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

And…she’s up!

I am writing this from the living room in our city house. This room is about the same size as our new cabin that we BUILT last week!  Perriee and I took the week off of work to get as much done as possible and let me tell you, we needed every day of it to get the frame up and cover it with a roof.  As it stands, it might already be drier than the tipi and the end walls aren’t even up yet.

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My dad, step-mom, brothers, sister, and brother’s girlfriend came in on Saturday (from Cleveland)  to kick everything off. My brother, Carm, and his girlfriend, Rachel, helped us with some amazing math skills to figure out how to make these beautiful angle cuts on the miter saw with the wood that goes on the end walls.  My sister, Crystal, picked up lunch on her way in and took three, hour long trips to Lowes to make sure that we had the correct fittings for our hose that connected to our nail gun and compressor (just when we thought we had all the pieces, we discovered that the compressor hose we bought months ago did not come with any fittings on it- who woulda thunk?).  

We got the end walls and the ridge beam up on Sunday with the help of Matt and my family.  My brother Mark helped us get up 10 of the 30 rafters before he headed back to the city.  Perriee and I worked on the rest of the rafters, including floating “cat ladders” on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday, we put up the nailer boards for the roof and two roofing panels. Brother Mark came back Thursday to bring it home with putting up the rest of the roof and a temporary ridge cap.  It was then that you could see how happy that cabin was to be in her place. That spot beckoned for her. She is settled in there like she has been there forever and we can’t wait to spend the rest of our forever with her.

Friday, Perriee and I decided our bodies needed a couple of days rest, so we tossed up a bit of Tyvek wrap on the back wall and organized everything before we left for the week.  I must not neglect to mention one more pearl…that we moved one of our homemade sawdust toilets into the cabin before we left. Not only did we build the shell of our home, but we also started design on our bathroom.  It is glorious. No more long, muddy treks to either the house or the “Number 2 Room”. From now, until we start sleeping in the there with the potty, there will be only short muddy treks to the cabin. It is even complete with a hand washing station, thanks to Ms. Gwen, Perriee’s mom, who gifted us a water cooler to keep out at the farm a while back.

Before we go back, we will have another consultation with neighbor Mark to talk about how to fix the ridge cap and get some guidance about putting up some of the plywood on the exterior walls. We may need to run some extra wood around the eave ends to give the plywood a place to latch on to.   It seems we may be getting a ladder soon, one long enough to get back up to the top of the roof. We rented ladders for the week, which were picked up on Friday, so we will let our savings recoup a bit before we get one.

Homework:

Need to work on a relationship?  Build a cabin together! Ok, maybe not a cabin, but work on something as a team that neither of you know how to do already.  Change a light fixture, put up some drywall, build a cat house, tile a floor. It might not be cheaper than therapy, but you will get to reap both the benefits of the project as well as grow stronger together in the process.  Perriee and I already have a solid relationship, but i realized this week, that every project we embark on together is like a team building exercise. It is almost comical to think about, but it is true! I am going to miss her so much next week when we go back to our regular jobs.  This week doused a load of fuel on our fire to move towards our goal of being together full time. We had roller coasters of emotions this week, but we were able to problem solve amidst all of our frustrations, and when we were packing up yesterday, it was apparent that not only did we build a strong cabin, but we made our marriage stronger as well.

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!