Tucked away in the backwoods of Guernsey County near the village of Birmingham sits a small cabin dating back to the 1830s. An area couple recently purchased the property and has worked diligently to restore it to its splendor of an era gone by.
Jim and Judy Howald bought the property last February. Since that time, they have put nearly everything new into the cabin that was more ready for demolition than restoration — from new floors, walls and ceilings, to an addition to get to one of the bedrooms that was only accessible from the outside. Since no electricity is near, she created a unique box above each ceiling light to conceal batteries to power the hanging lights. Judy also built several pieces of furniture for the interior, including a hutch and dining room table.
Once the interior projects were complete, Judy said she knew it was time to start on the outside. The old porch, she said, just didn’t get it with the restored cabin. She threw around a number of ideas before deciding to turn the porch into a wagon of sorts. She added metal wagon wheels, a wagon double seat, and a hitch for horses. These all came from several Amish families who are friends with the Howalds.
After seeing the wagon porch, Judy knew she needed something else to finish it off. That’s when she came up with the idea of creating life-size horses. She thought about making them from corn shocks as she had seen before, but thought the lifespan of them would be just too short. After some thought, grapevines came to mind. So she and Jim headed into the area forest to find grapevines — lots of them. Jim said he would pull them from the trees and Judy would would use the shears to cut them.
"Each time she cut one as I was pulling on it, I landed backwards on my butt," Jim said humorously.
They worked for some time to gather enough to cover the large horses she had planned. The next step for her was to create a solid frame, which she did from wood and chicken wire. She worked for weeks covering the horses meticulously to get the look she was going after.
The "pulling team," named Jack and Jill, turned out as planned and are now decorated for the holidays. The restored cabin, which is a second home for the Howalds, will be used this Christmas as they plan to celebrate the holiday there with family and friends.