Sunday, July 18, 2010
Trenches are partially dug
The building process is slow, but we are working hard every day. It's hot out, so we put 4 posts outside of the RV and strung up a tarp to cover it like a big circus tent. It's not as easy to string a big tarp over an RV as you would think. It makes it livable though and about 15 degrees cooler. The tarp is stretching out and we don't know how long it will last. Sometimes when it's really hot we run errands, go to the creek or to my mother-in-law's (Judy) house about 6 miles away. Otherwise we try to work in the shade. Judy's house is on top of a beautiful hill here in the Ozarks, big shade trees and a good breeze most of the time. She keeps us in cold fruit and it's a nice place to hang clothes! Judy is taking good care of us and it is so much easier with 3 people than with 2. We have help with almost everything we do and she always looks out for ways to help the most. She has stacked and sorted all the wood I use and today she worked on preparing the area for the cistern and root cellar. Did I mention she's 72?!
We've met 15 families in about a 6 mile radius since we've been here and I don't think I've ever known that many "neighbors". Many have offered to let us come cool down at their home in the middle of the day and it's so nice when they stop by. This is a great area and the people here are hard workers. When we see each other, we all have on the common uniform - sweat soaked and dirty clothes from working outside and that slightly melted look. I love it.
We can now pump water from our source to a 20 gallon tank near the RV. We still only have one solar panel hooked up, but it's working so well there hasn't been a rush to hook up the rest. Jeffrey's been working on that here and there and we'll have more power soon . The water tank has a splitter on the spigot with a garden hose nozzle on one side for washing with dirty hands (I can use my elbow to turn it on) and the other side a lever that will turn the water on and let it run. The tank sits on a pallet on an old Adirondack chair. It makes a great table for water filled 1 gallon vinegar jugs, plants, toothbrushes, soap, towels etc and is in a nice area for showering. My friend Kathy at Solarbaby taught me how easy it is to heat water in the sun and how hot it gets. It is a wonderful temperature for dish washing and showers. I like the used vinegar jugs because they are very sturdy, much more so than water jugs. In the morning I make sure there are at least 2 full gallons sitting on the side that gets sun and when I need the water that afternoon or evening, it's hot or warm enough. Two gallons is more than enough for our hot water needs. The water station along with having an outhouse, means there is no bathroom to clean! I never thought I'd love an outhouse, but I love mine. A little lid wipe down and sweep, all done.
The outdoor kitchen area is about as done as it will get for a while. There is a rock table that doesn't look that level from the side, but when you put a big cutting board full of ingredients and supplies on it; it's level enough. The two big bumps on top of the rock are level with each other to make it level for the cutting board. It's also a great place to sit at night and look at the stars. Dirt/clay from the excavation site mixed with water to make mud was used to level the stones. There is so much dirt and rocks from the excavation that will be left over and I'd like to use them to build a little cabin after the house is done.
We have chickens now and they are so cute. They are bug eating machines! They like to hang out with us during the day and when it's time to roost at night. Every night I have to carry them to their temporary coop that our neighbor let us borrow. I wish I could get them to go in there on their own, but nothing I do has worked. They don't like hopping up to the top of the chicken tractor to get down inside. They keep looking for a way directly in. Jeffrey is working on a fine coop for them and put the roof on today. So soon there will be a door they can go strait in.
On a sad note, we learned a very hard lesson about ticks here. One of our most precious cats died from Bobcat fever. It took him so fast. At first we thought he just wasn't feeling that well. Had to take him to the vet after 2 days and they thought it was respiratory infection. The next day they found it was Bobcat fever and the day after that, he was dead. The tick process we had in place didn't work. I did a lot of research and we are working harder than ever to do what we can so that ticks do not bite them. They are on a good program now and I'll write about that later. In the mean time, we've taken all the animals to Judy's house till we can get the tick population under control (hence the chickens). We aren't finding them on us much anymore and I think we're at the point we could bring the cats back here, but it's so hot and much more pleasant for them at Judy's. Maybe when it cools off, but Oooo I miss my kitties!
Every day the routine gets a little easier. I now almost always have dry wood and water handy. Getting up early and working before it gets hot helps, took a while to get trained to do that though. We are no where near where we thought we'd be, but we are learning as we go and that takes up quite a bit of time. Plus things just take longer than you'd think because life has to be worked in there too. There is more to creating a homestead than just building a house. What is required for day to day life stretches and warps our plans.
The trench for the main plumbing line and the gray water lines are dug. It made a complete mess of our level house site and my lines for the internal stuff like wet walls, sinks etc. So that will all have to be mapped out again and hand dug. It's 90% rocks out there and that doesn't make for easy work. There isn't a clean or straight trench out there, it was impossible, but it's good enough and there is enough wiggle room to make it work. Some rocks (aka boulders) will not budge at all, so my morning was spent busting up rocks with a sledgehammer that are in the trench and too high for the proper slope. I imagined that since the house site was so nice and level, the trenches would be done and we'd lay pipe, cover and BAM move on. I don't know how long it'll be now, but we're plugging (hacking and chipping) away at it. There were some pretty cool features in the first few house plans which have all been tossed to simplify and because of the rocky nature of our site. The plans are now as simple as I know how to make them and we hope to have a roof over our heads by winter.
Some of our neighbors have a PhD in finding deals and have really helped us out with supplies. We could probably have made it out here without them, but I wouldn't want to imagine it. Their generous friendships have made it better on so many levels. It's not just the stuff they've given us, or deals they've pointed to; it's their offer of friendship and checking in on us when it's really hot or just to see how we are doing that really cheers us up on a hot day or one with a lot of setbacks. But they all have setbacks too and we share. Thankfully there are also successes to share.
There's a lot to do and not much time for the computer lately. I find new flowers every few weeks it seems and I've tried to at least identify and use what I can, it'll be amazing to work here with them more after the house is done.