Friday, June 27, 2014

Our Building Story Part 9 - Last Trip For 2013 And First For 2014

 In November, Steve and I made another trip with just the two of us. We had bought engineered hardwood flooring for the main floor of the house and we wanted to bring it up so it could "acclimatize".
We just stayed a few days and we planned to be back by the end of the month for hunting with the boys and to put the flooring in.

I would still go on my early morning walks...I enjoy coming back to the cabin to see smoke coming out of the chimney and anticipate the warmth within.  

This turned out blurry, but there were FANTASTIC northern lights one of the first nights. 

Steve went out a couple afternoons to hunt deer. He saw some, but not big enough to shoot. 

Cosy and warm. :) 

We put some LED lights under the cabinets which really helped. Until we get solar power in, we are using propane lighting and they are so load and inconvenient to light.  The LED lights were motion sensitive - you just waved below them to turn them on and they had an auto-shut-off after 30 min. 

The third day we were there is snowed overnight. The forecast was calling for more so we decided to get home right away. We had very treacherous driving until we got south of Edmonton. 

The last tree living out of four I transplanted into our yard. It is such a funny, gangly thing. I was going to cut it off, but I felt too sorry for it. 

So we went home, but our plans to be back in a couple weeks changed. We got a call from friends asking if we wanted to go to Cuba with them - they had found a GREAT sale.
This is just what we hoped to do after turning up the cruise last year so jumped at it. 
We had a wonderful 8 days in Cuba!
It was a perfect 20th anniversary trip!

The winter of 2013/2014 was very cold with heavy snowfall. That hampered us getting back up to our land that winter. But Steve was not idle. He made me this beautiful table for a kitchen island. The legs are out of the diamond willow we harvested on our land and the top is a pine slab. 

 That ends our 2013 season. We did not make nearly as many trips as the year before and to be honest, we felt a little discouraged about ever being able to move to our land. 
Steve had a man interested in buying his business, but that fell through. 
Our kids were less and less excited about leaving our church family and their jobs.
We were renting our current house, renting Steve's wood shop, paying utilities on both, plus trying to build our own place without going in debt....very stretching indeed!


Mid May 2014, we were able to make a family trip up to the house to do some finishing. Our oldest daughter stayed home because of work, but the rest of piled into the van, loaded the cargo trailer and headed north. 
We were not sure if the field would be dry enough to get in with our van and I was anticipating parking at the neighbours and carrying our stuff in. However, when we arrived, we were delighted to find it wet but firm enough to get in and out easily! YEA!
Everything was in order and just the way we left it the fall before.

The first few evenings, we were treated to the amazing spectacle of a Sandhill Crane migration! The huge birds flew over in groups of thousands, filling the air with their calls. They would fly in lines like this and then form up in a cloud that would turn and twist on itself. Truly an amazing sight! 

Another evening, our young son saw a little muskrat scoot under our trailer. 
The kids enjoyed watching him for a while. 

Our main job was putting in the hardwood flooring we had brought up last fall. Our oldest son, our one daughter, Steven and myself worked together on it and I found it to be a really fun job. 
The flooring is engineered hardwood (basically a tongue and groove plywood with 5-7mm of hardwood on top). We chose to go with engineered because with wood heat and a crawl-space under the house, we were concerned that the changed in temperature and moisture may cause regular hardwood to warp. We love the warmth and beauty of wood, so engineered seemed the best choice.
We ended up getting a dark stained oak with some blond streaks in it. It also has saw chatter and other marks in it - making it a good match with the modern-rustic finishing we already had. 

Steve cut a plywood form around the fireplace in an abstract wave. 
We have decided to go with small-medium sized river rock around the fire place and pebbles on the floor. The abstract pattern will be reminiscent of a shore-line.

Looking into the kitchen area - with my island now in place. :)

Steve was in his element on this part of the project! He loves finishing and details and he had fun working on his own project for a change. 

Looking down from the landing.

We also brought up the finished fir doors that Steve and our son worked on over the winter.
Steve had all the jamb and moulding pre-finished.

From the other side of that door - with the closet door beside it. I LOVE THIS CORNER!

Steve had enough time to put in the first of the stair rails - the one between the landing and the kitchen.
This stopped my little ones from their nasty habit of stepping from the landing onto my kitchen counter!!!

Island in place! I just love the colours and the different woods. 

Railings from the stair side. 

My littlest sweetie having her bath in a Rubbermade. :)

She enjoys the windows upstairs - I'm not sure I like her standing up there!!!

One of the last things I did was hang a bird-feeder outside my kitchen window. 
Somehow this speaks "Home" to me. 

Well, it is late June 2014 when I am writing this and we have heard that the caterpillars are back at our place,  but less than half as many as last year. That is good news. 

We are also seriously perusing moving this season. Not sure where that will lead us yet...but we are trying.

I am now officially caught up posting to where our building process is at present. 
From now on, I'll be branching out into different aspects of our journey. Choosing simple can get very complicated! We are always course-correcting and re-evaluating our choices along the way. 
I hope to share next how we came to make the choices we have and why we are going the direction we are.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Our Building Story Part 8 - The Ups and Downs of 2013

In June of 2013, we stopped at our land for a day before continuing on to a weekend singing engagement in Ft. St. John, BC. After the jamboree, we would stop stay at our place again for several days before heading home. 
We brought up an old couch and love-seat with us to make it seem more homey. They were much nicer than lawn chairs!

As always, one of our first projects is to get the grass cut down around the cabin. 

I brought up some pieces of my herbs and bushes that I had planted around our rental house. 

Like I mentioned before with our last trip, we had noticed tent caterpillars around our place.
Well, by the June they were a full out plague!

This is how the trees looked at the beginning of our trip. By the time we left a week later, there were no leaves left at all!

The first evening there was beautiful, but the next day was a little rainy. The kids enjoyed seeing the books and games that we had left at the cabin from our last trip and they were well entertained. 

The cross-bars in the upstairs even made good chin-up bars for the boys. :)

We had a good trip into BC and saw some country we had not seen before.
The jamboree was over Sunday evening and we decided to head back to our cabin rather than wait till the next day. That meant arriving in the middle of a very rainy night. Our driveway isn't finished and we weren't sure we could even get in with our van and trailer, but Steve hit the gas and we bounced and splashed our way through the field for 300m before sloshing to a halt at our cabin. 
We dragged off to bed and woke the next morning to more and more rain and more and more caterpillars!
Looking out the top windows into the cut yard and a whole lot of water!
A willow tree nearly covered with caterpillars. 

A couple of buckets left out soon filled with water and caterpillars

Picnic table at a nearby camp ground. 

To say that the conditions discouraged us is an understatement. Of course, a year later we now laugh at the whole thing, but at the time it was very depressing. 

With all the rain, we spent most of our time indoors. We didn't work on an new projects this trip - just reading, visiting, playing games and taking a few walks.

All the rubber boots lined up.

Keeping entertained...

When the rain stopped, we had some nice walks. The trees looked like winter but the grass and bushes were green. There is an owl on that fence post.

The older boys were out walking more than anyone and they came home with some lovely pictures of beauty they found in spite of the caterpillars. :)

The last couple days before we left it was not raining, but our trail through the field was too wet to get our van and trailer out together. We managed to get the van out with some serious pushing. :) We then left it parked it in a neighbour's driveway. We unloaded the trailer of anything we could carry, re-adjusted the load  to be right over the axle, and then PUSHED the cargo trailer out. Two would have to lift the tongue of the trailer and pull. Everyone else pushed from behind. It took no small effort and we were all muddy, tired and a little grumpy by the end...but we were out. The morning we left, we all made several trips carrying out the rest of our stuff and finally hit the road.
Steve was especially discouraged this trip. He had put SO MUCH labour into this place, and all of our money....and it seemed like we had built in the middle of some wasteland full of water and creep-crawlies.


We didn't make another trip until August. 
No doubt we were discouraged with project, but we also had work to get caught up with at home. 
 The evening we arrived was beautiful!

The next morning we were ready to get to work. We had decided that we would expand our deck to to around the east side of the house. Until we had one, we didn't realize how important a deck could be. It gave us a clean place to set supplies; it acted like a buffer between the outside dirt and the indoors; it was also really great to sit on to enjoy an evening. :)
One of our boys having his coffee on the deck, sitting on the supplies for the new part. 

The trees had put out a second set of leaves and all that remained of the caterpillars was the sticky cocoons everywhere. We didn't even have any moths later??? Not sure where they all went, but hoping they don't come back next year!
Cocoons all over the out house. 

Steven and our son working on the deck foundation. 

Another project Steve and our boys did last winter was making all the diamond willow railings for the stairway. We brought them up this trip, but it may be a while before we get them installed. 

Progress! It was looking good. Steve and our son had done this themselves (with a little help from me and the younger kids ) Our two oldest stayed home because of work obligations...they were coming with relatives for a few days in the middle of the week. 

I went to town and got this load of lumber. It meant driving home with the doors open and tied. Never thought I would do such a thing. ;)

The older kids were now up and even our daughter helped build the deck. 

We developed a routine of working till early afternoon and then spending the rest of the day at the lake. :)
It was gorgeous weather!

Just finishing up the deck... 

Enjoying working together. 

And playing together...

Beautiful sunset almost due north - taken from my kitchen window.

So now our older kids had gone back to work and we were deciding if we should stay a few more days or just head home. 

We had an agreement with our neighbours that they could put there cattle on our pasture in exchange for them doing the fencing. they had run posts and wires around most of the land but the calves were not deterred. They would just walk through and were getting in around our house. Steve thought the best thing would be to start building a wood fence around our yard - something we had planned to do anyway. 
So we were staying a few more days to work on that. 

We were pleasantly surprised how nice the fence made the yard look. We got the north and half the west side done...the rest would wait till next year. The neighbours put temporary metal posts and page wire the rest of the way around the yard and that *mostly* kept the calves out. :)

Steve surveying his handiwork. :)  
This time when we left, we felt quite encouraged. In fact we would go home and push really hard on moving by fall. We would get a mortgage lined up in order to build the addition and finish things  like the driveway, gas line, water cistern, and solar equipment. We did our best, but in the end we realized that it was not a good time for our family to move. The kids had needs that we could meet where we were. So we put off our plans for another year. We still made some trips to work...but not to move. 


Here are some extra nature pictures from my walks around the land and from our time at the lake.