I’ve not written in weeks and I promise this won’t be one of those “I’m sorry I’ve not blogged” posts. But well, I’m sorry.
Okay, that’s out of the way. Phew.
SO now down to why I’ve not written…Pride…purely pride. You see, we’ve retreated into our old house for the winter and I’ve been afraid to say it in bold type for fear it will make it true.
Our little cabin in the woods, which we have lived in whole heartedly throughout most of the summer, and on which we worked our fingers to the bone… is not fit for winter. We came so close…
Here is what is NOT done:
- The cabin is not skirted, therefore the cold wind blows right under and freezes the floor…so we cannot turn the water on for fear of making a popsicle of our well line.
- The water line is not attached to the cabin…it is just under it.
- The incoming water lines are not installed…no water hooked up anywhere
- Pressure tank and hot water heater not installed
- Our woodstove is not big enough…has to be restocked every hour and a half…even at night. That was a hardship in that nobody was sleeping very much.
- Breaker box not wired, wires just sitting in wall
- Power system, inverter, generator, batteries…though we have them…are not set up. No power.
- Bathroom is just a storage room with a shower stall. No water/toilet/sink/laundry.
- Kitchen not really usable, well, not in a pleasant way. No power to fridge means no fresh meats or dairy. We were surviving on boxed foods which we detest. Nobody was feeling healthy.
- Cracks between floor boards not filled with anything…other than dirt. 😉
The truth is, we had to make some difficult decision on just how “rough” we were willing to live. I was peeing in a bucket in my loft three times a night because I have the bladder of an old man, and Luke was afraid to go at night because the outhouse trip in the dark was NOT happening. And so he just….went.
We were showering seven miles away…which is fine…except by the time we were finished working at night nobody wanted to make the trek to showers. After a while, that builds up on little boys. Laundry too was seven miles away.
The temperature dropped to the teens. The winter wind picked up. Working outside, most days, became difficult. My arthritis has taken on a new level, hands and elbows aching constantly. It became easier and easier to just not work.
Our old house was beckoning us, warm and inviting. It seemed silly to pay the mortgage on that warm empty house while we huddled together in the cabin under blankets, watching our breath float out in a fog every time we spoke.
The kids didn’t complain. They never once, not one time, said we should go back to the other house. Dan and I talked and talked…wondering what to do. Was it right to “give up” when the kids weren’t even voicing the desire? Should we keep on working through the winter? Were we ever going to have any fun? Was this all worth it? Were we just being stubborn?
We had put every extra dime we had, and then some, into this dream for the past year. The money simply ran out. Our energy ran out. A few weeks ago all of our trucks broke at one time. Not easy fixes, but major diesel engine repair, which left us borrowing a rig from my folks. There went several more thousand dollars.
Then four of the kids started sports, which meant our time was spent sitting in the gym cheering, rather than swinging a hammer. Which is fine, we like to cheer.
And when late one night after a volley ball game we ‘camped’ at the old house, nobody complained about that either. And then we spent a second night. And a third.
There simply was nothing left. Not emotionally, physically or monetarily. We were, in all possible ways, drained. We’d had enough.
And so we resigned ourselves to the old house. Not that it’s a hardship in any way…we are blessed to have the option and it’s certainly nice to flip the switch and watch the heat come on. It’s just extremely disheartening and disappointing after all our long, hard work, to feel as if we’ve gone in reverse.
But here’ s a list of what we have accomplished since June:
- Gravel driveway, 800 feet
- A gravel pit on our own land
- Garden, fenced
- Chicken/goat barn and fenced area
- Tree clearing and firewood
- Cabin nearly livable, all done by our own hands
- Septic installed
- Well drilled and line buried
- Outhouse built
- Underside of cabin insulated (by Robin)
- Interior walls framed
- Windows and doors installed
- Addition for kids built this year
- Roof tin complete
- Electrical mostly done
- Kitchen started
- Shower installed
- Drain pipes plumbed
- LOTS of labor intensive saw milling
- Some interior wall boards complete
- Kids ‘rooms’ (let’s just call them stalls) roughed in
- Woodstove installed
- Fireplace mantle built with hand picked slate
- Emptied our old house completely and readied for sale
- Billy also built an entire cabin, dried in, windows in, roof on. Not insulated or ready to live in.
And when I look at this list I KNOW it was a lot of work and that we accomplished a LOT but that doesn’t take away the sting of not quite making it in before the temperatures dropped and the money ran dry.
SO here we sit, refusing to move our furniture and ‘things’ back into the old house because that would feel like utter defeat. So we flopped mattresses on the floor, stacked our clothes in boxes along the walls and brought enough pots and pans to make some edible food. Our homeschool stuff looks like a garage sale across the floor of the living room; a plastic folding table makes my desk and the corner piece of an old sectional couch, my seat. This is why bean bag chairs were invented.
And so we’ll spend the winter planning for next year, homeschooling, cheering our kids from the bleachers, reading, and maybe I’ll do a little writing. Five months and the weather will let us get back to work.
But truth is, every time we drive up to the cabin our hearts break that we are not there, huddled in around our woodstove by lantern light, watching the snow drift down against the backdrop of our very own piece of the woods.