Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Under Construction {part 1}

We have been under construction, in some form or another, for the last four months.
It  has been a dramatic experience in the changing of the seasons.

The very day we closed on the acreage, we loaded up our kids and pushed deep into the most unruly sections, searching out the possibilities for our home site. It was hot and humid, tick infested, and full of overgrowth and wonder.

Our kids felt a bit like Huckleberry Finn, I imagine.
For me, it has been art imitating life, the road less taken, a walk from the warmth of the wardrobe out into Narnia without a road map.

I still can't believe we have moved home!

It was so overgrown and full of thorny underbrush in fact, that we had to piggy back the two little ones while Harbor shimmied up a fallen tree and waited us out, promising to move not an inch until we worked our way back to him. We periodically called out to him and grinned at his returning answer.  To own a place where getting lost is possible.
How delirious!
How wonderful!

: )

We worked out two areas that first week: the first site was the deepest.
Full of waist high brush and an enormous tree canopy, we decided to push our carriage house to the farthest south eastern point of the land. 

It was private. It has views. It felt like a Bob Ross painting.

We lined the kids up to watch as David cut the very first tree.
This area where David is standing below is now smack dab in the living room of our carriage house.
So mind blowing to see these before pictures and recall all the planning and exploring and consulting we took on in those first few weeks.

Every night and every weekend, David tackled different areas of the forest.
While he has a builder brother, he is single handily meeting the crews on site, felling all the trees, clearing the land alone, and planning out the different house locations: the carriage house, where we will live for a few years and the main house that we will build in the meantime. 

It has been a full time job, but he is like a bee in a poppy field.
Literally skipping with both feet and full of ideas about every possible angle.

The kids have built forts and made colonies and pretend "forest" money and "spied" on the animals.

We have packed picnics a plenty and stayed outside all the live long day.

And life has played out not quite unlike a Jeep commercial.
: )

Lots of equipment hauling, and loud music thumping through the hickory, mingled with the bellowing of cows from either side of our pastures.

We have pushed through poison ivy and tied off trees by the hundreds, securing little orange bows of ribbon: dead ones, little ones, ones in the way of construction, and ones in the future way of construction.

It has been so much fun- and so much work.

Henry and his tree fort

Our families have lent hands as we have needed them.
Here, my dad helped drop several 50 ft. tall cedar trees- stunning deep, red cedars- to clear a place for our driveway. I should probably note for prosperity sake that we hired no help in clearing the land for the home site or the driveway. It was David with a chainsaw for a full two months.

And slowly but surely, we finalized the home site for the carriage house.
David rented a TREX tractor for a month- and an undisclosed weight in gold {no, really.}- and began the massive undertaking of dropping several {15?} 75 ft. tall trees and digging up the stumps. He spent maybe 15 whole minutes learning how to operate the tractor before taking off and getting it done.
Such a great guy!
And a total Engineer.

We spent agonizing weeks pouring over floor plans, narrowing down to the perfect one for us:
not too big {it will eventually be a guest house and shop} but just big enough for our family of five to thrive, with the right elevation to eventually match the main house, with the right dimensions for  great window views overlooking the distant grain silos and forests of oak.

No small order, let me tell ya!
But we found a perfect fit and had it customized with the architect.

Our Carriage House Farmhouse was underway.

The best part of land weekends?
No one asks for the cell phones!  : )

One of my very favorite parts of early construction {back in early September}was the discovery of some mammoth flat stones. We have uncovered many and have quite a collection growing onsite.
We are envisioning an outdoor fireplace, perhaps.

The back of our acreage is lined with about 500 empty acres of rolling prairie, mostly dotted with herds of cattle and a few bulls.

David listening to the Razorback football game while working.

David's older brother, Matt, who could pass as David's twin, is a frequent visitor.
We are so thankful to share this adventure with our families.

As David drops logs, he subsequently has begun stock piling an area for wood storage.
Bonfires and real wood burning stoves are a special treat to look forward to!

We have stone coming out our ears {and eyes and noses!}

We have had play dates in the dirt.

And lovely visits from the best of friends.
It is always a great surprise when friends roll in and get the full tour of the property- and of course an opportunity to hear us share our vision for the future of our acreage.

One morning, David and I stopped at a local hardware store- small, mom-and-pop style- and I noticed a sad hammock on sale by the front door.
Let me just tell you that this hammock has been a true game changer- as in "we can solve the problems of the world while swaying" experience.
Many, many chats have been had in that hammock- from kitchen design to bird watching to tire swing planning.

With hard work and patience, David came though- as he always does!- by clearing the carriage house pad all alone. And just as it happened, the seasons changed again and all the green leaves began to float downwards, leaving our thick hidden forest full of crispness, crunchiness, and with a smell of Autumn. What was once a secret garden-over night-became a wide open canvas, full of potential.

Before and after:

Tree stumps

The most fascinating of all things has been to watch David dig these massive 100 year old tree stumps out of the earth. With a root system spanning hundreds of feet, they seemed like spider webs, reaching far out into the cow fields. It definitely hurt my heart to see those old, watch-tower trees of old come down.

More visitors!

Childhood defined.
Binoculars in a land full of bird nests.

David telling Harbor that the root of this tree was probably once planted by a squirrel and forgotten about, never found again, until it began to grow. Talk about being surprised!
: )

David even gave a few tractor lessons to folks who thought they would stop by just to visit.
It seemed everyone wanted to try their hand at one project or another.
And David was happy to give lessons.
: )

The beginnings of our driveway!

This day was one of true, unabashed joy.
Just plain old giddiness.
David had finally worked his way from the back of about three acres all the way to the little winding dirt road- he had started our driveway. 
After parking off the little dirt road in the ditch for over two months, our driveway was finally being roughed in.
Go, David, go!

We could finally see the light- literally, bright light filtering through the dense forest.

Me pointing at the first cut of our circle driveway, that will eventually connect our carriage house to the main house on the property.


I was never so glad to see a metal culvert in all my life.
I can't tell you how many times David and I walked the property, trying to decide where to land the driveway. The great part of buying raw land is that you get to decide where everything goes. The bad part of buying raw land is you get to decide where everything goes.

Our quaint little dirt road has a new winding driveway and about 100 less trees.
And it feels like home.

Before and after:
the day we closed on our land
the day we finally pushed through the trees and landed our driveway exactly where we wanted it.

We have loved burning brush into the night with the little ones.
There is a feeling that comes with being out in the country and the smell of firewood under the open sky. It reminds me of my childhood and growing up around the farm.

Henry standing on our driveway as it heads back into the land, into the first half of the circle.

Break time
: )

Our front yard view- the land we own starts at the distant tree line and pushes back.

I can't believe we have been married 15 years this year.
In my heart, he is still 19 years old in a football Letterman jacket.
So thankful he is a constant in my life.

Life with David has been an adventure.

Sights from the land on a daily basis: creeping, crawling vines, overhead leaves falling, the woodpile stacked as high as the tractor can reach, and the glowing embers of a fire that has burned all day and all night long.

This story is ever evolving.
Just today, our downstairs was framed by the framing crew.
I have so much more to share and show.
Kids, this blog is for you.
It is my heart song poured out in pictures.
I love you, my little ones.
Never forget these early days.
This is home.
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1 comment:

  1. I love your blog!!!❤️ Can't wait to see the house when it's finished! I miss you!
    Love, Brooke Gaughan