Putting Up Rafters and Closing It In (Tiny House Part 3)

It’s been about a week and a half since I’ve checked in…. and we’ve gotten so much done on our house!!! I got to spend three days over the weekend with Judah and his family, and I’m so thankful for their help and support in this project. In case you missed them, here are part 1 and part 2 of our tiny house journey.

Putting Up Rafters and Closing It In

First, we did a supply haul. It was actually really fun marching around Home Depot with Judah, picking out windows, fasteners, lumber, siding, and lots of other things! Once we got to the land we started on the ridgepole and rafters as well as framing most of the windows and the door.

I learned a ton, and one of the more interesting things was getting to see how supports were used to keep everything square and plumb and in place. You can see that in this picture – all the diagonal boards and the two ones sticking in the air are temporary supports.

20170204_144713.jpg

20170208_142042.jpg

20170204_172812.jpg

Screenshot_20170206-215642.jpg

We had a fire going almost all the time because we (I say “we,” but I wasn’t always able to help due to a lack of knowledge or skills) often worked until it was quite dark and cold. Judah’s dad and siblings were often there too, helping and keeping us company. The yahoos (i.e. siblings) and I made a tire swing and a lovely fire ring!

20170206_220855.png

download_20170206_155324

Next we put sheathing (OSB) on the roof. It was pretty steep and slippery, but thankfully Judah is good at working on roofs so it went pretty smoothly. Also, check out that sunset! I’m so looking forward to living in this beautiful place.

download_20170205_214746.jpg

Next came Tyvek house wrap, in the dark.

download_20170206_155326

Early this week Judah and his dad put tar paper on the roof, some of the windows in, and most of the siding on! Now it’s weather-proof and we can work on the inside.

20170208_144551

Next up is electrical wiring, putting metal on the roof, and framing the bathroom…. It’s a big project, but it is such a blessing to be able to do something like this with my fiance! And whenever I tell him what an amazing job he’s doing, he says, “It’s all for you.”

Building the Deck and Outer Walls (Tiny House Part 2)

Lots can happen in one week! I got to spend Sunday and Monday working on the house with Judah (and Jo, for a bit). I learned a lot, like how to use a circular saw and a nail gun. And Judah learned that I’m scared of tape measures. (I don’t like it when they retract quickly… for some reason I think I’ll get a major paper cut. Apparently they’re safe, though.) But, for the record, he said I’m tough as nails. 😉 If you missed last week’s post about our tiny house, check it out here.

Building the deck and outer walls

First came concrete blocks as piers. We had eight sets of four concrete blocks each, four on each concrete runner under where the house would go. Then Judah laid four beams across the width of the house, on top of the piers. Next, we made four 32′ runners out of treated 2x6s and notched them for the joists.

20170122_102745.jpg

20170122_134513.jpg

20170122_134843

Then we had to get everything square. This part took a long time, and we learned that we should have gotten the concrete piers lined up exactly before putting wood on them… However, after much measuring and string-lining, we got things straightened out.

 

20170123_102124.jpg
Squaring the notched beams with a string line

Then we fitted the joists into the notches, like so. We used the string line again to get them perfectly in line.

20170123_114359.jpg

20170123_120603.jpg

Next we put on the outer band. Judah did most of the nailing while I positioned the boards.

20170128_204439.jpg

Oh hey, what do you know… we match. 😉 Mud and all.

download_20170124_220714.jpg

Next came insulation and the subfloor.

download_20170127_092230.jpg

Then the outer walls!!! These went up super fast.

20170128_140000

download_20170128_151823.jpg

download_20170128_163316.jpg

And that’s where we stand now! Next up is the roof. Stay tuned!

If you have any questions or want more specific information, leave a comment and we’ll get back to you!

 

Gettin’ the Go-Ahead (Tiny House Part 1)

It’s 35 days until our wedding, and Judah and I are building a house. Or rather, Judah is building it and I’m wistfully watching from 150 miles away (and helping whenever I can make the trip). Are we crazy? Yeah. But that’s nothing new…

I will be documenting the process of building our home here on the blog! Here’s part 1.

Inspections, permits, and lots of mud

Even though our house will be moveable and less than 450 square feet, we still had to go through the process of getting the land set up and inspected as if we were building a “regular” house.

Before that could happen, we had to reroute the water and electric lines. On December 17th (2016) we rented a trencher and Judah used that while I cleaned off the concrete runners (this site was set up for a house trailer, so there are two parallel concrete runners under where our house will be).

20161217_114438
The house site before trenching
20161217_114425.jpg
The trencher and Judah’s two lovely trucks 😉
20161217_121249.jpg
My favorite person doing an awesome job with the trencher
20161217_132654.jpg
Here you can see the concrete runners and one of the trenches

I thought it was beyond awesome that I got to be there with Judah as we broke the ground for the first time to build our house. I’ve always loved stories of the pioneers, and I can still hardly believe that Judah and I are building our first house together. There’s something so wholesome and wonderful about that.

It wasn’t all wonderful, however… later that day before we had a chance to finish the job it started raining. We worked in the rain for a while. And then it got dark. So we worked in the rain and the dark for a while. But eventually we stopped, discouraged and maybe a bit frustrated because we hadn’t planned things out very well.

 

20161217_191854
Two very wet and muddy people – smiling because we’re together

In the following weeks, everything passed inspection. The septic inspection took forever, though, leaving us hanging a couple weeks before we could even apply for a building permit. Once we passed the septic inspection, the permit took just a day to acquire. Judah got it yesterday! *cue confetti and party noisemakers*

Then Judah was free to buy supplies and start hammering! (as he would say) I shall spare you a picture of the precarious truck and trailer loaded with supplies, but here is a piece of wisdom: don’t bite off more than you can chew. You may be left driving home at less than 30 mph because you bought more than your rig can handle well.

Isn’t life such a neat adventure? I’m so thankful for the path God is leading us down. And I’m especially thankful for my man and how he’s building this house for us! Stay tuned for part 2!

 

Why I Want to be a Farmer, Not a Homesteader

There’s lots of hype in my internet circles about homesteaders. And I get it; I respect homesteaders like crazy. They have a huge range of skills and many of them could literally survive with no outside contact for a long time. But that’s not the life I want; I want to be a farmer. Let’s start by defining our terms, shall we?

homesteader is someone (or a family) whose life is characterized by self-sufficiency. Some are even off-grid. Most homesteaders raise their own meat, eggs, milk, vegetables, and more while also making things like soap, cheese, quilts, etc. They typically don’t aim to raise enough of these products to sell, but rather to support themselves. Homesteaders are very independent.

farmer is someone (or a family) who raises food – crops and/or animals – to help support themselves and others. (note that this is my definition for the purpose of this post, not an all-encompassing definition) They often specialize in a number of products which they sell and make an income from. They do not live a self-sufficient lifestyle, but rather an interdependent lifestyle.

20160726_134132.jpg

20160726_140619.jpg

20160726_105942.jpg

While it is wonderful to have a huge range of skills and to know that you and you could support your family with no outside help…. I believe that people were meant to be in relationships with each other, to work together and compliment each other.

Although to a point farms (and homesteads) can and should have many enterprises going on (for example, it just makes sense that cows follow chickens to eat the luscious grass that springs up after the chickens fertilize it), it can reach a point where the farmer or homesteader is stretched too far. I would rather focus on a few enterprises – hone my skills and be the absolute best at raising those particular products – and be able to sell them for a good profit. Then I can turn around and give someone else that money in exchange for a product I can’t grow or make as efficiently as they can. Both sides benefit, and neither is stretched too thin by trying to do everything ourselves. See?

20160821_131419

Another awesome thing about farming is the community aspect. As a farmer, I will be interacting with people while I sell my products and buy theirs. Relationships can be built and friendships formed. Homesteaders can and do interact with the community and form friends! But there’s something special about providing your friends with quality food and knowing they trust you and really, really like what you’re selling. There’s something special about supporting a friend’s new farming venture by buying their products.

20160709_080057_006

I’m all for mastering new skills, such as making soap or maple syrup. But I’m also excited about buying those products from someone else who makes them with quality and skill! You see, I want to be a farmer, not a homesteader.

How to Make Herbal Salve

20160920_214109.jpg

Two of my favorite medicinal (topical) herbs are plantain and comfrey. And that’s basically what the above picture is – the healing properties of plantain and comfrey in a portable, stable form! What are the healing properties of plantain and comfrey, you ask? Good question.

Plantain reduces inflammation and acts as an astringent, making it wonderful for use on stings and insect bites, as well as rashes and burns. It is commonly known as a weed, and can be found almost anywhere.

Comfrey is also known as “knit bone” because of its ability to speed healing of wounds by encouraging new cell growth, as well as being anti-inflammatory and acting as an astringent.

Herbal salves are awesomeness. They condense all the healing goodness of the herbs into concentrated, spreadable green stuff that’s easy to store and use. Who wouldn’t want that? Here’s how you can make a healing herbal salve!

Healing Herbal Salve

You’ll need:

  • a crock pot
  • glass jars
  • cheescloth or another kind of fabric for straining
  • olive oil
  • vitamin E oil
  • beeswax
  • dried or fresh herbs
  1. Gather and dry whatever medicinal herbs you have/want to use. You can do your own research, but some ideas to get you started (besides plantain and comfrey) are echinacea, jewelweed, or calendula. You will need a lot of dried herbs.
  2. Crumble the herbs and fill a jar 2/3 full. Unless you have a super tall crock pot, you’ll probably have to use pint jars so they can be nearly submerged in the crock pot. Side note: the full jar in the picture is probably too full. 20160916_183410
  3. Fill the jar with olive oil so it has about 1 inch of headspace, and put a lid on it.20160916_183814.jpg
  4. Place it on a fabric scrap or rag in the bottom of a crock pot (I’ve always done this, but I’m not sure if it’s necessary… that’s what happens when you learn a skill when you’re 13… six years later I’m not sure if I made that part up or not.  😉 ) and place the jar inside. Fill the crock pot with water and heat on low for 2-3 days. Keep the water level as high as you can. The water should not be boiling, as this diminishes the properties of the herbs. This is called infusing your oil. 20160916_184104.jpg
  5. Let the infused oil cool a bit, and strain out the herbs with cheesecloth. 20160920_201128.jpg Discard the herbs and put the oil in a double boiler so it maintains a warm temperature.
  6. Add a dash of vitamin E oil and beeswax. A rough estimate of how much beeswax to use is 1 oz beeswax for 8 oz infused oil. 20160920_203638.jpgWhen the beeswax is melted into the oil, take a spoonful out and let it cool in the fridge for a few minutes. Once it is set up, test the consistency. If it’s too soft, add more beeswax. If it’s too hard.. either make more infused oil to balance out the amount of beeswax you put in, or deal with it. From experience, hard salve is better than runny salve! You can melt hard salve with your finger, but runny salve can escape from tins and get pretty messy. Keep testing until you get it right!
  7. Once the consistency in your cooled spoonful is right, pour the salve into labeled containers to cool. And that’s it! This stuff seriously works, guys. Go have some adventures and know that your salve has got your back in case you get a tad too adventuresome. 😉

20160920_214109.jpg

20160920_214843.jpg

Of Saving Seeds and Preventing Seeds

 

9/3/16 – 9/14/16 | Headlines of the past week and a half:

  • Making pumpkin pie
  • Learning how to save tomato seeds
  • Mowing the buckwheat so it won’t go to seed

In case you missed it, last week I made a delicious pumpkin pie from a huge pumpkin Jan and Andy gave me! 20160909_125252

I’ve also been saving seeds for next year. Here you can see two types of tomato seeds in little glass jars (I typically have the paper towels on top of them but I set them underneath for the picture). This is to ferment the seeds, which is the most common way of saving tomato seeds. On the plate I have seeds that are drying out after fermenting. Then the big seeds are pumpkin seeds from this project. But perhaps what I’m the most proud of is my little seed packets I made! They’re exactly the size of regular seed packets.

20160913_132019.jpg

Since I didn’t want the buckwheat I planted in the new garden spot to go to seed and become a weed next year, it had to be mowed. The only (working) mowers we have are a push mower and tractors with bush hogs, so Judah mowed it with the tractor. And I may or may not have tagged along… 😉

20160911_184146.jpg

20160911_183918.jpg

20160911_184043.jpg

And now for the chickens! Here they’re enjoying their non-GMO grain, hanging out in the shade, or pecking for bugs in the grass. Now that’s life! (for a chicken, that is)

20160914_140405.jpg

20160914_141033.jpg

These guys will be ready for processing the weekend of October 15th, so if you’re near Logan County, Ohio and would like to order some shoot me a line on my contact page!

Pumpkin Pie!

If I handed you a pie pumpkin, would you know what to do with it? Yes of course you would, because you’re a smart individual who can follow my directions and turn it into pumpkin puree. Awesome, good for you. End of story.

20160908_123039

Right?

Oh, it’s not the end of the story? Hm. Pumpkin pie, you say. Interesting idea… 😉

Yes, pumpkin pie. Made with a real pumpkin (because you may or may not know that oftentimes canned “pumpkin” is actually another kind of squash). Many pumpkin pie recipes call for canned pumpkin, evaporated milk, and white sugar, so I was super excited to have one that uses cream and honey! Also, it tastes awesome.

Pumpkin Pie

From The Prairie Homestead

  • 2 c. pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t. sea salt
  • 3 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 unbaked 9″ pie crust

20160909_113731[1].jpg

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine pumpkin, honey, vanilla, salt, and pumpkin pie spice.
  3. Mix in the cream then gently beat in the eggs.
  4. Pour into an unbaked 9″ pie shell, cover the crust with foil or a pie shield, and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 20-30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  5. Cool and serve with (real) whipped cream!

20160909_125252.jpg

20160909_125402.jpg