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May Update

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When I go for runs, last year’s corn fields are a patchwork of color. This one is brown with remnants of old corn stalks. That one is freshly plowed with green spears of new corn popping up. And the next is covered with yellow flowers – mustard flower or goldenrod or something.

My back yard is green, green, green. The grass melts into the woods behind, and the interstate is finally obscured by foliage. Birds nesting in a hole in the side of the house chatter and chirp and screech at each other as they fly in and out. In the distance, goats bleat, and next door, the horses whinny and snort and gallop. Giant carpenter bees deafen me with their buzzing, and frogs in the dilapidated pool warble and croak, drowning out other night noises.

Though I haven’t checked on them lately, Husband tells me the chickens are getting big and feathering out, and the bunnies are turning into eating machines. Need to get the chicken coop and the rabbit run built.

I’ve seen flowers blooming that I didn’t know we had; daffodils earlier this spring, plus a few tulips. I discovered a peony bush, and I planted some resurrection lilies and some irises around the bird feeders I set up, as well as some echinacea and butterfly weed. Sunflowers will soon make a border along the road in front of our house.

The gardens have been tilled and planting has begun. Potatoes and corn are in. Hills have been hoed for the pumpkins and squashes. One of these days I’ll help Husband to do more planting. It’s hard sometimes after nine hours at school; I want to collapse on the couch and have someone else make me dinner, but the grass is ankle-high so I need to mow, and Husband has been working hard all day, too. Frozen pizza dinners are anything but rare around here.

My summer job list is long, and mostly involves cleaning up things that never got properly done when we moved in last summer. Certain things just got piled as we worked on getting other spaces ready. Husband’s shop is nearing completion, so now it’s time to tidy all the stuff that looks like junk. (And the stuff that actually is junk needs to be hauled away.) Need to pull out landscape timbers and river rock that was meant to border flower gardens but instead just prevents a proper mowing job and gives weeds a place to flourish.

Monday Night Dinners, our weekly tradition for the last eight or ten years, may be a thing of the past, and we look to new ways to show hospitality in a more remote area that seems to discourage regular visitors but may welcome occasional masses of guests for big get-togethers. A friend suggested a quarterly party, and we ponder what that might look like. For summer, it will be basketball and volleyball once we get the equipment ready. Camp-outs are a possibility, especially now that the outhouse is ready for use. We shall see.

I sit on the back porch regularly, enjoying the view and the sounds. Loving this property. Thanking God for what he has given us.

The inspiration of spring

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The grass has turned green and the leaves are coming out on the trees.  Husband thinks the trees will be all leafed out in a week, but I think it will be two.  Anyway, it definitely looks like spring,  and it feels like it too, with warm temperatures, sunshine on some days and rainshowers or thunderstorms on others.  Forsythia bushes are turning yellow and pink magnolia trees are blooming.  Daffodils have been out for a while, and yesterday I saw some little white flowers in the back yard near the woods.  The grass is getting so long that mowing would be a good idea if I didn’t believe that The Beast would certainly get stuck in the very wet earth.

I decided I have two major home goals for this spring and summer.  First is to clean up the yard of all the junk lying around so that the place looks nicer.  When we moved, there was so much to do that a lot of things just got piled (or sometimes tossed) behind the barn or next to the fence, and that it where it has stayed for almost a year.  I want to take care of that this spring.  The second goal is to purge our belongings from the house and get rid of all the stuff we don’t really need or use.  Clothes, books, movies, kitchen supplies — nothing is safe!  If we plan to move into a tiny house, even if it’s just for a few months, then we need to get rid of some stuff.  Already I have combed through the bookshelves and piled onto the bed a lot of books that I don’t want or need.  I’ve been sorting through clothes for a while, making a pile of items I haven’t worn in at least a year or that I know I’m unlikely to wear again.  The cookbooks are next on the list.  (We own dozens and use a small fraction of them, especially now that recipes can so easily be found online.)

Spring always brings the feeling of newness and the desire to clean and make everything seem as fresh inside as it is outside.  I am inspired!

The Outhouse, Part One

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Friday night, the Husband asked me, “Wanna build an outhouse this weekend?”

It’s a project we’ve been planning to do, and since it’s a small project, we figured it wouldn’t take too much time or money to complete it.

We started off by drawing some plans.

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Of course, once we purchased the materials, the plans changed because our goal was to complete the task as inexpensively as possible.  Thus, we changed the dimensions of the plan to fit the materials we had.  But in the meantime, we made a list of things we needed, and Saturday morning we went shopping.

First, we went to this place downtown that sells reclaimed items.  It’s mostly wood from demolished barns and houses, but they also had doors, hinges, and doorknobs.  The proprietor was a little rough around the edges, and not very willing to negotiate prices.  We ended up with a door, some hinges, and some door handles.  We spent $42.80, which is more than I expected, but I guess reclaimed items are all the rage these days so they don’t come cheap.

After that, we went to the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store.  There we found a couple of pieces of wood that we will use for the bench inside the outhouse and for the door on the back from which we will remove the waste.  We realized we probably could have gotten a door there, too, and cheaper than what we’d found at the other place, but oh well.  We spent $6.42.

Our last stop was at Menard’s where we bought a couple of 4×4 treated posts, a treated 10-foot 2×6, some screws, a toilet seat, and a large bucket.  We spent $53.55

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Husband started by making some skids for the bottom of the outhouse.  Basically, it will be on a kind of sled so that it will be easier to move if we would want to do that.  He rounded the ends of the 2×6.

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After he framed the base (sled), he attached the 4×4 posts.  (We had purchased two, and we had two more at home.)

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He began adding cross pieces to make sure the posts stayed square.

Meanwhile… I was trying to tear apart a bunch of pallets we had.  (We plan to use the slats as siding on the outhouse.)  This was NOT an easy job.  In fact, it was much more difficult than I’d imagined.

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The wood would splinter when I tried to pull it loose from the frame, and the nails were threaded, which made it even harder.  Eventually, husband determined the best method was to cut through the nails with a Sawzall instead of trying to pry them out.

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I took a break from the pallets to help get the posts squared up.  Then it was time to start on the floor.

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Husband framed the floor, and I began marking the decking (which we already had) so he could cut it to fit.  Once it was cut, I screwed the decking to the joists.

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By then, we were ravenous, so I went inside to make supper.  (Spaghetti & sauce with broccoli on the side.  Easy and quick!)

While I did that, Husband finished up the basic frame of the outhouse and began putting the siding on.

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Then we ate dinner.  The sun went down, so we stopped our work for the night.

I’ll document part two as soon as we get to it!

On Second Thought…

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We had made some decisions, and then we began to rethink them.

First, we had just about decided to get rid of the rabbits.  When the husband is gone and I’m still working full time, it’s hard for me to take care of them, especially when their water freezes several times a day.

But then, the husband found something unexpected when he went to check on them one day in March.

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Husband had bred a couple of the rabbits, but we didn’t think either of them got pregnant.  We saw no signs of either rabbit preparing a nest box.  And we looked during the time when we expected babies, and saw no babies.

But then, suddenly, there were cute baby bunnies!  And how can you resist those little fuzzballs?

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So we’ll keep them for a while, at least until next winter.

Another thing we’d thought we’d decided was to build a log home when we’re ready to build.  We went to a Log and Timber Home Show in March.

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We were inundated with information, but we did decide that we like the look of a timber frame home better than a log home, plus Husband thinks he could mill some of the timber himself.  We have a number of trees in our woods that need to come down, and Husband has a WoodMizer now.  And it would be pretty cool to have a house made partially from wood from our own property.

As if our heads weren’t full enough of house plans and ideas, we also went to a Tiny House workshop sponsored by Tumbleweed Tiny Homes.

SONY DSCWe had thought first that we would build a true Tiny House (around 200 – 250 square feet, on a trailer like a custom RV), but then we thought maybe we’d just build a small cabin of 350 – 400 square feet.  Then we realized that in order to do that, due to local building codes, we’d have to apply for a variance because we are permitted to have only one residence on the property.  (And we plan to keep the small house even after we build the bigger house.)  After we went to the Tiny House workshop, Husband determined that it made more sense to build the custom RV on a trailer than attempt to jump through all the hoops to apply for a variance.  And I realized that building a Tiny House actually doesn’t seem that hard, and we can totally do it ourselves.  That was exciting.

We have much ahead of us.  But it will be an exciting journey!

Signs of Spring

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Happy Spring!

So Much

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There is so much happening, and so little time to write about it.

In the future, I hope to tell you about a Log and Timber Frame Home Show we went to, an unexpected litter of bunnies, plans for the summer, the Tiny House workshop we’re attending soon, and ideas for building a carport, our cottage, and our home.

In the meantime, I have sub plans to write, research to begin for the class I’m taking, a barn to clean out, and a lot of information to process!

The Swirl

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At 9pm, my eyes get sandy and my energy drops.  Time for bed.  I tuck myself under the covers and drift to sleep.

At 2am, my bladder wakes me and I pad off to the bathroom.  When I return to bed, I snuggle back in, thinking that sleep will return to me.

Instead, a hurricane of thoughts fills my head.  Lessons I need to plan, copies I need to make, a quiz I need to alter.  The research paper I need to write for the class I’m taking.  And when will I get it done with house guests two weeks in a row and a mini-vacation planned after that?  And the refrigerator needs to be cleaned, and I forgot to buy flea prevention for the dogs.  There’s a log cabin show at the state fairgrounds this weekend.  Where will I buy the fruit trees I want to plan and when should I plant them and where?  Do I really want the strawberries where I had originally planned them?  If we buy a tractor, will there be enough money left to purchase the supplies to build an outhouse this summer?

I roll over, hoping a change in position will help.  The cat shifts her weight on my legs, wondering why I’m disturbing her sleep.

I remember I didn’t put away the laundry yet, or vacuum the living room rug.  I wonder if bleaching the well is the best way to get rid of the sulfur smell in the water.

The cat box needs to be cleaned.

I ask God to clear my mind so I can get back to sleep.

Will the research project I thought of for my eighth graders be too hard?  Is it okay if it’s hard because they need a challenge?  Why haven’t we heard back from the meat processor about the deer Stephan took there a few weeks ago after he hit it with his car?

Flip the pillow to the cool side.  Look at the clock.  Thirty minutes have passed.  Forty-five.

Everything I just thought about runs through my head again, this time in a different order.  Trees, tractor, strawberries, outhouse, research, guests, fridge, vacuum, lessons, laundry.

I try to release it all, but mostly it continues to run in the mental hamster wheel.

My eyes droop again, and I hope this time it will be for good.

Soon, it will be time to get up.

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