Category Archives: Homesteading

Breaking Ground

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Today our neighbor Don (who is in the running for best neighbor ever, as you will see) came by to return our shovel. And he also brought over his backhoe for us to borrow. (See? Best neighbor.)
One of the things we have been loving about our new home is the friendly, helpful, interseting people. We’ve made so many good friends, and all our neighbors are awesome.
We also love the view, the smells, the blossoms, and even our road. We love the weather, and even the humidity. (Take that, Colorado.)We daily thank our wonderful God for bringing us here, we consider it our Promised Land.

One of the things we are not loving so much is that we don’t actually have a home yet. That’s where the backhoe comes in.

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We gleefully watched Don’s progress down the road. He gave Adam few pointers on running the machine, and left us to it. Adam wasted no time.

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He drove it around the trailer into the area where we are planning the house.

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It didn’t take long for him to get the hang of the controls.

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This is the face of a man driving a big machine.

The face of a man Working on his own land.

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Winter Peace

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I wrote this in March, and just now got a chance to post it. So, a bit out of date, but it let’s you know what we’re up to.

So here we are, settled into our little trailer. This morning it was cold, but not freezing. Freezing mornings are an invigorating (read: character-building) part of living in a place with no insulation in the floor. At bedtime, I always make sure my slippers are in easy reach. I wrap up and get the fire and the coffee started. Then I sit in my blankie and read while I wait for it to warm up. It warms up pretty quickly- the main part of the house is only 8’x12′.

Most mornings I whip up fried eggs or oatmeal, but it was Saturday, so I made pancakes. Cooking is one of my favorite pastimes, even on a tiny propane stove. I have four burners, but they seem redundant, since I can only fit pans on two at a time. After pancakes and coffee, over which we discussed the Bible and Physics, Adam and I put on our boots and ear warmers and head outside. We tromped up the hill to the spot we’ve been cutting trees. (This has become the dogs’ new favorite word, “tromping”. It’s gotten so we have to be careful saying it- they jump all over the place in their excitement, and there isn’t much room to jump inside the trailer.)

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We’re planning on using roundwood for the frame of the house, so there are a lot of trees to be cut. And we have a lot of trees to choose from. Cutting enough 4″ oaks for all the rafters and floor joists will barely make a dent in our woods. They’ve not been tended in many years, and the oaks have flourished, growing straight and tall. Which is exactly what is needed for housebuilding. I use the pullsaw to fell the trees, and Adam lops off all the branches once they’re down. And he also carries them up the hill to the place we’ve piled them to dry. We’ll cut the big trees needed for pillars with the chainsaw, but we’re proud that we’ve cut so many by hand. It gives a sense of peaceful accomplishment. After a couple of hours, a freezing rain started to fall. We packed up our things, stacked the last tree, and headed back down the hill. On the way,we picked up flint pieces to be used eventually in tiling the shower. If we pick up a few every day, we’ll have more than we need when the time comes.

Adam singing the theme from"Rocky" while stacking trees.

Adam singing the theme from”Rocky” while stacking trees.

Back inside the house, it’s lovely and warm, and over lunch Adam plays games and I read a book. The rain turns to sleet, then to snow, and I watch from my comfy chair. I have a pot of beans on the stove- the woodstove- and later I’ll make ham and beans. When the sun goes down we’ll eat our beans, watch a movie, and get ready for another peaceful night.

Ode to a Woodstove

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The weather yesterday reminded us that winter is not quite finished. Though we got a lot more rain that snow, it was plenty cold, especially compared¬† to the unseasonably warm days that preceded. But, we were snug inside with our woodstove. If you’ve never had a woodstove, you’re missing out on a lot of perks.

For one thing, it gets warm! Like, real warm. Much more than a fireplace, the woodstove radiates heat. I can get it going so hot on the coldest days that I can sit around in shirtsleeves. For a perpetually cold person, this is a luxury.

It’s free. Especially since a neighbor brought us a couple of trees already in pieces. But even so, there is enough wood on our place to fuel our fires pretty much forever.

It smells nice. Oak, walnut, and other local trees are mildly scented, and the occasional hickory or cedar give that warm, holiday smell. It creates a cozy, crackling ambiance, especially in the evenings, when we open books or play games.

Having a stove hot all day is wonderful for warming all kinds of things on its top. I can warm the plates, which come out of the cupboard icy cold most days. A kettle can stay there all day, so I have hot water immediately at the ready. (Even when we get running water, hot water is going to be work!) We like our coffee boiled, not dripped, and the enamelware pot can go right on top of the woodstove, so the coffee stays hot until it’s all drunk. Another thing that can sit there all day is beans. Dry beans can be soaked in a soup pan, and by evening they are ready to eat. Although I know from experience that, even at the temperature I like it, it is not quite hot enough to boil potatoes or pop popcorn.

A warning, though: it does get hot enough to melt synthetic fabrics.  Like fuzzy socks, for example.

Come on over

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This is what the driveway looked like when we first saw our property: DSCN4140

This is the view from the road. Now, this next one is facing the opposite way, but look how much more homey the driveway is now! Once the mud wore off, we discovered it actually has a layer of gravel, which is quite the bonus.

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Buster sure is enjoying it! He’s waiting in the driveway for Adam to come home, and then he wanted to know what I was up to. I’ll Update when there are leaves on the trees. (Hopefully that will be soon!)

Adam digs a hole

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Initially, we had determined to rent a backhoe to dig the hole where our future house will go. But then Adam said he’d just dig it with a shovel, since he didn’t have much else to do. Although he does have a lot to do, like rip up old fencing, fence the new garden, tear down the old lean-to, chop trees for the house, chop cedar trees just cause they’re there, muck out the pond, clear the rubble from the old foundation, and so on. But it’s nice out, so he started digging. Also I fed him steak and eggs for breakfast, so he had lots of energy.

 

 

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Buster looked on as Adam dug the very first hole for our new house! He is at the far south-west side of the future house.

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It’s so nice how his pants and shoes are still clean in this one. But then he got down to business. And changed his shoes. And decided he needs some work boots sooner rather than later.

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He was using the spade to loosen up the soil, and the shovel to chuck it out of the hole.

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They did a lot of chasing each other and barking, so now they’re worn out. And they can’t figure out why Adam is digging a hole in the middle of the field.

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What we have here is very heavy, wet, red clay. It alternates across the hill with rocks. Lots of rocks.

After about 2 hours of digging, there’s a 4×6 3 foot deep hole. We are planning a partially earth-sheltered house. Which means that Adam will have to go down about 8 feet in this location, then go 48 feet east, where the depth will only need to be 2-4 feet. He has reconsidered renting a backhoe.

 

The dogs like it here

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The dogs really like it here. We’re getting settled on our land in our camper. 14 acres is a lot of land for two people and two dogs to explore. And we’re exploring! It’s about half pasture and half woods, and every day we’re making new discoveries. You can walk for hours up hills, through grass, under trees, and across stream beds and still be on our land. It’s quite exhilarating.

But, I don’t think anyone could be happier than these two dogs. After more than 18 months of riding in cars (which they do very well) and being staked out on tie-downs (which they do very grudgingly), they can run and sniff to their hearts’ content. Two hour-long walks per day is nothing to Buster. (Although it seems to be Jack’s limit. He turns 11 this month.) They can roll exuberantly in the deep grass. Then there’s the bones to consider.¬† Not only are there tons of tasty deer bones to discover in the tall grass, at some point a cow died out here. (Or possibly a bison. These bones are huge!) There are aproximately 10, 000 trees to pee on and for once, Buster is pacing himself.

But I think what is making them the most happy is that they can tell WE are happy. They’re very intuitive puppies, and they really do care how we feel. One of my life’s dreams has been to sit outside each morning with my coffee and pet Jack. I think that’s been one of Jack’s dreams, too, because he happily complies.

 

P.S. Living this rurally has its limitations. While we sort of get internet during the middle of the day, we’re on the lookout for a good rural phone and internet provider so I can post more frequently!