We’ve been living on our land for almost ten months now (can you believe it?!) and all we can say is WOW, what we’ve managed to accomplish is astonishing. In late winter and early spring, we did a lot of cleanup around the property and over the last ten weeks or so, we’ve completed a lot of new projects that we want to share with you.
Mulched Our Garden & Prepared Our Soil
Back in winter, in the beginning of this year, we decided to slow down a bit and in doing so, we decided to try our hand at a garden. We brought in some topsoil and compost, and then collected pine needles from the forest for our mulch. So far, it does seem that the mulch keeps the soil much more moist but not as moist as we would like. Either way, mulch is better than no mulch! Read our full blog post on how we are amending our clay soil.
Started Our Garden
One our raised garden beds were good to go, we decided to go crazy with seeds! Read our post on our no-cares given approach to starting our garden. We planted a little bit of everything to see what would sprout including tomatoes, lettuce, green onions, onions, potatoes, chard, beets, peppers, snap peas and more. So far, it seems that the cat digs up most of the seedlings and many things never sprouted at all. Here are a few pictures of what has been doing well up until this point.
Finished Our Hot Tub Deck
The biggest project we’ve worked on since we’ve arrived on our property is the building of our hot tub deck. This was an important project for us to validate that we could make lumber with an Alaskan chainsaw mill and then build with it. WE learned a lot of new skills, learned how to work with one another, and now we have a place to invite neighbors over for beverages or BBQs. We are SO HAPPY this is done, and we feel pride every single day when we look at it.
These past couple of months in particular we use our Granberg mini mill to create 4×4 posts for the railing, built the stairs, and also finished the railing where we put our leftover tree branches to use as banisters.
Major Property Clean Up & Scrap Burning
Before the heat of summer (or spring?) hit, we wanted to get any burning done on the property. We waited for the rain to get this done. Since we arrived on our property, we’ve accumulated quite the scrap pile of unusable or rotten lumber as well as unusable branches from the trees we fell last fall. We made a pile of the usable branches and burned the rest. We had quite the bonfire for two different nights!
Upgraded Our “Keep Honest People Honest” Security System
One of the things we did for peace-of-mind was install a door lock on our cabin. Yes, this is to keep honest people honest, but it was a small project we completed nonetheless. Click here to watch a fun video of this installation!
Randomly Acquired Some Red Wigglers
When we were out and about picking up our IBC tank, we ran into a guy that had a worm farm! He volunteered to send us home with a small bucket of red wigglers and we gladly took him up on the offer. We now have our own tiny worm farm and have another use for some of our leftover veggie and paper scraps! So far, so good, and we are so exited to use the castings and worm tea in our garden at some point. Hopefully we can scale our farm over time.
Installed a Cistern & Upgraded Our Water Solution
We hope to do a full post on our off grid water solution soon, but we’ll give you an overview. We basically bought an IBC tank as well as a 625-gallon cistern to put on the top of our hill, and we’re able to pump water from the IBC tank to the cistern. We weren’t planning on having this set up so quickly, but our hot tub catapulted us into making this happen, and we also wanted extra water on hand for potential fire fighting. We will need a different solution for this winter so hopefully we can get that done over the next four months or so.
Restored a Fischer Wood Stove
Another thing we hope to elaborate on soon is how we were able to find a Fisher wood stove for $100 and restore it to a like-new condition! Well, not like-new, but it looks pretty good! Even though winter is far away, it will come quick, and we already know that we don’t want to do another winter with our existing wood stove (last winter was somewhat rough). We jumped on this opportunity immediately even when we had other projects we would have rather been working on.
Stay tuned for how we did this. In the meantime, here are the ways we find tools and materials for great prices.
Put Our Scrap Wood to Use in Various Projects
Because we were on a roll with getting the hot tub deck usable, we decided to make some garnishings out of scrap wood we had laying around. Some of the things we built included a set of four chairs, two tables, railing for the deck, stairs to the deck and even a cute little bird house. See our post on scrap wood projects around the homestead.
Finished the Wood Fired Hot Tub
The most satisfying thing we accomplished in this time frame was the finishing of our DIY wood fired hot tub. Be sure to check our multi-part video series on how we were able to build this for about $850. Our first soak was incredibly satisfying, and so far we’ve fired up the tub eight consecutive nights in a row!
Poured Two Concrete Slabs
Because believe it or not we DO wish to start on our barn as soon as humanly possible (our lives our quite busy and we have a lot going on that we don’t share on the blog), we decided to get started with a concrete project. Neither of us have worked with concrete before so we poured a couple of slabs. They turned out great, and we’ve already learned a few lessons about what NOT to do! Read our post on our first concrete projects.
Did Lots of Studying on Timber Framing, Stone & Water
In between all of this, we survived our first hot streak (95 degrees on our property in full sun with ZERO shade) so we ordered some books and got to reading. Some of these we read cover to cover, others are still waiting to be read. One book at a time, we’re gaining the knowledge we need to start our barn although at some point the reading will need to stop and practice will need to take over.
Some of the new books in our library include:
- The Timber-Frame Home: Design, Construction, Finishing
- A Timber Framer’s Workshop: Joinery, Design & Construction of Traditional Timber Frames
- Timber Frame Construction: All About Post-and-Beam Building
- Learn to Timber Frame: Craftsmanship, Simplicity, Timeless Beauty
- Build a Classic Timber-Framed House: Planning & Design/Traditional Materials/Affordable Methods
- Building Stone Walls
- Historic American Timber Joinery: A Graphic Guide
- Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use–Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks
Moving Forward: The Remainder of Summer
In all honesty, I’m not sure exactly what we will get done the remainder of summer. We have spent so much money over the past few months that we need to let our bank account recover a bit, we have family coming to visit us here and there, we have to check back in on our online businesses at some point, and we have a few other personal loose ends we’d like to tie up before taking on any more large projects.
We will continue to wrap up small projects here and there but one secret I want to let you in on if you’ve made it this far is that we have the beginning of our solar power system in the mail as we speak! Can’t wait to share the details with you.
Here’s to another few great months on our off grid homestead!
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