New Helpers.

Josh is a million miles from the ground, as he works on the guesthouse sheathing.

Barb is working to create the cold frame.


While the Sun Shines!

With glorious weather, it was a great weekend for vegetable garden preparation. Ed finished up the chicken wire to keep the rabbits out. Erin and Brad started working on the cold frame. Fran continued to mulch and work on soil prep.

Yesterday we planted six fruit trees. Four apples -- Corail, Enterprise, Braeburn & William's Pride. Two plums -- Early Laxton and Seneca. Plus six blueberries (3 Bluecrop and 3 Bluegold) were planted in pots, waiting for the garden to be ready for them. And, one grape (Himrod Seedless) was planted as well. Plus the gates were installed. Last Thursday and Friday the pathways were mulched.

Quite the transformation given that just a few weeks ago we had a sea of mud.

Now, back to building...

Cold Frame

Brad & Erin work to set the posts to install the recycled metal doors for the front wall of the soon-to-be cold frame.

Kim & Tom

The Wire Goes Up.

North fence strung.

The Fence Posts Go In

Today, Sunday, was the day of the vegetable garden. We rented an auger to make the post hole digging easier and we weren't disappointed. That part of the fence went very quickly. The tapping in and setting the corner braces took a bit longer. Tomorrow we hope to finish up with the wire and gates so we'll be deer proof by Tuesday.


Bird's Eye View

This view of our new vegetable garden is from the upper level of the Barn. The fence will go up this weekend. The tiny plants you see in the foreground are strawberries. The two stakes centered and toward the back are marking the approximate location of the walk-in cold frame.



Sustainability means “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

We ponder and question, how can we put more buildings on the land without adding to drainage problems, compaction, chemical pollution and excessive use of resources? More habitat is destroyed unless we can preserve or reestablish it when our home is completed. How do we touch more lightly on the earth? We have been careful throughout and still we grimace from time-to-time as we purchase some item we know to be environmentally risky, often necessitated by code. Or, when our heavy equipment compacts the earth because its rental coincided with the rain.

Our use of recycled lumber is huge (probably close to 90%), and other recycled materials have been used as well. Nevertheless, plywood and chipboard are needed for structural reasons, are not recycled, and contain nasty glues. The paint available on the island is not as environmentally friendly as we’d like but to drive to Seattle to purchase better paint results in more gas usage and means we’re not shopping locally. Trade offs! We frequently purchase used items – appliances, doors and windows, siding – in an attempt to reuse but the trips to the hardware store are still endless. We can burn through thousands of dollars so quickly it’s like using $5 bills for fire starter.

As we observe other building sites we do feel proud. Our waste pile is tiny compared with the typical construction project, with their piles and piles of unused materials that will be hauled to the dump. Our project has little construction waste. We use the recycled lumber down to the 6” scraps, which we then use for firewood or birdhouses. The buildings were designed on a 4x8 grid, so there is little cutting of plywood with the sheets going up whole. Leftover concrete is turned into garden pots. This past year we’ve been to the dump four times with 4 bags of waste each time. That’s it! All the crew’s bottles and cans are recycled. Bits and pieces of electrical are recycled. And, when it’s all over, the remaining scraps will turn into art or get mulched into the garden. Even our pulled nails sit in buckets of water so the iron-water can be used in the garden.

Still, are we sustainable? Well, yes, more than most building projects but probably not sustainable enough. With the codes and rules and regulations and dreams and desires and wants and needs we all have, it's not easy. At the present time there’s little in America that is sustainable, but there's movement by many to achieve it. Our project is far from the wasteful 5,000 sq. ft. home built directly from the lumber store. Our heating costs will be negligible and our footprint small. Our food production will be high; wildlife habitat will be restored; and the rainwater will be directed back into the aquifer. That's good.

Our friend Kurt is spending his year “Circling Home” see: http://insidepassages.blogspot.com/. Kingsolver wrote about her year of eating locally in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; and others are giving up their automobiles, air travel, beef, or large homes to do what they can for this suffering earth. We are hoping our experiment in living small and inside a town's borders will be a model of sustainability.

Our solar heat system has sensors to record the results so that others can benefit from our work. A home, similar to the one we’re building, could be adapted to modules to build more quickly and inexpensively, yet have style and livability and natural materials well beyond the typical modular home currently found on the market. We are learning and will continue to learn as we move through this home-building project. Living small in our new home will be our challenge and our adventure and our joy.

It can't be said too many times...Thanks!

Building a new home is an adventure, a responsibility, and one's total life throughout the duration. It is an all-consuming activity, especially when building is a family affair.

Our son, Brad is our designer/builder. His skills are far reaching and his energy endless. Just this past weekend, he was committed to getting the guesthouse protected from the rain. After many long days of relentless hammering, stapling, measuring, cutting and drilling, the task was accomplished!

Ed and I do whatever we can to assist. I frequently play the role of go-for-it whether "IT" is lunch, coffee, or building supplies. I'm also the landscape person, tile person, and swirl a mean paintbrush. Ed is the electrician but also frames, pushes the wheelbarrow, and keeps the money flowing. Erin and other helpers and friends fill in the cracks with various skills and strengths of great physical and emotional worth.

Good Job! Thanks!


Tar Paper

The things we do -- Fran way up on the roof, sweeping
and hammering.

Brad rolled out and stapled the tar paper; Fran checked for secure staples. Our second building is now protected from the rain. Two down; one to go.

Soon -- another dry zone!

Erin adding purlins.

Brad trimming the purlins.

Bless our Neighbors!

Fred, with Kramer's help, delivers lattes.

Fred & Brad carry on an animated discussion on the roof top.

Ed, Fran & Fred discuss the landscaping.

Even more framing

Ed works on framing.

Putting Up The Walls

Erin, Fran & Ed surveying the guesthouse.

Erin, Ed & Brad working on framing.

Ed & Brad & the new wall.

More Roof Work...

Brad and Gena work hard all day Friday to get the roof on the guesthouse. If you enlarge this picture (by clicking twice), you'll see the hail storm they're working in.


Working the Land

The pond has been getting raked and refined as we prepare to place the liner. To the far left you can see the SE corner of the guesthouse. The ferns in the foreground were planted last week.

Guesthouse from tip to tip

The full roof with rafters and purlins is now close to complete and the sheathing has begun. Soon the guesthouse will be dry.