We are actually doing an okay job maintaining some sense of balance so far during this crazy summer. We are sore and tired a lot, but we are still smiling at each other and connected, so I’m calling it a win so far. I’ve found I’m less inclined to get to events or even keep up on what’s happening around town, but ultimately I think it’s fine since our focus and energy really needs to point to this project and our family for right now. One of the things I’m happy about is how we’ve been able to squeeze in treats and togetherness in unexpected ways. Our money is tight right now, but we were able to take a family sushi date by cashing in some of our big change jar.
It never ceases to amaze me how little it takes to recharge me. I can feel pretty intensely or hopelessly about something, and I’ll fill my needs just a little and I’m basically good to go. A good night’s sleep, some homemade food, a walk around the block, a strong sure hug, a phone call to my parents… In this case, some really good sushi and Japanese pickles with my beautiful kids and partner. I remember when the kids were little and I would get so overstimulated and tired and touched-out that I could barely stand it, I felt like I could burst. Jeff would relieve me and I would walk out into the world in search of peace, sometimes with tears welling up in my eyes hoping the neighbors wouldn’t notice. It was literally only 20 minutes in the fresh air that could bring me back home refreshed. I’m grateful that I can be replenished so simply and easily, at least when it comes to the small stuff.
Things have been going really well out on the farm. Milton and I have finally hit some kind of an organizational stride, which has been really validating for us. Thankfully, in the thick of all the other stuff that’s going on for us, we are getting things done without stress or rushing, and I’m feeling pretty good about just keeping up this pace until we can really set up shop out on the land. Once we are out there and I’m on site all the time I can expand the business, really dig in to veggie/perennial production, and get some animals!!! I can’t wait. All the time that Milton and I have spent philosophizing and studying systems and changing things around every week or two has really yielded us some good things that will benefit us in the future. I often thought of our organizational process like reorganizing an overstuffed neglected closet. Everything spills out and feels worse until the last few minutes of the project when everything gets tucked away or taken out. The work of doing-things-better is often a chaotic and messy process, I’m learning. Sometimes you have a lot more to sift through than just the contents of a job. Character defects and spiritual/emotional obstacles play into these things just as much, and I’m finding they deserve just as much honor and attention.
Below is a picture of our adorable pests- the ducks. They have always been my garden helpers (eating insects and being generally respectful of the veggies) until we moved the micros out to the hoop house. Then, for some reason, they started harassing the trays of sunflower shoots. We fiddled around with deer netting to keep them out, but we kept tripping over it and getting caught on it. We then realized that they were only messing with the sunflower shoots, not the other varieties. We removed the netting, moved everything up on shelves, and we thought the solution was simply to keep the sunflower trays up higher than others. But, as you can see in the blurry photo below, they were not discouraged by this.
They are barely nibbling at them, but mostly they are liking to lay down on them! What a strange thing! Below you can see her little napping spot, along with a nice little poop that she left behind. Grrr. We haven’t had much in the way of sunflower shoots lately because we have to toss all the trays that they contaminate. Anyway, we put up deer netting again around the shelving, in a way that causes less tangling, and so we’ll see…
But, you know, it’s always a welcome reminder that I am not the only one running the show. Kind of like the incident with the snakes not so long ago. I run into these small obstacles all the time, and I just have to shift. We had a chest freezer out in the hoop for a time, and we went to move it but noticed that there was a mama duck sitting on a nest behind it. So we left it, despite their annoying nap-on-the-sunflowers habit, and waited. About a month she’s been back there, and just a few days ago the eggs hatched! See the little babies in the picture below?
Okay, so… house! Jeff is back to work and I’m back doing all the markets and deliveries again, so things are going a little slower now. But still, I’m always impressed by Jeff (how did I get so lucky?!) and how efficiently he works. He’s so focused on the project, so organized, so excited about everything. It’s great. However, he runs kind of high-anxiety on a normal basis, and so we’ve been doing a lot of processing together to keep it all in our grasp. It’s times like this that our emotions can kind of sneak-attack surprise us, I think. We’re constantly digesting what this all means to us. Like, just this morning Jeff and I were sitting on the porch for our coffee together, and he exclaimed “You know, this is like… a big job! A really big job.” To which I replied “Uhhh… Yeah! I think it might be one of the biggest we’ll ever have.” Obvious, right? But we still have to keep doing to work of realizing ourselves in this situation, in this life. Anyway, here’s what’s happened over the past week and a half or so.
He and our friend John sheathed the north side of the house. Here’s a view of it down one of our lovely wooded pathways.
Below is a view from the south, without any sheathing.
Next Jeff framed up the gable on the east side, which will turn into our loft bedroom.
The kids are getting more and more excited, jumping into play when we get out there to visit and peering out their respective bedroom windows. I, however, cannot be of any help when the kids are on site because I’m too dang paranoid to think straight. The south side is two stories up, and the loft is just… so high up there. I’m not really afraid of heights, I’m just apparently petrified that my children will trip and fall 3 stories despite the fact that they’ve always been pretty cautious and good with their own bodies. I just. can’t. handle. it. So I just keep a very watchful eye on them if they are up high and then we leave pretty quickly. Jeff has been understanding, the kids are often too distracting to keep out there long anyway.
Jeff is only working 4 days a week right now so he can dedicate 3 full days to working on the house. He took Wednesday off last week, and my parents came out to help. Below is my adorable mama, ready to work! I couldn’t be there to help since I was watching a bunch of kids that day, but I was able to stop by when they got there and then also when they left.
When I stopped by in the afternoon to check on everyone, I found that they had sheathed almost all the way up the south side! This was not part of Jeff’s plan, which had been stressing me out because of aforementioned kid safety, but he just didn’t see it as a priority and thought the set-up would be too much. But, my sweet parents who had knowledge of my anxiety gently suggested they keep going up to the point where the kids would be safe. I got there and immediately saw that they had veered from the original plan, and I felt so loved!! Now the kids can run around the main floor safely!
They did a ton of sheathing that day, I was super impressed. I hear there were sore muscles the next day. When I asked about how they convinced Jeff to keep going, Jeff said that my dad just kept saying things like “Let’s just do this next row here and see how it goes…” and things like this. Hearing this immediately made me smile, because I just know my dad. It flashed me back in time to when I had running dates with him when I was 12 or so. I’d be tired and feeling like quitting, and he’d say “We’re almost there, just a couple of minutes more. Round this bend, okay?” I’d agree and push a little farther, but then he’d hit me with the same thing again and we’d go a little more. Next thing I knew, we’d run 4 miles instead of the 2 I thought we were going to. I’d roll my eyes at him for tricking me, but I always felt really proud to have accomplished it. He just sort of knew what I could handle, and it was more than I gave myself credit for. My dad has a real gift for gently encouraging people’s true abilities, being able to vision with them, and not giving air time to the kind of thoughts and logic that stop us short. We have needed that kind of encouragement before and during this project, especially.
My mom, in addition to pulling her weight with the sheathing that day, also picked up and swept the basement floor thoroughly. She didn’t think much of this contribution, but when I saw it I couldn’t believe the difference it made! It suddenly transformed the former work space into a home space… something about the clean floor made it possible to imagine living there.
Asa turned five last Friday. FIVE. It was a beautiful day, and he was so excited. He’d counted down to his birthday for a solid two weeks. His requests were adorable and specific. Although he continued to change his mind and ask for too much. I had to explain to him that, while he is so loved and his birthday is cause for great celebration, we were not, in fact, going to be able to give him *everything he could ever want* on that day. He was generally understanding after this conversation, and he settled on a trip to one of his favorite restaurants, dessert and presents at home, and to stay up for a movie of his choosing. Cute.
On Sunday we hosted our first official family party out on the land. My mom’s side of the family has a lot of July birthdays, so we always try to get together sometime in July to celebrate them all. We decided to host everyone and show them the house. It was really hot and humid and mosquitoey, but otherwise I think it was a success.
The first of many gatherings to come!
Back to the house. Jeff sent me this picture last weekend with the comment “Honey! We’ve moved in!” All the tools and everything were living out in our little make-shift shed, so moving them into the basement is a nice step up. Once the house is buttoned up so that moisture will stay out, I plan to immediately finish the floor with a nice acid stain, like one of these. Then we plan to move stuff into the basement to ease our moving burden later on.
Next Jeff framed up the west gable wall. He also made this temporary floor over the tie beams so he can construct the roof safely.
I’m so impressed with this guy! He’s always got a creative solution up his sleeve. Jeff was working out how to get the roofing material and beams up onto the loft and temporary floor without breaking his back. He ended up using the tractor to create an earth ramp, then using the bucket to lift the materials up to him. Isn’t he clever?
Next project is the roof framing, which is what Jeff and I will be working on tomorrow evening.