Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Trial Run

The thought of us actually enacting our crazy idea and building a house seems so far off... mostly because I stay so busy with the day to day domestic survival that I don't often get to stand back and look at the big picture.  Just the other day, Jeff brought up our "10 year plan".  I sighed and asked when it started.  Much to my surprise, and relief, it was already well underway.  It began when we purchased the property.  We moved out of our home.  We moved in with my parents.  Jeff helped swing hammers to fix up their old house.  We moved into it.  When I stand back and think about it, I know we are already on step 4 or so, but, it's easy for me to lose sight of it as I trudge along. Plus, we just think BIG.

After Easter, Jeff and I sat down in front of AutoCAD and took a hard look at our house plans.  We knocked off the master wing on the main floor.  With a finished attic, we can move up to the second.  A few days later, we knocked off the large utility room off the kitchen.  With a full basement and a laundry room on the second floor, we can live without it.  And, like the master wing, we can add it later.  Our plan is now 1,000 square feet lighter, and getting to feel way more realistic.  Again, the goal here is not to build Barbie's Dream Home.  It's to work out butts off in order to live the life that we envision for our family, on 25 dark, peaceful acres, without taking on another mortgage to get there.  Jeff thinks that, if we can get our budget back on track and save like mad, we could possibly be close to having it built in 2 years.  Even if it's 3 years, I am still impressed.

Last week, I was able to head to the property with Jeff.  Just the two of us.  We took the truck and a couple shovels, and loaded up with some rich, dark mulch that we have in surplus down there.  With no kids in tow, it was easy for us to hike our land... checking out potential house locations.  Out of the two that Jeff was there to look at, I had strong opinions about one of them.  I like it.  I am starting to be able to see it.  With the more streamlined plan, I am beginning to feel like it's possible.

Jeff and Randy have been working on our trial run with timber frame / post and beam construction.  Since September, they have been milling trees from Randy's backyard into the beams needed to build him a tractor barn.  The boys have a tree house over there, and they have done a marvelous job of rummaging through the scrap pieces to side the underpinning.

Jeff and his dad have cut and chiseled the mortes and tenons that will hold the structure together.  There are no nails in Post and Beam structures.  It is held together with pegs.... into peg holes... Amish style.  Jeff had to purchase a boring machine to create the peg holes.  He struggled with just which one to purchase off of Ebay.  For weeks, he eyed the auctions, waiting until he found the one that he wanted, and could justify spending money on.  Finally, he just did it.  He took the leap and bought one.  Just 30 minutes later, while rocking the girls before bed, Ivey asked if she could use his phone as a "flashlight".  45 seconds and $270 later, she had opened the Ebay app, bid, confirmed, bought, and paid for another boring machine.  Great.

Ivey's package came in the mail, late, and smashed to heck.  The machine was totally broken, and unusable.  It even came with a nice stamp from the post office, explaining that they had completely destroyed the package.  Sorry.  Luckily, we worked things out with the seller to have most of our money refunded, but keep it for the bits.  Randy worked on fixing the busted parts... and now, we can bore holes twice as fast.  Plus, we get to use the phrase "Ivey's boring machine", which is just ridiculous.

Jeff recently bought 600 feet of really nice nylon rope to go with the two purple pulleys that he has been so proud of.  Just this week, Jeff and Randy used said rope, pulleys, and a gin pole... and lifted an entire barn wall off the ground.  The wall was set in place, on top of 12" concrete footings.  Tonight, they moved the gin pole to the other end, in anticipation of picking up the other end this weekend.  I must say, I am impressed.  Not only were they able to cut down the trees, mill them, cut them to the right lengths, chisel the ends into mortes and tenons, put them all together, and pour the footings in the right places... they picked up a wall made of nine and a half feet long 8" x 8" posts.  The girt is twelve and a half feet long 6"x10".  The thing is massive.

This structure will be 12' x 16', roughly 1/4 of the size of our frame.  Yes, ours will have a basement, a second floor, and a finished attic... but I am a visual person.  I was able to stand there in the backyard and visualize the size of the living room that we have been staring at, and tweaking, on AutoCAD.  It's becoming more and more of a reality... and I am ready to get to the point where we can break ground.  It's not just the house that I am looking forward to.  It's the land, the creeks, the future garden, the barns we will build, the animals we will raise.  I am ready to be able to come back from visiting one of the farms that we know with a flock of heritage breed turkeys, or to have room for a kidding pen.  It's going to be a lot of hard work, but it will be so worth it!

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