Riding the wave of accomplishment…

We had about 24 hours at the homestead this week and it was great!  Dad drove in for the night and instead of cramming in as much work as possible in that time, we actually built a fire and relaxed around it.  The first thing we did upon arrival was check to see if the cabin was dry inside. It was. At that moment, the list I had composed in my head for what I wanted to accomplish that day flew right out of the holes that are going to have a window in them one day (soon).   We are fully aware that building walls and installing the windows and door are a priority, but we also feel like we can take our time a bit on the next steps and we have such a tight schedule sometimes, so it was wonderful to take a day to cook and just hang out. Those moments are precisely the reason we are doing this for so I am happy with myself for taking it in.

Dad, hiking back to the cabin.

Ok, so I did a little work.  I swept some of the nails and dust up in the cabin since the last time we were there it was more of a wet mud than dry dirt.  We laid out an indoor/outdoor mat and laid out the guest mattress for its inaugural sleep.

Perriee and I made a fire in the tipi, then we made some grilled cheese and tomato soup on the stove.  That took a while, so while lunch cooked, we made the outdoor fire. Once lunch was done, I started dinner, because you know, cast iron cooking can be slow.  I mixed meatloaf and cooked potatoes and sipped on beer while Perriee kept the fire going.

Dad and I fixed some Tyvek wrap on the front wall since it was flapping a little too much in the breeze.  That stuff is so loud! We were worried it would keep him up, but it took no time to tack it down with the stapler.  After dinner, we relaxed again. It eventually started to rain, so we took our chairs into the cabin and sat for a bit to listen to the rain.  It was a perfect moment. Perriee and I eventually went to the tipi and had a great night’s rest with a peaceful mind and body. We did not break our backs that day.  

We had breakfast in the morning and dad hit the road.  I shook out some zinnia seeds around the tipi and we packed up and left to spend Mother’s Day with Ms.Gwen.  My only critique about the weekend was that it went too fast. We will be back in a week or so to work on those walls.  In the meantime, it will have to do.

Homework: Give yourself a break.  

I am guilty of sticking to deadlines and working my hardest to get a job done.  Perriee and I have consistently worked on something almost every time we go to the farm, whether it be clearing out some honeysuckle or taking the next step in our homestead build.  I tend to have guilt if we go there without a plan. Perriee is so supportive in my restlessness. We have got a lot accomplished in the two years since we have been working on things but we have admittedly spent little time relaxing there.  

My feelings to move forward so hard and fast with the cabin are partly related to my drive to move into our “early retirement” stage of life.  We want to spend time together now, not in twenty years. When we move into this phase, it will not be to do nothing, but to do something meaningful and fulfilling all day, every day, together.  The things we are able to do accomplish in the time we have together now is amazing. I can’t wait to see what we will do when we have even more time together.

Give yourself a break.  We can all be our toughest boss and you can push yourself into endless overtime, whether it be from your full time job or your hobbies, or your long term goals.  Make sure you are fitting in the time to spend with those who mean the most. I can’t remember the last time dad and I had that much quiet time together. It was something I will remember forever.  I feel like a broken record saying this, but it is worth repeating: you only get one life. Spend it wisely. We did last weekend, hanging out with dad.

Smoke Flap Mouse Nest

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.  

Homework

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.  

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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.

Homework

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

Soggy and Successful Saturday!

Cabin Corner

Water in the hole!
Water in the hole!

It is January and it should be cold.  It has not been cold and we knew we needed to take advantage of the weather to get the piers for the a-frame poured before it turned.  Even though it was warm, it has rained a lot and there was a significant amount of water in those holes, which if frozen, would prevent us from putting concrete into them until a thaw.

 

The morning Perriee and I were getting ready to go to pour the piers, before we left the city house, I declared that I did not think we would be able to complete it.  There was still so much prep work to complete and I was sure we were going to run out of time. We had to dip the water out of the holes, re-cut the new concrete tubes, cut the wire to fit into the holes and get the concrete bags to the site- all before one drop of concrete went into a hole.  

I could not have been more wrong.  My brother met us there in the morning and we got rolling.  I love it when he comes out for so many reasons, but a big one is because when he says he is coming in the morning, it forces us to get up and moving in order to be ready when he is.  When you have help, you don’t make them wait! By the time he left the cabin site that evening, we had poured 6 of the 9 piers. Perriee hauled over 2000 pounds of concrete down to our spot between the two days, 1600 at least on the one day.  Elaine popped in to haul a couple of loads of concrete and gravel with her during the day and I was able to tag team a couple of trips, but I honestly don’t know how she did it. The mud was thick, the path was long, and the cart had two wheels.  The bags were 80 pounds a piece. She is amazing.

 

While Perriee moved the concrete and gravel, my brother worked the piers.  We had to first mix concrete in the holes where there was still some remaining water.  We carefully dumped the dry mix into the holes and churned it like butter with a piece of wood.  After the holes were filled, we leveled the tube on top of it, packed gravel around the base, and filled the tubes with mixed concrete after fitting the rebar and wire inside of them. He lifted and shoveled and mixed and scooped and leveled all of the heavy stuff.   By the time we finished our last pier for the night we were exhausted. Perriee and I made some delicious wraps in the tipi and went to bed. It was a solid 12 hour day and despite our fatigue, we were pretty darn proud of ourselves.

 

The next morning, Perriee and I finished the last two piers.  To be efficient, we hauled the rest of the concrete bags down before we started and ended up with three left over. We then had the privilege of hauling  them back up the hill.  We got our money back for those bags that very day. If I know anything about concrete, it is how they get heavier when they soak up a bunch of moisture from sitting around doing nothing.  I was not going to risk that. It was evening before we we made it home to the city, but again, we were tired yet accomplished. It was exactly one of those weekends where we felt we were living life to the fullest.  

So tired!
We poured the 7th pier by Biolite!

Next steps?

The next steps will be to cut the 6 x 6 posts which will serve as the connecting points for the beams and attach the 2 x 8’s to them.   I feel good about it and am looking forward to putting the next supply order together.  We pretty much have enough to attach the 2 x 8’s except for the hardware needed to attach them.  The next order is going to be composed of the sub-floor materials.  

 

Thank you brother!  Thank you so very much for rocking out this foundation project with us. We.  Did. It. Concrete. Bags. Are. Heavy.

Homework

Ride the wave of victory.  I want to hang on to this moment for as long as possible.  It will be a couple of weeks until we get back out there to work on the next steps.  In the meantime we will bask in our win and you should bask in your wins too!  

Tipi entryway
We threw down some gravel and mulch to help with the doorway. She sure is looking green these days!

Winter Solstice 2018

Worry not friends, the days are once again getting longer. See how fast that was? The spring flowers will be peeking out of the cold soil before you know it. Celebrate! That’s what we did.  We had a beautiful solstice meal with our farm family and friends and celebrated by the fire under the full moon light.

Last year we spent the weekend happily sequestered in the tipi with the kitties.  Tux was getting medicine for his ear, so we took them with us.  Since there is no real door in the tipi, we were sort of tasked to keeping them inside for the weekend.  The last morning we were there, there was a swarm of birds circling the tipi taunting Mittens and Tux from outside.   It was beautiful.  I think this was the weekend we realized how much we needed a door.  Fast-forward to today.

Cabin Corner

A friend came out and graciously helped us finish digging our holes.  THANK YOU!  The gravel ended up being delivered directly to our area by the gravel guy.  I found out from him that we live in the middle of the hill, by the way.  This delivery was a bit of a Christmas miracle and saved us some heavy moving that we would have otherwise had to do to get the gravel down there from the metal barn.  Thank you sir! He happened to live in the neighborhood so it was nice to make that connection.  We saved his number in case we need another “Bobcat” kind of job done.

The order for the foundation materials has been submitted and is now scheduled to be delivered on New Years Eve.  I think it is safe to say that we are pretty excited about this.

Gadget Corner

The Biolite camp stove is going back.  A second opinion confirmed that the device, although smart in function (it charges a battery with heat), takes too much attention to keep it going.  We may instead save for something like the Yeti, Goal Zero.  It has a place to plug-in small electronics.  This will suit us better than charging a phone with a small fire.

Homework

Trust in the universe sometimes.  Every once in a while it will come through.  I almost called the gravel guy to cancel the delivery because I thought it would be too much trouble for him to get it to us.  With some patience, we ended up faring better than originally planned.  We will take every win we can get and you should too.