All Those Tiny Details

June,  2018

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a roof! A complete one that overhangs the exterior walls!

I know. This is not very sexy. You’ve been waiting all this year for an update on our building process and this is all I have to offer you. A building that looks veeeery much like the one I left you with in December.

And I will not be offering you excuses, except to say we have not been twiddling our thumbs. Let me be the one to inform you: the homesteading life is not made of giant, spectacular house-raising days and move-in days, but tiny work like mulching potatoes and nailing bits of wood together; and this is what has consumed us lately. Lots of unexciting details.

But I wanted to catch you up on where we are in the building process, because soon we will be moving on to the walls, and that (at least to me) turns the dial to Exciting.

The house survived the winter, a few leaks here and there but nothing terrible (fingers still crossed). The first job awaiting J. in the spring was extending the roof past the timber frame, to overhang the exterior walls by about three feet. A very not-sexy job, but important, since our walls will be made of straw bales, and those want to stay dry.

The children modelling behavior befitting a proper hand-built natural home.

I won’t detail for you how J. built the overhangs, mostly because every time he would try to explain it to me, my eyes would glaze over just a teeny bit. Since I never got up onto the roof to look or take pictures, you’ll have to glean what you can (if you want to) from these photos taken way down below.

I’m happy to say that the one time J fell, he caught himself and ended up hanging by his hands from the end of a rafter. Like the manly man he is, he pulled himself up, but since then he’s been wearing his harness religiously.


And there it is, the gable end of the roof. All those little bits of wood nailed together.

On a fun note, J. got to build a couple door frames, and now we have a doorway to walk through. No stairs yet, to get up to the door. All things in their seasons…


J. is also building a little awning to overhang the gable ends of the house. Its main purpose, again, is to protect the lower straw bale walls from rain.

Here’s one of the gable end awnings completed, minus its eventual metal roof.

As we approach the time where we stack all our straw bales for our walls, I’m realizing the end is nearing of those beautiful photos with the woods framed in the negative space of our house. So I’ll put a few here for posterity.

Also you can see a bit of the roof extension structure. Through the blurriness.


While we’re waiting for the roof insulation to arrive so he can finish the roof, J.’s been building bucks for the windows, which will float on the straw bales; I’ve been boning up on straw bale building details. And taking the kids on bike rides. And getting ready for a firing. And feeding the family. And cleaning the bathroom.

All these little jobs are what makes up a life, not just a homesteading life–any life. I’ve noticed that I’ve been spending an awful lot of time looking forward to the days when we’re living in our little house in the woods, where my dreams will come true and all will be well. But really, what I should be doing right now is sweeping the floor.

And because I have more important things to do (like making my dreams come true) I put off sweeping the floor until chickens would gladly scratch in the detritus on my kitchen floor. Picking up the broom to finally storm the floors in anger and impatience, I invariably miss out on the joy of today: the motion of my body as I work the broom, the warmth of the breeze coming in the window, the footprints of the children in the dust. I forgo the stuff of my life in favor of a diaphanous future.

So. All of you out there, sweep the floor with me. Sweep it with gratitude. Sweep it out of love for your family. This is today; this is the stuff your life is made of. I’ll be sweeping my floor as well.

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