Pa builds a claim shanty

For more on our transition to a bigger, better and less developed farm, check out "our kind of roller coaster" and "why we're doing 2015 the hard way".

Perhaps foolishly at times, the Little House on the Prairie books have provided the bellweather logic behind much of my adult life. First it was, "If Laura can..." and now in my thirties it's more like, "If Ma can..." And lately; "if the Ingalls can move west, plunk down a little shack and make a proper farmstead of a wide open prairie, surely we can do it too." So when we found out that the power company wouldn't bring us the electrons to excite our electron-dependent fences until we had a footing and septic system, thus displaying our level of commitment to the place, we said, "If Pa can, we can." And by "we" I mean Travis, because lets be real, he's the one with the constructing-things-properly skills instead of the pretend-it's-a-right-angle-and-no-that's-not-my-thumb-nailed-to-it kind of skills. 

Many of the interwoven steps to accomplishing a footing and a septic system are almost wholly dependent on the dirt work guys, the water company guys, the power guys: the not-us people. So there's only so much sweat we can pour into the project before we have to wait for the appropriate folk to take the next steps. One of the sweaty things we can do is get prepared to live on the new farm as soon as the new farm is ready for our animals, even before we have a real house to call home. I've commuted to chores before and I never ever ever want to do it again. Introducing the cabin in-between, the tiny house, our claim shanty.

As luck would have it, we already had a little bitty abode for intern/guest housing that can serve as the starting point. All we had to do (and again I use the word "we" loosely), was to cut off the covered porch, lift it up, put it on a trailer, tow it across the county, site it, lift it again, untrailer it, set it on blocks, and finally, make sure its level. No biggie.

Travis carefully lowers the intern cabin onto the trailer for towing to the new farm.

Travis carefully lowers the intern cabin onto the trailer for towing to the new farm.

At a scant 8 by 12 feet, the original cabin contained a bed area, a kitchenette, and a micro bathroom with shower and composting toilet. To make it habitable for our family of four, the original cabin will house a kitchen with full sized appliances, the toilet will upgrade to the flushable kind, and we are adding a 12 by 12 foot addition. The new space will have a loft for adult privacy, the girls' bunk bed below, a closet area, and a table for all our tabling needs.

Framing the addition begins

Framing the addition begins

Maggie supervises a window header being installed, while Honey practices with her very own, new-to-her hammer

Maggie supervises a window header being installed, while Honey practices with her very own, new-to-her hammer

Making sure the roof goes on right

Making sure the roof goes on right

The cabin today

The cabin today

As I write this, the windows and siding of the addition have been installed but all of the inside work is still ahead. Eventually there will be insulation and sheetrock, a ceiling fan and lights, plywood floors, and maybe even a porch that wraps around if money and time allow. Most of the materials both in the original cabin and in the addition are either reclaimed or leftover scraps from Travis' day job as a contractor, which means we get to paint the inside the most "lovely" (aka "free") shade of dusty tan. The debate about what color to paint it is still very hot with some little but loud voices arguing vehemently for "the color of pine trees" with larger, more restrained folk quietly sticking to white or brown. Often the loudest voice wins...