Saturday, January 31, 2009

Random notes from the farm

Bought some oranges from the traveling fruit man yesterday. Half a bushel for $26. I counted 50 before I gave 5 away to friends. Ripened on the tree, from California. They are delicious!

Letting the dogs out last night, I noticed something misshapen on the doormat. This was what was left this morning. Gruesome.

Keith's been gone almost 2 weeks now. I talk to him at least daily, but it's still not enough. It's just not the same without him. Supposedly the union @ the refinery is going on strike tonight and no one knows how long it will last, if they even do strike. But at least he's making some money. We're not all about money, as you know, but since he's been unemployed lately, it does help. And I worked 40 hrs this week! Exhausting when you're not used to it. Next week will probably involve some overtime, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

The dogs are missing Keith, too, and getting cabin fever because the weather's been not so great. But it is warm today, so I let them out to run off some stink. They've been keeping me company at's going to be hard to break them from sleeping on the bed when Keith gets home and we return to the tiny house.

Got a garden catalog in the mail today and drooled over the possibilities. We need a formal plan or things could get out of hand. High on the list of things to do with Keith gets back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Say so long

I took an extended lunch to drop Keith off at the bus station in Grangeville today.
And by "bus station" I mean "understaffed Zip Trip in Purgatory where customer service is but a dream." Dead behind the eyes, Bunny McIntosh calls it.
More random photos from today...

Monday, January 19, 2009


Any work on the tiny house is paused for the next few weeks while Keith goes to Montana to work... Boooo. So back I go into my parents' house for the meantime. I just don't want to deal with keeping a fire going for just myself. Etc.

Not looking forward to dropping him off at the bus station tomorrow because we tend to wither when we're apart (which is good for my waistline, but not my heart). And he's going to be gone for his 40th birthday, which really makes me sad. But he says we can celebrate when he gets back. 40 is a big one in my book, but he says he'd rather celebrate it without a number attached. He says I'll understand when I'm almost 40.

We got a screaming deal on some cedar at the mill where my mom works---enough to side the entire tiny house for $260. That's probably Project #1 when Keith gets back. Board-and-batten cedar siding, coming up. Then our house will look less like an art installation and more like an actual dwelling. We decided the barn wood was too labor intensive and dangerous when we found out how cheap the cedar was. Easy decision. And we will have enough left over to do the inside of the shower/bathroom area.

So while Keith's gone I plan to spend my free time working, reading, and working out. Not much posting.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Mid-week update

The love affair with our farming class is back on! We were off for a couple weeks because of the holidays and we skipped a couple of weeks because the presenter was boring and the topic didn't apply to us (pasture management), but this week's guest speaker was an entomologist from the U of I who talked about Intergrated Pest Management. Very. Interesting. Really! (The University of California has a really good site about IPM.) We learned how to identify the beneficial insects and where to find info on biocontrols for the pest insects. Makes us get motivated to start thinking about cover crops and getting plants started for the garden.

Keith sold his car, the Catalina, which he is a little sad about. You know, men, cars. Something about ownership and testosterone. Anyway, he got caught up on some bills and we have a little left over to start another project for the tiny house. I think we're going to finish the bedroom wall and build bookshelves, which I am very excited about. I designed them based on ones I saw online...and I want to try to make some natural paint. Milk paint? I'd eventually like to do the whole interior with some kind of DIY paint, if we find something that works. Keith's open to experimenting in small batches, so bookshelves are a perfect canvas. (Also of interest: DIY chalkboard paint, any color you want.)

My newest inspirational house/life blog find is These Days in French Life. "An American food and travel writer, a reformed shopper, now living a rural, "slow" non-consumerism life in the south of France with her French husband and daughter. Poorer than dirt, but living like kings from the riches of the earth."

Now, I thought we were doing pretty good by joining The Compact a couple of years ago and seriously limiting our purchases, especially of New Things, but they are taking it to a level that is at the same time extremely inspiring and terrifying. "August 2007-August 2008 we did not purchase anything. Only food and that was severely limited to the farmers markets and the organic co-op store. This year, we are doing an all-out No Shopping School Year: September 1st thru June 15th, we will not buy anything, not even food. We will use what abundance we have: what we preserved this summer, our garden, foraging, bartering, trading, living off what mother nature gives us."

WOW. And the tour of their house is AMAZING.

Speaking of inspiring blogs, my sister's boyfriend, Keith (or K2 as my mom calls him, fittingly) is a firefighter and mountain climber who is down in South America to climb Acancogua, the highest peak outside of Asia (22,841 ft.). He's started a blog, called Seven Up, that will track his quest to climb the highest summit on each of the continents. How impressive is that!

I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time, about Greg Mortenson, and I recommended it to K2 via Amanda since it's partly about mountain climbing and she sent a copy with him on his climb. It's not a book I would ever chosen for myself but a co-worker handed it to me and I am glad she did! Greg Mortenson has dedicated his life to promote community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Such an inspiring read. He is really a hero and someone who should be advising our goverment on how to fight the "War on Terror." Obama and Clinton especially should read it, if they haven't already. Dropping bombs is NEVER going to accomplish anything long-term, but access to education is something that can really change lives. Anyway, read the book. It's great.

I redesigned the classifieds at the newspaper (with the editor's blessing) and I'm really excited for the paper to come out tomorrow. We looked at what we could do to transform the appeal of the classifieds, long known to be the most boring part of any paper. Options like Craigslist and the internet in general are really drawing revenue away from the classifieds and the newspaper industry has been dying in general, so we brainstormed and decided since we're printing them in color when we have a short paper (which is lately), we'd do a whole reformat and offer color photos/logos/screens/etc. Each category is grouped together (instead of traditional columns) and a color graphic for illustration... I'll try to post a photo. Probably not all that exciting to anyone who isn't a newspaper or design nerd, but it's nice to have a challenge and feel like you're really improving a product like your hometown newspaper.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Window Wall

(Click on the photo for a larger view.)

Another project completed and marked off the list.
Another thing that makes our house seem that much more OURS.
(Disregard the visqeen wall treatment--that's an upcoming project.)

Although originally we planned the window wall for aesthetics only, we've figured out it's also going to work as a heat block since there used to be about about a 20º difference in temperature between the two sides of the bed. Mostly we've been swapping sides so neither one of us dies of dehydration in the night, but these windows direct the heat down around toward the foot of the bed.

We still make the dogs sleep on the floor... at least until the fire dies out and it starts to cool down. They're so abused.

napping during construction of the window wall

Also, my dad cut us a piece of expanded metal to put in the bottom of the firebox. I was really suspicious of that having any effect on the size and duration of the fire, but in a strange coincidence our fires have been longer and more mellow since we put it in there! He's a smart guy!

I'm bugging Keith to make the next project the sawdust toilet. A toilet is something that is very handy to have closer than 10 yards in the middle of the night.

The newest addition to the farm is a kitty my parents called Tigger, but Keith and I call him Dumpy. He was abandoned at the dumpsters on the highway and because my parents had a moratorium on adopting pets (remember Carl?), I didn't mention it to them when the woman placed the ad in the paper. Thursday night my mom says, "Guess what we're getting!" Yes, another cat. An indoor male cat. He's a cutie and super playful and pretty tolerant of the dogs--he even chased Mia this morning! Of the broken moratorium on animal adoption, mom says, "We didn't need him, but he needed us." Awwww. So that makes 3 dogs and 6 cats. Wow.

Look how fat Carl is! No wonder animals show up here!
(At least we hope that's fat and not pregnant!
Someone needs to trap Carl and get her to the vet ASAP!)

Tigger/Dumpy (a little cross-eyed), used to be fat,
was starved and abandoned, is about to get fat again.

Monday, January 5, 2009

11 weeks later...

We started building our tiny house in mid-October.

Friday night we slept in it for the first time! Okay, so we technically missed the Jan. 1 move-in date but it was worth it!

We celebrated with a bottle of local-ish wine we bought this summer at the Moscow Co-op, some German chocolate cake, and a game of Scrabble on the bed. No, really, Scrabble.

Holy Cow Merlot is delicious!

The flooring looks great, the wood stove works like a champ (there's a bit of a learning curve, sure), and it's just really great to have our own space. Our mattress we brought from Portland (nicknamed The Slab) is providing great rest so far and everything is really cozy. We hung up some makeshift curtains for privacy and the whole interior is a bit rough, but that will change over the winter as we scratch projects off our list.

Wouldn't you like to see the inside? Of course you would!

We put up a few sheets of plywood behind the bed so we're not dealing with the visqueen. It will be painted next spring...the color we're discussing now is a pale, PALE orange. Something to accentuate the natural light.

We had a few pieces of flooring left over so we decided (Keith's idea!) to wrap it around the bed frame. It looks great and makes a more seamless transition for the tiny space.

view from the bed

The wood stove is great, but difficult to master. A small firebox means small, hot fires that need almost-constant attention. Yesterday if was over 100º in the house! And we Keith has to stoke the fire a couple of times a night. Still, it does the job and we'll eventually figure out how to regulate the output.

Notice the chickens!

The thermometer on the front of the stove appears to work, but we're not sure how accurate it is. Definitely warm enough to cook our favorite meal (nachos) but until we learn how to even out the heat a bit I don't think we'll be cooking anything too delicate in there.

The dogs are a little confused. Especially since we're still spending some time over at my parents' for meals and bathing, etc. But they're getting used to it. We're trying to break them of sleeping on the bed, but at some point in the night the fire dies down and it gets colder and we let them jump up and get under covers with us. Most of the time they're on their dog beds by the stove or by the window.

There's a lot to see!

Firewood storage is still an issue, but we found this great old milk crate to store some of it.

So we're working on a list and estimating materials of various future projects to finish the inside. The window wall between the stove and the bed is probably the next one--Keith says we need the heat blocked (that's his side of the bed right now).

But it just feels great to finally be inside the house we've been dreaming of for months... some people may say it's too small, but for us it's just right. And it's custom. What more could you want?

view from the road
(tiny house on the left)