Sometimes…

…Things don’t work out exactly as you’ve planned.
Remember this cute perky tent?  The one we were just days away from calling home?

TentHome

With a little strong wind and heavy rain, the tent now looks like this:
FloppedTent1 FloppedTent2

Yes, we are all safe.  No, we were not in the tent.  We had just climbed into our car to safely wait out the storm, and minutes later watched the tent crumble to the ground in a swirl of wind and rain.

Which means that our move to the land is postponed for a wee bit while we figure out the best solution.  Buy a new tent?  Quickly build a roofed tent platform?  Purchase an old RV or bus in which to sleep?

One thing is for sure about building a homestead.  It is anything but boring!

Have a wonderful weekend,
Teri

A Sneak Peek

Well, here we are, back from cake land, and once again firmly rooted in the reality of building a homestead.  Unfortunately, we have been rained out of our big moving day, which was supposed to be today. We will wait at the cozy town house until things dry up enough to move heavy furniture across wet ground.  While I’ve been sharing endless photos of cakes and decadent icing, we’ve actually been hard at work creating a rustic camping situation that will be comfortable enough to live with for three or four more months, or until we finish the house.

So here is a little sneak peek of our soon-to-be home!

Garden3

The garden is really coming along.  I still have peppers, basil, and some okra and onions to plant, but the main push to build a sheet mulch garden is over, and now I’m enjoying planting, sowing, and watering. OutdoorKitchen1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian has been shaping and building a beautiful outdoor kitchen, creating level spaces with urbanite and earth moving, and using some lovely black walnut wood that we had milled up in Oregon to create counters and cook tops.OutdoorKitchen2

 

This photo is a week or two old, and shelving and running water has since been added, but you can see the sink, counter space to the left, and the cookspace to the right.  The lower level will be the “pantry.”NewSofa

Moving slightly east to the living room!  That orange sofa was a total college move-out day score!  Free on the side of the road for the taking.  At first I gave Brian a “what are you, crazy?” sort of look, but I have to admit that it is comfortable and so useful for chilling out under the blue roof of the future house.

SunOven

The Sun Oven at work!  We will have a two burner Coleman white gas stove, a rocket stove, and this Sun Oven to cook with.  I hope for lots of sunny days, as the Sun Oven is SO cool.

TentHome

Tent, sweet Tent.  Our neighbors lent us this enormous tent in which to sleep and play.  The kids have loved spending time in there with their dolls and trucks; it’s relatively tick-free, cool, and spacious.

WaterHarvesting

And maybe the most important element of our camping situation: Water.  With this rain, we now have five 50 gallon barrels of water full to the tip top (and overflowing).  The barrels we purchased from Pepsi for $10 each.  They smell like Mountain Dew.  To filter, we will be using a Berkey Water Filter.

I look forward to sharing more in-depth information about each of these elements as we move to the land and get more intimate with these systems.  I know it will be a huge adjustment, but I’m really growing more and more excited to finally live on our land.

 

Preparing

Making the best of a very cold, rainy day last week, Brian traveled with truck and trailer across the state line to Illinois to a large building supply warehouse.  He went with lists, measurements, and a vision, and came back with ten windows and two doors for our small cottage.

HomesteadLife2

In the building process, as in all areas of life, nothing seems to go as expected.  In our case, the building we had originally planned to be a non-insulated “Summer Shanty,” is now shaping up to be an 18 x 20 foot insulated house. This decision was born of our desire to avoid moving out of a non-insulated structure next winter to find a warm place to live. As we fell more in love with the land, we realized we just did not want to have to leave! So all four of us will live VERY cozily in this tiny house for the next few years as we build our dream timber-framed strawbale home.

As a result of this change in direction, this summer we will be camping on our land.  Brian has been busy as ever creating systems that will facilitate our comfort as we live in a tent.  A water catchment system is in place, and three 50 gallon barrels await the next heavy rain.

HomesteadLife1

A tent platform is in progress…HomesteadLife3

…and our neighbors have generously loaned us their enormous nine person tent, which we will erect tomorrow.

And so we prepare for the not-so-faraway day that we will leave this cozy, well appointed home in the “city,” and move to our rustic tent in the country.  And while I’m so excited to finally live on our land, a part of me is slightly terrified, wondering how in the world I will live with no electricity, no washing machine, no running water, no refrigerator, no internet service, and only a sporadically working cell phone.  I guess this is what chasing our dreams will look like for a few months.

* This post was shared on The Backyard Farming Connection
and The Homestead Barn Hop.

Taking Stock

Some days, it’s a very good idea to take stock.  It’s easy to think about how much has NOT gotten accomplished, or to stress about the very long list of things-to-do.  But when I really look back and realize that just in the past two weeks, we’ve gone from this…

Progress2

To this…Cabin4

To this…Cabin7

And from this…SheetMulch3

To this…

Progress3

And this…

Progress4

It all feels really darn good.

(The above photo is a newly planted bed of perennial flowers, herbs, and fruiting shrubs that got dug up in Oregon, moved cross country, heeled into top soil over the winter, and now planted on the land. We’ll see which ones make it!)

Wishing you a wonderful weekend, taking stock of what is truly good about life right now.

What’s Growing

Robins on branches, 70 degree days followed by snow, dirt under my fingernails – Spring is coming!

There is so much preparation, planning, and doing these days.  I finally got around to placing my fruit tree order after spending days agonizing over which varieties and limiting myself to only 20 trees and a few bushes (I ordered from One Green World and St. Lawrence Nurseries).  Some of the highlights are “Arkansas Black” Apple (a fantastic keeper), “Olympic” and “Nijiseiki” Asian Pears, and “Meteor” and “Bali” Sour Pie Cherries.  While I wait for their delivery, I’m reading all I can about fruit tree planting and care (this book has been particularly helpful), and setting out stakes for their placement.

While I have not yet ventured out to the raised beds to direct sow anything, I have started some spring crops on my heat mat, including a wide variety of kale, onions, broccoli, cabbage, and greens.

Seedlings

They are still so tiny!

Most importantly, we’re growing a home!  The summer structure is taking shape slowly but surely.  All nine posts are in the ground, all six beams have been secured, and tomorrow the roof rafters will be put into place.  It’s possible that we’ll have a roof by the end of next week!

Post and Beams

As the structure emerges and our visions for the land take shape, we’re realizing how badly we want to live there.  Although our original intention was to build a non-insulated space for summer use and then figure out another living situation for next winter, now we find ourselves having conversations that start with the words, “how rustic are you willing to live?” or “200 square feet is enough space for our family of four, right?”  It could be completely crazy, but I think we’re both so eager to sink into that space that seemingly impossible situations are now looking somewhat possible.

Teri on ladder

Wishing you a beautiful Monday full of impossible possibilities!

* This post was shared on the Homestead Barn Hop, and Natural Living Monday.

Breaking Ground

Hello!  Thank you all for the kind words of support after my grandmother’s passing. I was able to spend the weekend with my extended family on the East coast to celebrate her life, and especially to remember her legacy of four children and over 30 grand and great-grandchildren!

Upon our return we hit the ground running with the myriad building details for the “Summer Shanty” (or as a friend suggested, the Summer Cottage – sounds so New England!).  The Shanty will be a 20 x 20 foot uninsulated wooden structure.  Half the structure will be enclosed and screened for a sleeping and living space.  The other half will remain open-sided and will function as an outdoor kitchen, storage and living space. (And when I say outdoor kitchen, I mean a very different thing than what the Sunset or Martha Stewart books mean when they talk about an Outdoor Kitchen!  Imagine a wood-fired cookstove, rather than stainless steel!)

We had already spent some time removing trees, brush, and poison ivy from the Shanty site, and with a little help from a generous neighbor with a tractor, we were able to break ground!  Nine post holes will contain 5 x 5 inch white oak posts, milled by the local Amish mill.  And these posts will hold up the structure, or at least that’s how I understand it!  To say that I am not the builder in our family would be an understatement!

Hole1 Hole2Woodpile1

The woodpile grows!  Ev and I are sitting on the white oak posts, Ella is resting on the red oak beams and floor joists. Next step is to put these posts into the ground!

Woodpile2

Photos don’t quite do the Shanty site justice, but it’s to the left of where I am standing in the photo above.  The living space will extend into the forest a bit, and the outdoor kitchen space will nestle into the northern treeline.

While letting my mind wander yesterday, I was suddenly struck with a feeling of pure joy.  Here we are, doing what we’ve dreamed about for so many years: building our own home (shanty) on our own land.  We have so far to go, but it feels so exciting to be working hard to make this dream a reality.

Welcome!

Driveway2

Come on over!  Drive on up!  Because now, you see, we have a driveway!!  A sweet, curvy, meandering driveway that takes in the beautiful northwest views and the oak forest.  It is lovely, and it is finished.  Let the building begin!!

And I’m happy to announce that the winner of the Radical Homemakers book giveaway is Julia!  Congratulations Julia!  Thank you to everyone who said hello!

Enjoy your weekend!