A few steps forward, a few steps back……a few more steps back….a little further…..ok, that’ll do. One thing we didn’t anticipate in our move to the new Acre was exactly how much work goes into building a farm from the ground up. Just when we were quite busy with the new and different lifestyle that yurt living offered plus growing a family that would soon equal the size of a basketball team, we then realized we had to take on the task of building a home. Don’t worry, we didn’t jump to this conclusion….we spent a lot of time trying to postpone the responsibility, even trying to skirt around the inevitability of it. It didn’t work. No matter which way we cut it, we would eventually need to build a home that would fit all of us comfortably and allow us to process and store our raw farm materials….all while conforming to our county’s building codes. (This last part didn’t concern me one bit, but seeing as how my husband works closely with our County Officials and Building Department, we felt the need to not piss anyone off….we didn’t succeed, but more on this later….) This, combined with current interest rates, brought us to the decision to build a house…..we had no idea what we were in for.
We were lucky enough to know a builder who designed his own houses and was able to take one of his designs and tailor it to our personal needs. We were lucky enough to know the exact spot where we wanted our house as it pertained to maximum passive solar capability and the best views on our land. We were lucky enough to find an experienced builder to do our frame work, who (in our tough economy) was willing to bill two builders for the price of one. We were lucky enough to employ friends to do our electric, plumbing, and woodstove installation. We were also lucky enough to have the good sense to hire a drywall crew, the best in the valley, keeping us from this tedious and monumental task. The rest was up to us. The sheeting, the roofing, the painting, the cabinets and countertops, shower tiles, wood floors, concrete stain, trim work….every other detail, every other burden, was ours to bear….while we were expecting a child, while we lived in a yurt.
We held meetings with our framers in the yurt over candlelight. We went to the library to research everything from wall coverings to tile installation. We read magazines, books, online articles…all pertaining to home building. Then we worked. We picked out and stained our own butcher block countertops, we fastened every piece of backing for every piece of cabinetry, we cut trim pieces, we painted soffit, we hung doors. We had conversations with various contractors on cell phones while standing on the porch in the pitch-blackness of night. We looked at samples of materials in the moonlight so as not to wake the kids with our headlamps and endless chatter of how we thought things should be. The entire process consumed us, and though we lost ourselves in it, we never lost who we were…
We remembered to keep within sight of why we were making these sacrifices, who we were sacrificing for. We supported our daughter who was starting preschool for the first time in her life. We were patient with my mood swings since I was patiently growing a new family member for us to share our lives with. We were understading of my husband, whose job can take him away at a moment’s notice, leaving us scrambling to wash the dishes so we can cook dinner while trying to chop enough wood to provide heat for the long nights in the yurt. We laughed at our son who, in his eagerness to combat the wearing of jackets inside the yurt, asked every one of our visitors to “Jack, off.” Our domestic animals, our wild brethren, our family near and far, we tried to accomodate. And eventually, our newborn son was welcomed with open arms, all work postponed minus the coalescing of a family.
It was only the beginning of our process; the house, the paddock, the gardens, the barn… Will we ever be completely finished on the Acre? I doubt it. But I also doubt that we will ever want to be finished on the Acre. Our very first Spring on the Acre brought with it a new life and each consecutive Spring will bring the possibility of new life. Each Summer will bring the means to sustain life. And each Fall will bring the means to create new life once again. We will embrace this cycle here on the new Acre, we will work hard to protect and support our family and farm, and most importantly we will aim to never, ever forget who we are and where we came from…..