  😉

We had the opportunity to do a bit of exploring this past Sunday on the mountain and ran into an excellent example of an old dogtrot cabin.  This is very similar to the construction of our home on the Mountain Farmlet.

On the outside of our old cabin the owners really updated the look by adding a clapboard covering (the front) and a *board and batten veneer over sides and back of the log structure.  Later they enclosed the dogtrot and added windows to the cabin to make it match the new addition.

Can you see our home’s history when you look at it now?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe dogtrot is behind the cow.  The previous owners closed in the center door.  It is our intention, as time goes by, to open the doorway back up and make it the main entrance.

The old place is like the “Haunted Shack” at Knott’s Berry Farm in California.  Which means that nothing is entirely level, nor is it square.

HauntedShackOK, it’s not that bad.  😉

However, the foundation men have been here this past week and the floor is sound and newly supported with proper house supports.  Gone are the rocks, tree stumps, and logs, that were rotting away and bug ridden.


NOTE:  I want to give a special shout out to the fellows at Quality Foundation and Repair out of Muscle Shoals, Al.  They started this job and worked in very cramped quarters to see that it was done, and even went into extra innings to remove the 7 layers of rotten bathroom flooring, two of which were sandwiched old carpeting!  You just wouldn’t believe it if you saw it, and unfortunately I forgot my camera that day.


Construction terms and a bit of history can be found below:

A complete explanation of the types and construction of the log home can be found here in a PDF  entitled:  The Pioneer Log House of Kentucky by William J. Macintire.  I feel that this is a comprehensive and awesome read!

*Board-and-batten:  an exterior treatment of vertical boards with battens (smaller boards) covering the seams.

*Clapboard:  an exterior treatment of horizontal boards that overlap as you build them up.  Look HERE

Curiosity killed the cat.

And satisfaction brought it back.

In the old homestead on the Mountain Farmlet, there was a wall that had a funny bulge.  The bulge was very firm and would not budge.  However, just to the left side there was an odd caving spot that was very movable.

One day while there alone my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to investigate…

It was like peeling an onion. 

Off came the chair rail, then the paneling.  Underneath of the paneling there was scrap wood, foam board, cardboard, chip board, seven layers of ancient wall paper, and some cotton fabric that had been soaked in mastic and applied to a rather large void.  On one side of the void were large 12 and 14 inch planks, and on the other side was tongue and groove wood siding.  The top of the fabric nearest to the ceiling had been opened at some point in the past, and so…

I removed it to reveal this!

What-was-insideIf you do not recognize it, then I will tell you.  It is the northwest corner of the log cabin that was built in 1840.  The odd cut length of the log’s ends are why the wall bulged in this spot.

I was so surprised to find that there was no mold or mildew under all that old paper.  But now what to do about this uneven wall?

It was suggested to me by the Octogenarian’s daughter-in-law that I might put a viewing window here.  I think she may be right.  It will require us to do a bit more revealing,  some brushing and vacuuming, and the hole will have to be framed out and some plexiglass installed as well, but I think it will be fun to leave a portion of the original home open to view.  Don’t you agree?

In other news  we must report that we are at a standstill as to what we can do to the house to repair it.  We have to wait for the foundation man and the plumber to work their magic first.  Then we can call in the electrician to fix the wiring.  It is going to take some time.

So yesterday, with intentions to work in the yard, we arrived with shovels and rakes, work gloves and boots, only to succumb to a mild summer day and a blue sky with big white clouds.


We walked in our woods, then sat on the bench on the front porch to eat our lunch.  We observed a Carolina Wren building a nest in the newspaper slot under our mailbox and watched the butterflies and bumble bees sipping nectar.

Later we walked by the pond


Buddy found a *rat snake near the ravine, and Bob finally got to go exploring!  He makes me smile every time he says:

“It still hasn’t sunk in that this is really ours.” Or, “This is such a beautiful place, I wonder if it is for sale?” 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOh yes, and something is missing in this picture.  Do you remember what it was?

NOTES on Rat Snakes:

Rat snakes (aka: chicken snakes) are really maligned!  I went looking for a picture of one for you to see and everywhere I turned there were rants about them.  You know, they will eat your chickens eggs if they can get into your coop, but hey!  Secure your coop!!!  There is a reason they are also called RAT snakes,  and they can be very helpful in rodent control if you keep animals and feed.

I am not above touching one of these farmyard visitors… when, and if, the need arises!  LOOK HERE

Besides, the last time I saw a “chicken snake” on the farmlet, well, the rooster and my 15 hens were chasing it off the premises!  😉

Visitor--Black Rat Snake

Visitor–Black Rat Snake (Photo credit: cotinis)