I remember sitting at the top of our front stoop and dumping Lincoln Logs out of their cardboard canister. The many pieces would scatter across the brown cement, but I would carefully gather them up and arrange them into their different categories, long logs, medium logs, the small end logs, the roof beams and finally the green wooden slats that would make up the roof.

My troll family, orange, blue and green hair standing up on end, typically stood in a row off to the side, intently watching the construction process as their cabin home took shape. Finally, the last roof slat in place, the troll family would enter their new home, hair first, quite likely for the 100th time or so. I never did keep count of the many builds.

Now, many, many decades later, I wonder if all of those childhood troll cabins might have paved the way for the log house that Greg and I have been building for the past year and a half. Our home’s logs, however, are really quite different from the Lincoln Logs of my childhood. They are not round, but rather measure six by twelve inches, and there is chinking in between each course, but other than the shape of the logs and the chinking, the
similarity is still quite striking, even down to the green roof, though ours is metal, not made of wood slats. There is another similarity to the troll houses of my childhood that I did not realize until today. As we have built our house, we have been placing the unused wood down in the basement.

There was a large log that we did not use as a front porch beam. We carefully checked the architect’s plans, and they only called for 10 beams, but we had eleven, so down in the basement went the extra log.

We could only fit 13 stairs from the basement to the first floor, but we had 15 stair logs. The two extra logs joined the porch beam down in the basement. There were extra ceiling beams, and many extra board feet of the two by six tongue- and-groove boards that span the ceiling beams and the first floor loft. Eventually, it seemed as though it was getting harder and harder to move about the basement.

I remembered back to my troll house days. There always were a few Lincoln Logs left over. I would carefully place them back in the canister and perhaps take a few out later to make into a troll bed or add them around the perimeter as an outside garden wall. Now I wondered what to do with our basement filled with big pieces of wood. Greg was working on the door and window trim and suggested that I take as much of the leftover wood as I
thought burnable over to the scrap pile. The few pieces that were usable I could stack down in the dry half of the tobacco barn.

I began to sort through the wood. It seemed that I was placing it all in the back of the pickup truck to take down to the barn. I set only a few small pieces off to the side to take over to the burn pile. When my second pickup truck load was just about done, Greg leaned over the front railing and asked what I was doing. “Saving the wood,” I replied.

“Now what are you going to do with all that wood?” he inquired.

In my mind, I was thinking about building a troll house, but I answered that this piece would make a nice outside bench, and this one could be a chair, and another a small porch table. Greg smiled and came down to the truck to help me load the last of the wood into the back of the truck. We then drove down the hill together to the tobacco barn, and together we added the second truck full to the already big stack of big wood.

We stood back and looked at the leftover wood. “We almost have enough for another house,” Greg said. I thought again of my childhood troll houses, but decided to keep quiet, just for now. We still have our own home to finish, but it certainly occurred to me that it would be fun to build a troll cabin off in the woods. Shh ...

Christine Tailer is an attorney and former city dweller who moved several years ago, with her husband, Greg, to an off-grid farm in south-central Ohio. Visit them on the web at straightcreekvalleyfarm.com.