A chronicle of Mike and Julia's adventures creating a home on the Missouri range...

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Projects beyond projects


     This month we've been immersed in the beauty of late spring, fueled by twice the average rainfall... lush, green, croaking, chirping life. The tree frogs have moved in close to our campsite (attracted by above-average bug traffic?) and start up their chorus around 7pm every evening. The whip-or-wills take over at 9pm. Early morning bird song wakes us. Then through the day we have been hearing the geese pass over honking, mostly in pairs, on their way south. Occasionally you can spot a three-some, which our friend (and bird specialist) Richard Crawford has taught us is a yet-to-be-partnered daughter goose who will stick with her parents until she finds a mate. I found this fact to be especially interesting in light of our good friend Melanie Crawford's wedding a few weeks ago. She and Dave Greene were married at the Crawford's farm surrounded by an explosion of iris and roses in the garden, and friends and family helping with a huge outpouring of gifts and support to bring it all about.  (Unfortunately I didn't get a single picture due to the fact that I was running around helping set up and attend the bride.) The event felt especially poignant since she had been living with her parents helping run the farm up until now, and now she is parting ways for Iowa with Dave. A new migration route in the making. But one highlight from the wedding-- our friend Beth brought all dozen of her hula hoops and one of our neighboring Amish family brought all dozen of their kids and the combination was wonderfully hilarious. And then they schooled a group of us in volleyball, which is apparently the Amish sport of choice, go figure. Finish all that with delicious locally-grown and raised food, lemon-curd cake made by our neighbors Brian and Teri, and dancing to a bluegrass band, and you have one perfect day.

   Anyhow, spring is heating into summer and it has sent Mike and I scurrying to finish our last round of "campsite improvement projects" to prepare for both coming guests and summer heat. We learned last summer that a cool shady spot is key to surviving the mid-day heat, so this year we cleared out the brush (read: poison ivy) under a tree grove and mulched and hammocked it into a little shady oasis for eating and hanging out.
    We have also working on some small garden beds, both at the Crawford's farm and this salad bed at our campsite, which is mostly lettaces, kale, collads, and a few tomatoes and peppers. Come to think of it, one can grow quite a lot of food in something the size of a large dining table! Hopefully we will get the most of it and not the rabbits...
     We also extended the roof of our little living shed to block out morning sun and rain, which was beginning to render it quite uncomfortable. Your can get a sense of the campsite-sprawl we have going on, laundry hanging everywhere, carpentry projects continually in the works, lots of herbs, flowers and such in whatever pots I could find to tuck in here and there, always dishes and to-do lists and books, etc.... When we start hearing a storm approaching it is quite the scramble to get everything put away and under cover before ducking into our tent, which stays (mercifully) dry!

     Another project that I have been itching to tackle for quite some time has been our jumble of a work shed. I finally built in some shelves and bike hooks and shock-le-bleur! One can actually now find the right tool when one wants it. I realize that much of what we have been working on up until now is getting our systems down. Water systems, food systems, tool systems, waste systems, laundry systems and so on. If not followed properly, we can easily find a favorite shirt chewed into shreds by mice overnight (very frustrating!)
     Another little project just completed was clearing a space and putting in a raised tent platform for guests to come and stay, and just in time since we are expecting some folks to come and help out with the main house project. Yes, that is right, we are actually re-starting the main project!

      Last, but not least, we have been moving ahead with the house in fits and starts.... This endeavor is the most daunting task of all, really of any building project I have ever tackled, mostly because it is almost unimaginable how we will actually maneuver several tons of lumber into a raised frame! We have almost all the members we need harvested and moved to the site, and we now have a raised, level, building platform constructed so that we can lay out each section and work mark each connection joint in a uniform way. However, actually moving the timbers on and off of it is the worrying aspect, a task we could easily use a 8-person team for! Still, we are finding ways and our first "lifting party" will likely be happening in the next few days. In preparation we have started on the "scarf joints" required to join the floor beams together. One very cool tool we have on loan is a mortising machine, essentially a hand-cranked boring machine. See Mike below in action. It is exciting to be finally taking chisels and hammers to wood... starting our first joints... beginning to craft this wood into our home. Send us wishes for strength and hopefully in our next update we will have something taking house-like shape!

Friday, June 14, 2013

We've got mail!

We finally have gotten around to applying for an address number and setting up a mailbox... and guess what? We got mail on the first day! That is... junk mail (ugh!) So we thought if we actually let someone know our new address, then maybe when we open our mailbox in the next few weeks there might be something more exciting than coupons in it? Here it is, hot off the presses--

Mike Patterson and Julia Jack-Scott
27660 Frontier Ln.
La Plata, MO 63549

And PS- it is Julia's birthday on the 21st :) A birthday postcard would make my day!