It is just a big puzzle.

Except for the fancy cuts on the ends of all of the roof rafters, we have prepped all of the framing lumber and have it organized for “Barn Raising” day.  Overall,everything came out exactly as planned. There are a couple of small things that we will be re-cutting, which we decided to do after sitting on it for a minute at the city house.  

The 5 foot pieces of the sill plate actually need to be 5 foot and ¼ and the door header came out ½ inch too short so we will try that one more time as well.  We ended up with enough 2x6x8s left over to redo them. Everything else is beautiful.  It is all separated out into sections and just needs to be put together like a gigantic puzzle.  

We stopped at Lowes on the way out and got a business account set up with them. They were so awesome about the whole thing and even suggested it to begin with.  It saves about 40 dollars per truck delivery and they are always willing to help you find ways to save some more money where they can. The women at the counter really made us feel special. I don’t care if they got a commission on our account. I hope they did.  It kind of felt like a women helping women moment. While we were there, we looked at windows and bought enough hardware to tie our floor tight enough to the beams to withstand a hurricane (ok, some people call them hurricane straps, hence the reference, but it still better do the job).  We will put those on next weekend.

The family who lives on the property was out of town for the night so Perriee and I were the only people there.  While working in the barn during the rainstorm because it was raining in the tipi Perriee noticed someone was pulling up the driveway. It was an interesting situation.  I walked out while Perriee sort of hung back behind the barn door. She is black, I am white. We are married. As I walked out, I quickly came to find out that it was one of the neighbors, who explained that she came up to make sure the chickens were cared for since the weather was getting bad and she knew our friends were out of town.   We know that the other family who lives there knows the neighbors. They have told us repeatedly how friendly the neighbors are. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and called out that it was Perriee who was in the barn. I did not force her to come out and say hello, nor did I introduce her as my spouse. We still live in the shadows. We are careful.  

Speaking of feeling awkward in the world, last weekend, we helped hang signs up for our friends’ dog who ran off and did not come back.   Wilbur lives there at the farm and he is old and needed to be back home at the farm to lay in his old-man- chair.  He was thankfully returned to home, a couple of days later.  We wanted to help bring him back, but to do so safely, Perriee stayed in the car, while I jumped out to hang up the signs in the surrounding area.  It was all an avoidance act, but it works.  We do whatever possible to fly under the radar.  

We want to believe everyone is cool.  We want to believe everyone is accepting.  We don’t let our reservations prevent us from interacting with the wonderful people we have met out there up until now, but we are still careful.  We operate from a unique perspective in the country and I think that is the best way to go. In spite of all of our optimism, we are also realistic and know that some people are not so open and accepting, and you feel extra vulnerable where the population is a bit thinner and there are less people around.  We would think carefully about taking the ride up a neighbor’s driveway, unannounced, and I could bet that Perriee would likely never do it alone, could she help it at all.

In the city, we are comfortable.  We know our neighbors and have a family-like relationship with many of them.  The trust on the city street is reciprocal and comfortable. I will remain hopeful that we can have that in the country too, but if it does not happen we know what we can fall back on what we have at our city house.  


Be kind to one another. Try to remember that everyone does not navigate through the world like you do.  Believe people when they tell you that there are places that they are, “not allowed” to go.  They know.  If they are alive telling you, their acts of self-preservation are working well.  Be willing to experience people and places that are unfamiliar to you. That is the only way to normalize the unknown and break down our differences among one another.  


P.S.  Our cover photo was taken on the side of the tipi on Saturday.

Rejoist! We have a floor!

Cabin Corner

There is a visible floor and it is flawed and beautiful, just like everything that is good in life. The floor joists themselves are nestled within a perfect square, but as we have already mourned and now rejoist, I mean, rejoice, the support beams are slightly outside of the perimeter. It is just one of those things that we now understand and would never do incorrectly again.

For all of you rookie framers, Perriee and I had a great lesson regarding our measurements of the floor joists. Some of you might say, “DUH”, and some of you will think, “Huh, I’ve never thought about that!” Although the plans called for 14 ft lumber to construct the joists, we ultimately realized that to make a 14 foot square, those joists are actually required to be 13 feet and 9 inches long. You know why? To make a square. Why wouldn’t they be 13 feet and 8 inches long, since the boards we used are called 2x8x14s? I’ll tell you why! Because when someone tells you lumber is 2 inches wide, it is probably 1.5 inches wide. Sneaky contractors want to keep us armatures out of their lane!

Carriage bolts: We ended up stopping for 9 more and put two bolts per post. We took two lag bolts out of one side and used those holes for the carriage bolts and left the lag bolts on the other side, where they were originally. It feels good and solid.

Since this weekend has passed, I have been looking deep into our plans, calculating lumber for the loft and bathroom on the INSIDE of the cabin. We had another consult with neighbor Mark to iron out and clarify our framing steps and we are committing to a save the date weekend and have extended the invitation to a couple of people who have expressed interest in helping with the “Barn Raising”.

Floor joists

A year ago when we looked at the plans for this, I seriously did not know if we could hack it. Now we surprise ourselves about the things we understand.

Life in the City

On the city home front we have started some seeds in the house and planted some things outside in our new raised beds. Spring is coming. The earth is getting ready to exhale a big warm breath of new life. Bring it on.


Don’t stop asking questions.

I am quite sure that I am a slow learner. In order for me to retain something, I often need things explained to me several times. I like to write things down.  Sometimes I like to watch someone demonstrate something, then have them direct me to do it, step-by-step.  One thing is for certain though, once I learn something, I know it.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even if you feel like you are being bothersome (who cares?). This might be due to my cisgender, female brain, and I will try to fight it, every step of the way. A quick Google search returned the following link, so no, I don’t think I’m making this up: Women Ask Fewer Questions Than Men

I keep telling myself it is just a big bedroom…

The ridge board has landed and it is spectacular.  The 2x14x16 is a freshly cut piece of Indiana Poplar that was purchased from Wilhelm Sawmill in Brookville, Indiana.  They were a pleasure to work with. While discussing the purchase, they also informed us that the Indiana Poplar is the state tree!  Who knew? We all do now.

Our big lumber delivery happened and we had some time to cut down all of the 16 ft boards for the floor joist construction.  We hope to get the joists screwed together this upcoming weekend. It was so awesome to see our order in real life as opposed to the virtual shopping cart I have been staring at for the past month.  

We have discovered a couple of things we need to consider which we will review with someone before moving forward.  

Things we have consulted on:

Screwing in carriage bolts: use old holes or make new ones? We had a five-minute meeting with our neighbor, Home Improvement style, over the fence line.  It was a meeting that would’ve put Corporate America to shame with the amount of information that we covered in such a short period of time.  We are going to make one new hole for each post  and put the carriage bolt through. We are going to leave the lag bolts where they are currently.  

Our ridge board might be ½  inch too thick (it is) than what the plans called for!!  Do we need to make adjustments in how we cut our rafters?  Will the supports be strong enough with the 2×6? Should we use a 2×8 instead?  Should we order another one? The directions on the plans called for a 2×14”x16 ft but the supports for the beam calls for an inch and a half-inch opening.  I am now assuming that the board, although special ordered, would be the standard size for a two-inch width which is one and a half inches.  Per our sensei, we can still use the big beauty that we have and he will adjust the support piece to accommodate the extra half-inch.  He does not think this will at all affect how our rafters fit.

Laying out the boards for size...
We laid out the square of the floor to see how it looked.

If we could only do this again it would be damn near perfect.  Maybe we can start our own 14×14 construction consulting business after we get this sucker up.  If we can do it, you can too!

In the city we are working on re-homing the sweetest kitty ever in addition to our dealing with our ongoing saga of egg delivery.  Poor Dayz is still having trouble laying her eggs. We are really working to get her an implant to suppress her egg production. Fingers crossed we can get that on board this week or next.  She is one tough duck.

Workin’ on the Country House while Lovin’ on the City House

Even though we didn’t make it to the cabin spot this week, we feel super accomplished! I placed the order for the next round of building materials.   Here are the next steps:

  • Cut the 16 foot 2x8s to 14 feet
  • Construct the entire floor and cover it with a 16×14 foot tarp.  
  • Cut the wall lumber for the front and back walls
  • Cut the roof rafters (angle at the top and notch at the bottom)
  • Order the 2x14x16 foot ridge board (special order, special delivery)-DONE!
  • Purchase a nail gun-DONE! 
Our ridge board.

We met with our neighbor and he broke down the roof installation process for us as well as some of the finishing work that we had previously not thought of.  

To instal the metal roof, we need to attach 2×4 nailer boards to the rafters which we will attach the roofing material to.  We talked about the gap needed at the top to attach the ridge cap to as well as the types of screws and nails we will need for the framing and roof.  Come to think of it, i need to get the shopping cart loaded with these materials now. These all need to be onsite in order to get framed. Our new framing date is tentatively set for the weekend of the 22nd of March.

What are we working on at the city house?  We are currently listed on Airbnb (View On AirbnbLabbato’s on the Knob

“>Labbato’s on the Knob, Newport, KY)

and are ready to step it up a little bit.  Up until this week, we have offered a full size bed in a cozy room, along with a private bath, mini fridge, and microwave.  This week we swapped in our newer queen sized mattress from the full size to offer our guests something a bit more than we have in the past.  We also rearranged the rooms so the bedroom is now in a the largest of the rooms and finished the transition between the bathroom and the hallway.  The last thing left to do is to put up a chain lock on the bedroom door.


The new pictures I posted, as shown here as well, are not my favorite, but we are trying to get some new professional pictures done from Airbnb.   We think it looks pretty good though. My brother and his girlfriend are coming in from Cleveland to try out the new set-up this weekend and we have a friend coming to visit her mom the week after.  We will be sure to get some feedback from them about anything we might not have thought of.


Keep downsizing.  

Through our rearranging process, we continued to take some things out of the house that we were not using any longer.  It is not a one-and-done process. Every few months it is good to reevaluate one piece of the house and let go of the old and unwanted things that someone else may find to be useful.  There really is nothing more satisfying than looking at a freshly emptied spot. Don’t worry, you will inevitably replace some things, but you won’t feel smothered by it all like you could if you let it all pile up.  

Prepping for the Sub-floor

The past few weeks have been busy but we have still been able to carve out some time to work on the cabin.  At this point, all of the beams and posts are bolted into place. We have an extra 6×6 which we may cut into fourths and wedge in between the beams for some extra support since the sub-floor may or may not sit perfectly on them.  Ok- it won’t sit on it perfectly, we already figured that out, so why not add some extra support on the front end if it is easy enough and we have the materials? The next step is to place an order for the sub-floor materials and some bungee cords to hold a tarp on it when we are done with it.  We already have the 16×20 tarp waiting in the tipi to be put to use.

The Lowe’s cart is loaded up with enough materials to get the frame up, almost through the roof.  We need to decide whether or not to order all of it now, or split it up into sub-floor vs frame which might give us some more time to get the framing order together.

Here is what is in the current cart:

13, 2x8x16’s for the floor frame and joists.  We will cut those to 14 feet.

4, 2x6x14’s and 7, 4×8 pieces of tongue and groove sub-floor for the sub-floor

4 corner braces for our perfect 14×14 floor frame that we will construct on top of the beams

Hopefully, 17 pieces of metal is enough roof.  The roof is still in the “researching materials” phase.  

28, 2x6x8’s for the frame

30, 2x6x16’s for the roof rafters

7 packs of  R-30 Rock Wool Batt insulation for the floor

A few more bolts for the beams so we can attach the extra 6×6 within the outside beams (both sizes #69527 (bigger ones?) and #63357).

Here are the things I know we need:

Tyvek wrap for under the floor and maybe for the outer walls

Bungee cords

Tyvek tape

Screws for the sub-floor.  We are getting nails for the rest of the frame. We think we are renting a nail gun at this point.

Staples (we can borrow the stapler from Milton (well, Mike, but who can’t get into an Office Space reference?).

Ice and Water something or other for under the metal roof.

Safety harness

Liquid nail for under the sub-floor

Here are things I think we need:

Flashing for the roof

Some kind of screws for the roof

Other things…

We are heading to our neighbor-consultant’s house this week to go over the list and shore it up a bit.  This sub-floor project is going to be fun!


Make your list and check it twice!  It will be so nice to have another set of eyes to look at our materials list.  Of course we will have to take another trip to the store for something. Don’t you always?  To ensure, however,  that everything that must be delivered by truck is included will be key since our Honda Fit can only hold so much.   We have pushed that poor car enough.  

Here…enjoy an amazing glass of Perriee’s pineapple-mango home-brewed kombucha.  That carbonation is beautiful.img_3586