As I write this, it is mid-November and we have passed the two-month mark on our land! While our first month was spent primarily running errands, picking up tools found on Craigslist and taking our trailer to the septic dump, month two was very different. In weeks 4-8, we actually got a lot of work under our belt!
When we were first embarking on our journey of starting our homestead, we had some elaborate plans in our head of what would get done when. As mentioned in our month one update, we thought we’d hit the ground building on day one even our second month was spent doing little tasks that needed to happen prior to intense building… like gathering stuff to put in our homestead tool box!
While we could have started building our barndominium pretty quickly, the events of month two confirmed that it was wise to get some work under our belts first for the sake of learning our tools, developing new skills and working on our working-relationship together.
Collected $5,000 to $10,000 in reclaimed materials from a demolition.
One of our biggest projects in month two was salvaging materials from a demolition. We found this opportunity by calling on a Craigslist ad for a bunch of used roofing for $300. When we showed up, we were informed by the contractor that we were free to take anything we’d like out of the house as it would be demolished in two days.
In short, we fueled up our portable generator spent 3.5 days salvaging every last board of lumber we could, in addition to the roofing, and it was a great opportunity! Check out this article we wrote for Mother Earth News about this demolition in detail. Lots of great information, as well as info on how to find your own demolitions to take advantage of!
Built sawhorses with leftover lumber from our DIY Alaskan chainsaw mill.
This is a fairly little project, but we feel the need to mention it because we’re learning that when starting a homestead from scratch, especially with your loved one, it is critical to start out by completing small projects. If you go straight for the large home when you haven’t done anything small together, you increase the risk of not completing the project and giving up in frustration.
Check our our blog post on the diy sawhorses built with leftover lumber milled using our homemade chainsaw mill and the fun video too! In the blog post, we delve more into why this sawhorse project was so important to us and our off grid homestead from scratch project.
Built the framework for our hot tub deck.
Many of you know that we’ve been working on our diy hot tub deck. In month one we fell two Douglas fir trees which we ended up milling into lumber with lots of fun power tools handed down from past generations of carpenters. This was our first lumber milling experience and we’re happy to report that everything went really smooth! Okay maybe we tried to make our little Craftsman table saw into a sawmill and it wasn’t too happy, but with a little patience, it cut every last board perfectly!
In month two, we got up the framework for our hot tub deck. We only ended up working on the deck for maybe five days total as many other projects needed attention and some unexpected projects took precedence. For a few days of work, we got quite far. We are now ready to mill up some decking and to add some sort of roof to create a shelter. We have in mind a lean-to single pitch roof design that we hope will both maximize the view of the mountains and valley as well as give us the beginnings of our first ever rain collection system! Exciting stuff!
Many of you have been asking about why the hot tub has been a priority for us when we don’t even have a real home (barn or house) to live in, which is a great question! We plan on writing a full blog post on why this is so important to us and why we believe it is critical to our journey, success and happiness.
Found $10,000 in materials for under $1,000 due to our barter flyer.
In month one we created our “barter flyer”. We posted this around town with the materials and tools we were in need of, and to our surprise, it has saved us a lot of money so far! One man alone has given us roofing, travertine, two wood stoves, high density foam, plumbing parts, electrical parts, five double-pane vinyl windows, 2,000 bricks for $75 ($4,000+ value), a bunch of fiberglass insulation, cedar boards and more. Here are our 9 top ways to find your own reclaimed building materials!
We spent way more money than we planned but opportunity doesn’t always knock at convenient times and we always try to open the door for it which is one reason why we seem to find so many great deals. If it makes sense, we make it happen even if timing isn’t perfect.
Took four days off to spend time with our first visitors- Jesse’s aunt and uncle!
We had our first visitors this month- Jesse’s aunt and uncle! They came at a time when we were in need of a break, so it was great to spend time with family while relaxing a bit. We took a drive up to Canada to visit Ainsworth Hot Springs, enjoy some fall color, and share a lot of laughs! While we are always busy trying to make progress in our lives and on our homestead, we also prioritize spending quality time with our family.
Winterized our trailer by building a 10×12, 3-sided timber frame tiny house style cabin with reclaimed materials.
This month, things were a bit hectic as there have been many signs that winter is rapidly-approaching! Our priorities quickly changed from developing our property to winterizing our trailer. Winterizing an RV can be challenging when living off the grid. There were a few solutions we could have used for this particular project but we decided that we wanted to build a small addition to our carport so that we could heat our space with a wood stove, plus have a little extra space around our RV. Here is a full post on the building of our winter cabin.
We calculated that this addition would have cost us over $3,000 if we were to buy the materials new. Due to spending so much energy and time on collecting reclaimed and second-hand materials, we were able to keep our cost to around $300, including a chimney for our wood stove, “windows”, and a bunch of screws! If screws are our largest cost then that is okay with us.
This project was only possible thanks to a short visit from Jesse’s sister. She’s a super hard worker and gave us a morale and labor boost just when we needed it. After moving materials for over a week then without a break doing nearly 4 days of demolishing work we were exhausted. Big sis arrived the next day and gave us a lot of help. We are very appreciative for all her hard work and the long drive she made to visit and help us. Next time she visits we hope to spend more time enjoying the area with her!
We got our winterizing done just in time! 10 minutes after lighting our wood stove for the first time we saw our first snowflakes fly! This was a pretty satisfying evening as the days leading up to the completion of our little cabin were incredibly stressful and hard on the mind.
Had our septic system installed, by contractors, after getting a septic permit.
As many of you know, we were really on the fence about whether or not to get a permit for our septic system, and then we had to decide whether or not we would install it ourselves. After much research and thought, we decided to let the professionals install our septic system for us.
There are many reasons we had this installation done so quickly, despite it costing us around $5,000 total. Read all about our decision in this blog post and video.
Had our second visitor… Jesse’s sister!
We touched on this earlier, but wanted to be sure she gets full credit! Jesse’s sister came up to visit for a few days and she said “I don’t want to leave until we get you set for winter”. This was totally unexpected but a huge help to us that we welcomed! Jesse’s sister has a lot of building experience so Jesse and his sis were able to beast-mode on many tasks like getting our trailer load of reclaimed materials back to our property safely (including 24′ long cedar poles!), getting chimney parts picked out, selecting our new Makita Cordless Drill Combo Kit to replace our growing pile of dead drills, the framework of our winter addition and dragging downed trees off the hillside for firewood. It was so great to spend so much time with her and also to use the strength of family to get projects done rapidly! You’re welcome any time sis!
Bought a handful of new goodies.
While we are trying to use as little money as possible on this trip, we did have to make a few purchases this month. In all honesty, we are spending a lot more money than we initially thought because it turns out there are a lot of things we don’t have but need to complete our homesteading tool box! While we don’t love spending money endlessly, we do consider most all purchases to be simply investments.
Some of the things we bought were Georgia Boot Romeos for Jesse (watch the unboxing here), a battery charger for the trailer, a Carhartt jacket for me (Alyssa) so I wouldn’t freeze, a Makita 18V LXT Brushless Cordless Drill and Impact Driver set because our brand new Black & Decker 20v cordless drill kicked the bucket (watch the unboxing here), and more. We also had our fair share of returns which was disappointing, not to mention a waste of our time, so we will be providing product reviews on those things as we have time.
Month Two in Summary
All things considered, we had another great month! We can’t say that this month was stress-free, however. We frequently struggle with the idea that we aren’t accomplishing what we want quickly enough, and our attention is often pulled in ten different directions at once. We can say in all fairness that we did a great job of burning the candle at both ends, and we are ready to calm down a bit for winter. We’ve also felt that we’ve been neglecting the blog a bit because we simply don’t have time to do it all. This is one of the reasons we are looking forward to winter, so we can share more of our journey with you all.
Hope everyone is ready for winter, here’s to month three!
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