Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Into Every Life a Little Rain Must Fall

This title seemed appropriate both literally and figuratively this week. I could not get this line out of my head as I lay in bed listening to the rain pound the top of our rig. It made me wonder…. I know that is a famous line or quote from somewhere but from where? When I Googled it, two responses come up.

The poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow "The Rainy Day" is probably the most well known but the song by Queen "Rain Must Fall " also contains the same line.

Regardless, it was raining and that's not the end of the world right? Well, when you combine rain with freezing temps, high winds AND you have 80 feet of 16' walls getting pounded by said rain and winds it is very stressful. All I could picture in my head was ice accumulating on the wall making it top heavy and toppling like a stack of Lincoln Logs. At 3:00am I could not stand it anymore, grabbed a flashlight and went outside to check it out. They were still standing. They had a thin layer of ice on them but not as bad as I imagined. I shook the walls and they did not move. I guess the extra bracing in anticipation of the storm was a good idea. Whew!

The area was forecasted to get anywhere from 3-24"s of snow depending on where in the hills you lived, for us it was 3-8"s. But by the end of the storm we got less than an inch. Areas just north of us got over 20"s! The bad news is that we froze up. We figured that would happen, anytime the temps hit the low teens we tend to freeze up. We had no water for 2 days before it warmed up and thawed out again.

We lost three days this week due to weather, 4 if you count the day we had to re-plumb a wall that we had troubling squaring and wasted a day playing with it. We are now double bracing both out and diagonally as well as sheeting the walls right away so another one does not get away from us. As a result I had to amend the progress blueprint I posted last week as I had anticipated getting a couple more sections done last week before our week two was complete.
Week 1 is yellow, week 2 green, week 3 blue, week 4 (so far) is red 
Our figurative rain happened on Monday. It was a big day, we were putting up our last sidewall! Barb cut all the lumber while I put it together. We had been looking forward to this day for a long time. Even longer with the weather delays. After getting it all put together we hooked it up to the boom on the skidsteer and raised it into place. Room is a lot tighter since all the other walls were up. We got one end in place while Barb was guiding the other end in place. I was setting that end down one more inch when all of a sudden the opposite end let loose and the other end let loose and the entire wall crashed to the ground! Luckily it fell opposite of me and Barb was positioned at the end so it missed her completely.

We stood there and stared at the wall asking ourselves "WTH just happened?" Several studs and the top plates shattered into pieces upon impact but the rest of the wall was intact. No pictures, we were in panic/repair mode. Rather than piece it back together we decided to tear the entire thing apart and rebuild it. An hour later we were raising it again and got it into place.
East side walls up! (That section that is not sheeted is what fell)

West side walls up!
After bracing it we called it a day, went inside, pulled out the bottle of tequila and toasted to our success or luck, whatever you want to call it.

Bottoms up!
 Regardless, we are thrilled with our progress after three weeks. We have all the sidewalls up, and the garage end wall so far in week 4. Speaking of the garage end wall, at 29' wide and 16' tall it was our  biggest build and raise so far.
 When we originally had the house drawn up we had a 10'x8' garage door for vehicles and a 14'x14' door for the 5th wheel. Yesterday we decided to change them to two 12'x14' doors so we could fit both the 5th wheel and camper (when we get the camper) in the garage.

Those are some big doors!
We try to get out with the dogs when we are done for the day, somedays we are just too tired but they sure enjoy it when we do! Daisy walks the road while Dakota runs through the grass looking for the ball we throw for her.

Our deer friends continue to visit us everyday, the original 3 mule deer show up every morning as soon as they hear us out there working. Then we have another group  of 10 that show up every other day. Two of them still have their antlers as of the April 14th!

When we saw him a couple days later the antlers were gone
One evening after working we drove over to Kevin's place to pick up a few things. I did not bring the camera since it was a quick trip. What do we run into? A herd of elk! We took one picture with the phone which did not turn out too bad.....
A couple of these elk still had their antlers too
You may have noticed a new addition to our sidebar. If not, it is the picture of Mount Rushmore and provides a link to blog posts detailing some of our favorite Black Hills experiences. We will be adding to this section throughout the year as  we continue to get out on adventures in the area. Since we are going to be spending so much time here this year we want to get out and have some fun continuing to explore the area and provide a quick link of our adventures for anyone planning on visiting the area. 

Last but not least for those of you coming to visit us this year we had some rock and gravel delivered for the driveway so the worst of the ruts are taken care of! 
Its been a long 10 days but we are continuing to plug away, Kevin and Cheryl arrive on the 26th and we hope to get some trusses up. Lots of work to be done so we are ready for that!

Friday, April 5, 2019

Week 2 of the Barndominium Build!

Board after board, hour after hour, day after day we continue to build. After each wall goes up we take a break and admire our work, imagining what it will look like when all the work is done and we are just relaxing in our new home. If we don’t do that it just becomes too overwhelming, you have to keep your eye on the prize and carry on.

This week was all about tall walls. We were pretty nervous about them. Short walls are one thing, we can lift them up ourselves and control them from falling over. But tall walls are a whole other story. Our first tall wall we were going to put up was the kitchen/dining room wall. 18’ wide x 16’ tall. It took a lot longer to build than anticipated as it has two windows and a sliding glass French door.
It took us most of the day to build and we were just getting ready to put it up when we realized that due to the configuration of the surrounding landscape we would not have room to maneuver the skidsteer  around to put the opposite wall up if we put this wall up first.

So we used the skidsteer to move that wall out of the way and started on the opposite wall. Since this wall was 25’ wide and 16’ tall we split it up into two sections. The first section included the a window over the stairs and the front door. After building it we took a break for lunch, set up a couple of cameras and videoed our first tall wall raising! How did it go? Well, you will have to watch the video below to find out. Don't worry, we sped up the action 6x so it is not as long as it actually took.
Our confidence high we started on the other section of the 25' wall and got it done just before quitting time. We would have to wait to raise it until the next day. But.....while we were building it I looked off down the valley and saw three mule deer watching us curiously from about 100 yards away. These were the first mule deer we have seen since being back and wondered if they were Barb's friends from last year..... maybe...… So she went and got some corn and shook the scoop and they came a runn'in! 
From that point on they hung around the rest of that day and everyday since. They just sit up on the hill and watch the strange humans play with wood.

Not to be left out, the whitetails visited us on frosty morning before we started working. 
We have not seen the turkeys on our property yet, they may have gotten the word that archery season opens this weekend. 

The next day we got the other section of the living room wall up......
Then we turned around and put up the kitchen/dining room wall we had set aside the day before.
We finished out the rest of the week building the garage walls. 

Here is where we are after two weeks. The yellow lines are week ones progress, green this week. After getting the opposite garage wall up I expect visible progress to slow down next week as it will include more tedious tasks like sheeting, top plates and prepping for the loft floor system. 

n our off time Barb has been scouring the internet for a used Lance camper for our next Alaska trip. She is looking for an 11 ½ foot model somewhere in the 2004-2012 range so if you know anyone out there who has one they want to sell let us know! One thing we forgot to do this week was take our day off and have fun, we will have to make sure to do that next week! 

Friday, March 29, 2019

1 Year, 11 Months in the Making.........

What an exciting week, after years of dreaming and planning we finally got our first wall up on our house!  April of 2017 we bought our 45 acres in the Black Hills, that fall we had the septic and a cistern installed as well as the building site graded, the summer of 2018 we put in the underground plumbing and a few weeks later concreted. Now, we have our first wall up!

It is going to be a long slow build as we are doing everything ourselves and as we can pay for it. After our 3 week apprenticeship at Kevin’s we felt dangerously confident. Thankfully before Kevin left we squared out the building perimeter with chalk lines.
Squaring up the building
He even went as far as laying out each of the interior walls so we know exactly where to put each of the walls. We followed that up by marking each of the corners with permanent marker in case the rain washed away the chalk lines.
Laying out the walls
Idiot proof right? Well, lets hope so! One confidence builder was the fact that all the plumbing lines I installed last year hit exactly in the walls like they were supposed to!
All the plumbing pipes fell into the 2x6 wall, Whew!
Our confidence rapidly dwindled as soon as we started on the first wall. Luckily Kevin is just a phone call away and his house is just down the road so we can run over and answer many of our questions just by looking at what we did at his house.
First wall up! The girls are looking through the bedroom windows
After we got this first wall up we called it a day not wanting to push our luck or our temperament. Do you know what it is like building a house with your wife standing over your shoulder watching you pound every nail? I would not recommend home building as part of couples therapy. We have had a few incidents (okay more than a few) but overall we work pretty well as a team.  

That night and the next morning we just could not help looking out the back window of the rig at our one lonely wall. So far our bodies are holding up the only thing that is giving us trouble are our hands. Both my and Barb's hands are tingling pretty much constantly, probably from overuse, we will have to deal with it as that is not going to change anytime soon.

The next day was Two Wall Tuesday when we got the wall between the garage and house up as well as the wall between the bedroom and bathroom!

Wall between house and garage

Bedroom wall up
Wednesday we worked all day on the plumbing wall in the bathroom. It was a slow and tedious wall.
The bathroom looks like a long tunnel!
Thursday we worked on doors and closets putting in the door frames for the bathroom and bedroom as well as the closets in the bedroom.
Bathroom and Bedroom doors

Bedroom closets
By the end of the day we are pretty tuckered out.
 I collapsed right on the foundation while the dogs at least wait until we got back inside.

Over the next few months we will continue to chip away, wall by wall hoping to get it weather tight by winter. Here is a peek of the blueprint and although we are making some minor changes along the way this is pretty much what it will look like when it is all done in...….. God only knows!
The highlighted areas are what we got done this week

Loft overlooking the great room
On one of our ventures out we stopped by the neighbor who is a cattle rancher. He informed us he will be moving the cattle into the Jordan’s pasture which abuts our property. Knowing there was a wire down on the fence Barb and I set out to repair it before the cattle arrived. Finding the break I grabbed one end of the wire, pulled it and reached out with my other hand grabbing the other wire so I could pull them together and splice them. One thing I did not consider…… was that by grabbing a wire in each hand I completed the circuit of the electric fence that I forgot was on!  After screaming like a little girl I promptly drove the 4 wheeler over to the fencer, turned it off and completed the repair. On the bright side, Barb really likes by new afro!

All work and no play makes from a grumpy couple so made sure we got out and did something other than build. Barb chose fishing so off we went to our favorite fishing hole. Although we did not get skunked, the fish did not really cooperate so there was no trout for dinner that night!

Even though the trout weren't biting, the scenery was beautiful!
Friday was forecasted for rain  and snow so we ventured into Rapid City to Black Hills Builders Home Show where we walked each of the aisles getting some ideas...… For some reason she kept gravitating towards the hot tubs, we now have brochures from every hot tub vendor that was there.

But she did get a couple cool ideas and we saw a display of a log that showed how many boards they can get out of it that was pretty interesting.
She wants this in our laundry room but thinks she can make it
Pretty cool huh?
We are thrilled with our progress after 4 days, tomorrow the weather improves so we will be back out there and start building again!

Saturday, March 23, 2019

The Barndominium Build Continues!

Three weeks into Kevin’s build we are making great progress! Beyond learning a lot about the building process we have realized far more. It is something I guess we knew but never really put a lot of thought into it. This realization is that there is no better feeling than helping someone be successful or realizing their dreams. It is part of what energizes us. Whether it be at The Farm, Pasha Lake or now helping Kevin build his house. Helping someone you care about be successful is very rewarding. Yes, the work can be hard but it is well worth it.

A little over a week ago we had all the first floor framing up along with 3 of the 4 garage/horse stall walls.
Over the past two weeks we started the walls and decking on the 2nd level.....
First section of the 2nd level!
Kevin putting the top plate on

A section of trusses going up!

2nd level decking down
Next up was trusses and roofing on the wings......

Unfortunately we did not meet Kevin’s goals for his 3 weeks here. Cold temperatures and 2 snow days really hampered progress.

This is where the house sits today, roofing and waterproofing on one of the wings and the rest of the house ready for trusses  and roofing. If we had those several lost snow days back we would had all the trusses, roofing and windows in but now we will have to wait until sometime in April.

Speaking of snow, in the past 10 days we went from a winter wonderland……
.…to a muddy mess with very little snow.

So what does one do when you run across a road covered in water? You plow right through it of course! 

Good way to wash off the mud!
Good news bad news. It is nice to have the warmer weather but there is mud everywhere! We cannot get up our driveway without 4 wheel drive and some of the roads are totally flooded. 
One of several muddy spots on our driveway
We have had a couple heavy truck deliveries at our place the past week. We had 1250 gallons of water delivered for our cistern, our first two loads of lumber for our house build as well as a 500 gallon propane tank. We try to time the deliveries for first thing in the morning when the ground is still frozen but that is not always possible resulting in huge ruts in the driveway. 
No more running to town for propane every couple of days!

The lumber trucks certainly did not help the driveway!
The cool news is that our water hole that has been dry the last couple years is now totally full of water! I doubt it will stay long but it is nice to have for a little while. We are going to look into lining it with bentonite so it will hold water year round. 

With Kevin now gone things have quieted down a bit and we did get out on one adventure when we stopped by a small school house/church/cemetery from the 1880's out in the middle of nowhere. The surrounding area is virtually untouched and you could almost imagine kids walking from the surrounding hills to go to school
An inordinate number of headstones just said "Baby Smith" or some other last name.  Times must have been very tough back then. While many of the dates on the headstones were from the late 1800's and early 1900's there were a couple as recent as the last couple years.

We are going to take a couple of down days and then start our house hitting it pretty hard. As a whole, the thought of taking a pile of lumber and building our own house from the ground up is overwhelming. But we are going to take it wall by wall taking our time so it does not become too daunting.  By our next post we should have a couple of walls up!