Sunday, April 28, 2019

And the Award Goes to.....

The tourist season has begun in the Black Hills! Although the official start is after Memorial Day when schools are out for the summer and families with kids flock to The Hills. The warmer weather has brought an increase in traffic on the roads, restaurants and businesses. We too have had an increase in visitors.

The award for first visitor of 2019 goes to......Doug and Jan Bakken! Residing from our home state of Wisconsin. They (and by “they” I mean Doug) have been following our blog for years so when their travels brought them to the Black Hills they reached out. Interesting note, they are from the small town of Roberts in western Wisconsin where we have some good friends as well.
Doug and Jan out at our place
They came out to our place on Monday afternoon, we gave them a tour of the house before heading to dinner at Woolley’s down in Hot Springs. This is the third time we have been to Woolley’s and have had good food each time.

Upon returning back to our place our mule deer friends were there to greet us and Jan got a chance to feed them.
Doug returned to our place to help with the build for a few hours Wednesday morning. We met again that night at the Hitchrail for burger night. Great meeting you guys, stop and see us again sometime!

Next up is the award for Most Unexpected Phone Call. Sitting in our rig the phone rigs with a 701 area code. Since all of our farm friends are programmed into our phone we did not know who would be calling us from North Dakota. Imagine our surprise when we discovered it was long-lost but good friends Dan and Bonnie! We last saw them in October 2014 when we stopped but their place outside of Horace, ND. Since then they had moved (twice) and we lost touch with them.

They called to say that they were coming to the Black Hills to look for land! Our friendship goes back 20+ years and I remember the four of us talking back then about buying land out here and retiring someday. Now some 20 years later looks like we are both making our dreams a reality!

We spent a few hours Wednesday afternoon catching up over a beer and again Thursday afternoon evening for dinner when they surprised us by saying they put an offer in on a place within 20 minutes of us! Their offer was accepted and as soon as they close they will be living just outside of Custer.
Bonnie, Dan and Barb on their new property!
In the category of Most Adorable Couple and Most Selfless Act goes to the husband and wife team of Kevin and Cheryl who after working a full day back home last Thursday, drove 10 hours overnight arriving at 7:00am for a 3 day house building spree! Day 1 we worked at their place installing the stairs leading up to their loft area and installing their pressure tank.
Kevin and I setting the other risers while Barb sets the natural timber treads in place
Day 2 was spent over at our place getting the trusses over the house section set. That was hard work. The combination of the wind, awkwardness of the 30' trusses, the height and the experience of our crew (except Kevin) made it very challenging but we did get them up!
We lifted them with the boom 3 at a time

Barb and I stayed safely on the scaffolding while Kevin scaled the trusses 
Prior to them arriving we were busy getting ready for their visit as we had to get the loft floor system in prior to their arrival. The first thing we had to do was layout and install the I-joists and LVL’s for the loft floor system
Once those were done we laid down the flooring (¾” tongue & groove).
Once that was done we had to put up the exterior walls up so we could put the trusses up when they arrived.
East side loft wall up!
West side loft wall up!
Saturday night friends Richard and Cheryl (who won the award for Goofiest Couple) joined the 4 of us for a great steak dinner at our place. Kevin and Cheryl provided some great steaks while Richard and Cheryl brought several pies for dessert. Barb changed Richard's life forever by serving him a Swamphead Brewery Midnight Oil beer that we brought back from Florida with us. Both the company and food were awesome!

Sunday we worked on the south gable end of the house which we had to frame from the ground up due to the fact there was no room to build it on the ground and lift up. We did not get the entire thing framed but we did get the hardest part done. Barb and I can finish the rest.

 But we did get a bonus project pretty much done, which was the stairs to the loft! We would not have been able to get that done without Kevin's help. It is not easy calculating the number of steps and the rise in conjunction with the timber treads we will eventually have.

With that we are 5 weeks into our project and have almost all the framing done. We still need to do the garage trusses and the loft wall between the house and the garage but we could not be happier with our progress so far!
Week 1 is yellow, week 2 green, week 3 blue, week 4 is red, week 5 purple 
That brings us to our last award for the week. So without further ado, the award for Most Exhausted and Appreciative Couple goes to yours truly who were blessed with a week filled with friends, old and new!

There was one other adventure we went on this week (and it has nothing to do with building!) but it deserves a post all to itself so stay tuned!

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!