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.

Birthday Weekend 2018

Cabin Corner:

Four tons of gravel is scheduled to be delivered to the homestead this week.  The man I spoke with about the delivery really made me realize how much I need to learn the lingo in the area about where we live.  “You are over there on top of the hill, right?”, he said. “Uhhh…I think so?” “Are you close to the fire department?” , he asked.  “Ummm, I am not really sure”, I replied. “My mother lives over that way, I’ll find you.” There were a couple of more exchanges about where he thought we lived at, then we started talking about payment.  All cash or check. No problem, except for the fact that I did not know if Elaine and Matt would be able to give him money at the time of delivery.   He was not at all concerned and was completely comfortable just having us pay him over the weekend.  People over there are just so very kind. It is so refreshing.

In addition to the gravel order, I have loaded up a cart on and am hoping for an easy truck delivery to the farm.  Since we are getting a truck full of bags of concrete, we went ahead and threw in about 40 bags of mulch in order to touch up the Tipi Trail when we’re done trashing it with our equipment.  We also added 200 feet of garden hose that should reach us at the bottom of the trail in order to avoid the need for hauling water down to our spot.  This will also serve as a life-saver once we move in.  We will use the access to water for both the ducks and some gardening, not to mention for basic teeth brushing and dish washing.  I can’t wait.

All of the holes are dug and currently sitting at a two foot depth.  We decided to go ahead and continue digging down to three feet this weekend, before adding the gravel.  Three is definitely the magic number in this case.  That is the frost line level in our area and we might as well go with it.  The post hole diggers made a 9 inch diameter hole and we will top them off with a 12 inch sonotube pour for a bit of extra stability above ground.  From there, we will add a 6×6 post to the top of the footer and build up. Not sure how exactly yet, but one step at a time, right? We have some ideas of how we want to do it based on a combo of advice and YouTube videos.

Cast Iron Cooking Corner:

I made the best oatmeal for breakfast on Sunday morning.  It was full of apple, walnuts, cinnamon, butter and brown sugar.  Delicious. It took forever because we let the fire go out overnight on Saturday since it was actually pretty warm in the tipi. I did not even think about firing up the propane stove until it was almost done.  Next time!

Gadget Corner:

We left the Biolite Campstove with Matt for the week to see what he thinks about it.  In the absence of excitement, we may return it and put the money we spent towards a different solar package with a little more power.  


Don’t be afraid to make your own recipe.

My homemade spaghetti sauce is a hybrid of the influence of many different sauce makers in my life.  I add the carrots from one person, the Worcestershire from another, and the meat from someone else.  Why can’t the cabin design be similar?  I am pretty sure our cabin is going to be a big combo of our advisors input as well as the internet research we have done  on the internet and other places. Ask your questions, get your answers, then make your own decisions.  It is ok to try out your ideas.  Make it your recipe.  


Decisions, Decisions

***Be sure to check out our new page when you are done: Philanthropy Corner ***

This cabin is going to essentially be our dream home.  It will be a 14×14 dream home. You could also potentially refer to it as a 14×14 dream bedroom. Because of this, we really do want it to be done right.  Right?

We made it to our spot on Sunday for a few hours in order to mark out the perimeter of the cabin.  Simple, right? Our goal was to mark it out with the square corners measured out so we stopped at our favorite Lowes in Lawrenceburg , Indiana to get some bright pink twine and a couple of more pieces of rebar to temporarily use as corner markers.  

The 3-4-5 method is what we found to be the easiest way to do this, so we began.  And we continued. And then, Matt came down to say, “hi”, at the very moment that we were slipping down into the abyss of frustration.  He so graciously helped us mark our corners and our 14ft perimeter. It looks amazing.

Our neighbor will be looking after #lotsaflocka for the next three weekends and the plan is  to have the foundation piers poured by the weekend of the 14th, my birthday weekend.  I may have mentioned this before, but we hauled a load of gravel for Perriee’s birthday two years ago, so fair is fair that we embark on some other crazy project for mine.

How crazy could this get though?  Let me help you with that answer. Pretty crazy. In advance, I ask you to see this revaluation of this project as a near miss, as opposed to a preemptive surrender. In a few days, Perriee and I can celebrate having met ten years ago.  We have seen some things together and by now, have a pretty good idea of the things we can accomplish together. We also know what our limitations are.  Can we drill and pour this foundation? Absolutely. Should we? Not sure. If we could just give it a go and see how it goes, it would be amazing. What we will be doing is getting the foundation of our home together for the rest of our lives.  

What if we rent the auger and don’t get it done in time?  What if we order concrete already mixed and don’t get the holes drilled in time (see, previous what if).  If we don’t get the concrete pre-mixed, we need to mix it and take it down one wheelbarrow at a time to our spot.  You could say this is making me nervous.  It is making us both nervous.

Here is a quick estimate of the costs we are looking at:

Bobcat rental (auger): $800.00

Sono tubes (3, 24”x 12 ft): $400.00

Concrete that will need to be mixed: $500.00

Rebar: $50.00

Braces for the beams: $100.00

Our current total is already pushing about $2000.  I already know that we will either struggle with the machinery and not finish in time OR get it done so quickly that we will be sad we rented it for the amount that we paid.  The concrete? Heavy.  Let’s see who does this for a living and get an estimate.  We decided to at least see what we are missing out on here. This route might save us some emotions and help the economy at the same time.  We aren’t going to finance it, so we think that it is fair to put food on someone else’s table in the process.

We have called a few places and received a couple of, “I’m sorry, we don’t do that”s already.  I will be sure to report back on any updates. In the meantime, I have found myself rethinking the cabin altogether and looking at tiny house trailers (around $4,000 for one specifically made for a home) or even yurts.  I was quickly reminded that a nice yurt costs about 10k AND you have to build the deck to put it on.  Sigh.


Tell yourself it is going to be OK and try to believe it.  That is what I am going to do anyhow.

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright