Harvesting the Past

Harvesting the Past
(A non-traditional recipe for unusual living)

Paul and Janell Davenport of rural Bellevue, Ohio would like to share a recipe with anyone interested in sampling something very different in life. You must first locate within your personal cupboards some of the following tools; necessity, desire, creativity and above all… resolve. In a large vessel (we got a little carried away and therefore suggest using a portion of your lawn) you begin by blending together only select heirloom ingredients.
These consist ofthe following items...
  • 2.3 tons of vintage barn beams
  • 1,071 pounds of old barn siding
  • 146 boards previously used as granary walls
  • several cups of rusty corrugated metal roofing
  • a handful of old windows
  • some slices of antique slate chalkboards
  • several quarts of sweat
  • a dash of (when is season) old wooden horse stall dividers
  • an occasional few choice words and pinches of whatever else you think may add a flavorful twist
  • (Note: This recipe need not be strictly adhered to and in fact the Davenports strongly recommend you experiment with your own special “secret ingredients”.)
  • When these are all thoroughly mixed in proper proportions, you next knead them together until the consistency allows you to form them into any shape you desire. (We elected something along the lines of a gingerbread house gone primitive.)
  • Once you have fashioned the mold into shape, you may then liberally sprinkle it with savory and time-tested herbs and spices like passion, love, warmth and for the finale add small dollops of colorful things from flowers to keepsakes.
  • Now comes the really hard part. You must be patient and allow it to slowly rise over a 14 month period (good stuff takes time!).  Then at last you are ready to sample and share your new creation with family, friends and new acquaintances.

We call our highly unusual but delectable offering the “Dancing Fox Cabin”.
So now that your interest has been peaked, you may ask, “What precisely is the Dancing Fox Cabin?”  The answer is, “The Dancing Fox cabin is ;
(1) a conceptualized version of a possible early Ohio settler’s cabin,
(2) a demonstration of repurposing and re-claiming on a grand scale (the entire structure is comprised of 95 % reclaimed materials),
(3) a rustic but very well-appointed accommodation for travelers for daily or extended stay habitation,
(4) named in tribute to a mythological Native American who was wise enough to understand his stewardship responsibilities to the land and its resources,
(5) an inspiration for others to emulate at whatever level their capacities, time and budget allow and
(6) one of the most unusual structures in Ohio.”

Although not nestled deeply in a forested sanctuary, the cabins north-central Ohio farmland location does appropriately lend itself to an early prairie cabin setting. When one first sees its exterior you will immediately understand you are viewing something truly different. The old rusty metal roofing protecting the porch which will serenade you when it’s raining, the rough-hewn porch posts stand like wizened old sentinels, a weathered whatnot cupboard lazily squatting on the porch and of course…a vintage barn door entry. These and other strong hints of uniqueness will beckon you and your curiosity to peer into its unknown interior. When you draw back that ol’ door and step across the threshold you will discover an uncompromising “wow” factor. As your eyes rove and dart around not knowing which area to feast upon first, you will eventually find items like a hand-made saw-buck dining table, distressed white-washed wood-clad walls, exposed beams, a queen-size log-framed bunk bed, a black bear rug wall hanging, a rustic pie safe, twelve 20-pane wavy glass windows, a shower lined with antique slate school house chalkboards , a rustic style wooden fireplace chimney and on and on it goes. The interior and its décor will undoubtedly sweep you back in time to a place of simple living, tranquil thoughts and an unapologetic opportunity to capture a few reflective moments for yourself. Those who enter this unique and calming environment express the peace, harmony and comfort they immediately sense.

New terms such as “green”, re-cycled, re-purposed, reclaimed and eco-friendly are more than mere “buzz words”. They are the vibrant sprouts of a whole new way of thinking and living. Slowly, but with growing momentum, our American “throw-a-way” mentality is being usurped by one of awareness, a genuine concern about our planet’s health and maximizing our hard-earned money. These new attitudes allows for creating something new, useable and meaningful from something old. These re-constituted items give a deeper personal gratification with learning and growth as a bonus. It is a profound win/win set of attitudes with far-ranging and thought-provoking horizons. In conclusion we are better off at so many levels. With this all in mind the Davenport’s embarked upon their second guest house quarters (Their first is the Harpster-Davenport Guest House also located on their property.)

Both Janell and Paul have, for the most part and even prior to meeting each other, led lives that weren’t necessarily encumbered within any particular long-term careers or avocations. Their unrestricted lifestyles meant a constant and constructive “re-creating” of one’s self and that is in itself is what re-purposing itself is! Therefore…Dancing Fox Cabin came about quite naturally for this couple. Janell’s background consists within the world of marketing, print shop ownership, world travel, expanding upon life’s many possible experiences, personal growth and seeking knowledge. She is also an accomplished pianist, problem solver and novice artist. She quickly establishes strong relationships with new acquaintances, loves attending and throwing parties, is great with color coordination and is also gifted at design displayed with a special flair in her own creating. She currently owns and operates http://www.ohiotraveldiscounts.com as well as http://www.ohiocoupons.com. Paul has an extensive background in the broad spectrum of construction, spent ten years as an antique architectural dealer (Heritage House Architectural Antiques), dabbled with custom design
wrought iron (Rembrandt Iron Designs), acts as copy writer for Janell’s businesses in addition to writing political telephone campaigns and has been published in a few newspapers. He once designed and built a Saltbox style house also incorporating some found items. Paul enjoys stimulating conversation, nature’s beauty, personal growth and most of all… his beautiful, intelligent and loving wife.

The Dancing Fox Cabin was a direct by-product idea spurned by their successful Harpster-Davenport Guest House which is housed in their 1842 Greek Revival, 3-brick thick farmhouse. (Note: Not to be confused with a B & B, a true guesthouse has its own niche and attributes such as; not having to get up at a specified time in the morning in order to get appropriately attired and then eat your morning’s specified breakfast as you attempt to chat with complete strangers. At a guesthouse you are afforded a well-provisioned kitchen from pots and pans and even to a wide array of spices which allows you to dine at any time of night or day of your choosing including those nasty little middle-of-the-night munchies (“Left overs anyone?”) all the while in the privacy of your own quarters! You will also have a more spacious home-style setting beyond just one room.) The Davenport’s two guest houses offer other attributes such as a 6-person hot tub, an old-world style pergola with loads of firewood, ample parking even for boats and a small barn if you need temporary storage. You may help yourself to the abundance from their small friendship vegetable garden. Paul and Janell take pride with security aspects, impeccable cleanliness as well offering special occasion services such as birthdays and wedding anniversary occasions and so forth. They also want you to know they have consigaire services, business traveler’s amenities and are a wealth of local information. Therefore the Harpster-Davenport Guest House’s success as well as the joy of meeting guests from around the country spurned them to evaluate the “possibilities” of another accommodation. With Paul’s capabilities within the framework of antiques, construction and design dovetailing with Janell’s own version of creativity, marketing skills and interior décor they took the proverbial plunge. So began the arduous and demanding but enjoyable processes of fulfilling yet another lifestyle vision. The immediate requirement was to begin locating vintage and antique building materials in large enough quantities and quality. That job fell primarily to Paul as his former Antiques business skills came into play (he had developed quite a nose for sniffing out “just the right thing at the right time”.). That process alone entailed three months of intensive searching and gathering for just the appropriate, vintage/antique materials and, if needed, their removal. Next was the exterior’s general design utilizing what salvaged materials were at last now on hand. Then the rough framing construction began in earnest (Note: the foundation itself is comprised is also of re-claimed materials… guard rail posts set into earthen holes). Once the
shell of the structure was “weathered in” the interior’s few walls were repeatedly discussed. Their positioning were mentally visualized from one end of the cabin to the opposite and then flip-flopped again until all logistics and ergonomics had been taken into consideration. The Davenports have created a log noting from where and whom they harvested the bevy of materials it took to completely construct their Dancing Fox Cabin.

Both the Dancing Fox Cabin and the Harpster-Davenport Guest House are conveniently located to all of central Lake Erie’s many attractions and northern-central Ohio in general. Among those are the famed fishing of Central Lake Erie’s basin and other water sports, Cedar Point Amusement Park, bird watching up and down the lake’s coast as well as a myriad of inland locations, wineries, shopping galore, historical venues and bicycle trails including one a mere ¼ mile north of the Davenports. They are within 10 minutes of Interstate 80/90, one hour of Cleveland and Toledo and only 2 hours from Columbus or Michigan’s southern border.

Paul and Janell strive to use eco-friendly items and fair-trade goods from around the world further enhancing the “green” concept. Their future agenda calls for installing wind-generated electricity, passive solar collectors and even a small greenhouse. All are, to some degree, throwback technologies from the past. Thus completes the circle of sustainable resource management in coordination with repurposing.

The Davenport’s end goals with their two guest homes are one of a financial means to an end, doing their small part in saving our planets finite resources, meeting new and interesting folks from around the country, showcasing the endless possibilities of re-purposing materials, allowing their talents and creativity to run rampant and…just for the pure fun of it!

“Harvesting the Past… a recipe for Today’s Living and Tomorrow’s Future”
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