weekend off, back to work

We ended up taking 100% of the weekend off because Paul got the nasty bug that was kicking all of the butts of the Elk Valley residents. All the neighbors had it first, Finn and I fought it off before it got us, and Paul finally got it. Told him he should have taken echinacea… but it gifted us with our first days of rest since moving here over a month ago.

I cooked for him all weekend and made him soup and about four gallons of tea, fed him herbs and tincture and his bout wasn’t as bad or as lengthy as anyone else’s, thankfully.

So back to work. 

The poor cabin looks like a trash heap, but will soon be cleaned up and beautiful, inside and out.

Lots of new discoveries, like no sheathing between the insulation and siding on the front of the house. See the light shinishining in? Oops.

And the sill plate under this stunning window is all dry rotted and needs to be replaced, but that’s easy enough.

We found stunningly beautiful old wood under the drywall in the kitchen. I wish it wasn’t behind where the fridge was going but knowing it’s there will make me smile.

For some crazy reason there’s this cartoon looking mouse hole cut into it that literally did become a mouse hole. We were dumbfounded (and still are). We’re leaving it for fun.

The insulation is now coming out of the attic crawl space. Omg. Rat. Shit. Everywhere. The husb even found me a rat skull which will surely make it into a future art piece. 

No more drywall on the ceiling. I wish this wood wasn’t so gappy and ruined because I want it to stay! Someday that ceiling will have new wood. ♡

We finally got to order all of our drywall, insulation and roofing materials today! We were supposed to be doing the roof this weekend but it’ll be the next weekend. In the meantime, finish the attic crawl space, redo all of the electrical, pull off the old/current roof and possibly work a bit on the floors. We also got our new stove ordered for delivery in a couple of weeks (with five burners and a freaking convection oven for a $400 discount) and our wood stove is picked out and ready to order tomorrow. I’m baking all the neighbors chocolate chip cookies the day the range arrives. Things are going to start moving fast around here and we’re so excited! The only big things remaining are the water heater, shower/fixtures, pedistal sink for the bathroom, toilet, light fixtures, cabinet hardware, butcherblock counters, a couple of replacement windows, and a ton of paint. (It didn’t feel like a lot more until I listed it out.) Oh and OSB (which we’ll paint) for the bad exterior sides until we can wrap and re-side (and paint!) the whole thing next spring. 

The highlight of my week was getting to have three outdoor healing client sessions (so far). One under the above tree at the edge of the forest…

…in this secret little spot.

Another in the moss covered underbrush of an apple and several hawthorn trees.

And one today, right on the creek. There’s a rock in the center that’s a perfectly dry perch where the mini falls flow around you. It’s almost as if you’re sitting in the water. It’s so peaceful and magical. 

The upper field was finally mowed! Our sweet neighbor did it because although a riding lawnmower came with the property, so did a 2001 Saturn that is locked and has no keys. So, the mower is stuck in the garage until we can work out that wee obstacle of car extraction.

See that tarp? It’s actually 49′ despite looking like a slip ‘n slide. It’s huge! That’ll be a wee garden soon (which is still about ten billion times larger than our other garden — our old yard was only 50’ wide and only three of those tarps equal our old oversized city lot). We may to be doing a temporary traditional rowed garden but our “real” gardens will be in shapes of leaves and mandalas because… we like that idea. It’ll look amazing and be so fun to figure out the geometry of it all.

This is one of them. Pardon the angle, it is actually perfectly symmetrical. Then we’ll have my tiny medicinal herb garden off cabin four (that’ll be my art and healing space, complete with an apothecary room where I can make my earth and body friendly products, essential oils, tinctures, medicinal teas, etc.), a small potager garden off cabin five (the main house) and a tiny soup and salad garden right next to our summer camp spot so we don’t have to go far to procure things to eat. The rest will be free form and meandering. 

The rains returned right as we were driving the last stake in the tarp.

And with the rains came the irradication of the two subterranean wasp nests which I didn’t think was happening until next week. So excited about that! We kicked some butt around here having taken two of the last four days off.

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tmi

Should we even be blogging this? Probably not, but you don’t get the “full effect” without the… full effect.

I’ve really been missing baths. And showers. And hot running water. But baths especially. Today I set out to bathe in actual hot water. The creek is awesome but cold.

I had a plan. The husb agreed that it was a good one, or at least suitable. 

Yes, that is a cooler, out on the lawn in the courtyard, filled with hot soapy water.

I got in first. No photos were taken.

Paul got in next. Many photos were taken.

We are clean and happy. And naked on the courtyard lawn.

And soon my hair will not look like I’m trying to grow dreads. It’ll probably take a day or three, but I found my brush today! ♡

ugh… and pretty stuff

Well, “the final” march was far from accurate. Let’s rephrase (regarding our previous post)… yesterday’s march of the carpenter ants was just beginning. 

Fortunately or unfortunately, the husb and boy didn’t get a photo of the writhing, watermelon sized mass of huge carpenter ants discovered today. I didn’t see them either, just the aftermath. 

One whole (extra) area is jacked up. Munch, munch, go the ants. Spray, spray go the fellas… and we discover our otherwise amazing organic cedar pest spray doesn’t actually kill them as I was told it would. We used a whole $25 bottle today for nothing. Dang it. (Wondercide is an AWESOME alternative to poison for pets/fleas/ticks, mosquitoes, little house ants, etc. though). Super soapy water with essential oils of rosemary, oregano and lemon worked better, and we’ll be ordering a metric ton of good grade diatomacious earth post haste. And replacement wood.

That is/was our feat for Wednesday. And grocery shopping. And pulling out another few tons of drywall and insulation. And the creation and enjoyment of three huge meals, followed by three huge loads of dishes (still no hot water, but soon). And finishing the deep cleaning of cabin five’s bedroom because nights in the 30 degree range are cold in a tent*. And that cabin doesn’t have any pests or vermin. Or I should say that cabin doesn’t have any *visible* pests or vermin.

*The childman has taken to sleeping inside as of three nights ago. (Internet and privacy. Not warmth. He’s always warm.)

Even after the massive spray downs, they continue their march. Little fuckers.

Much has been accomplished though! This is peering in the front door. Huge progress. Just a little bit of the living room remains, plus the kitchen. 

In more lovely news, we spent about three hours on Sunday forging a new path to a place in the forest that was otherwise only accessible via water. 

Love the new land access! The husb found the majestic secret spot during one of our first days here while walking (and swimming) up the center of the creek and surprised me with it. Go down the path above about fifty feet, turn right to the path below, and you’re more than halfway there.

More trail clearing. (I’ll share the actually spot soon)

In the meantime I’ll say this place is magic! There are arched vines and twigs overhead, about seven feet tall, and a blanket of soft moss, leaves and sand covering the forest floor making it cozy. Along either side of the paths there you can stop to eat blackberries and wild raspberries, then settle in for a wee afternoon nap.

Two fallen trees along the creek make it almost invisible to others, not that “others” traverse this part of our creek. The water sounds are peaceful and mesmerizing. 

If you lay in this area on your back and look up, this is what you see.

And this is the view to the left.

This is where we are going to build our late spring to early autumn “love hut,” which is just a glorified fort for adults. (We’ll have a second one for the rest of the year too, of course.)

There are curved magic wands all over this area, tumbled smooth by the high winter waters. There are butterflies there too, and moths, deer, newts, faeries, elves, a thousand birds… and not a single carpenter ant. It’s perfection.

concrete, snakes and misalignment

Pretty much everything is out of cabin one and the demo is beginning. Some carpet has been ripped out, some walls have been investigated  (we’re taking this baby down to studs!). Many gross things have been discovered. 

Originally I was going to spare you all the aforem”gross things” but realized then that you won’t be able to fully grasp or appreciate the drastically amazing progress without them.

That mold I mentioned from the improperly installed wood stove and stove pipe? That’s the result. We wear masks inside, don’t worry.

The husby started getting happy with a sledgehammer. The smaller hole to the right near the floor was rodent created. So nice of them to help!

As we progress, my eye twitches and my mind goes a bit crazy. Not with thoughts of mold and mouse droppings, but with the misalignment of things. The window isn’t centered in the wall, and the toilet isn’t centered under the window. Ugh! We can’t move the toilet but we can move the window and put shelves to the left so everything is aligned for my OCD mind.

The sink and mirror aren’t aligned either (and this is the last of the previous owner’s belongings to purge).

The carpet is starting to be removed. The floor in the bedroom addition is pretty perfect. Awesome. 

Thankfully there is no asbestos tile like there is in cabins two and five, but mastic… fun! 

Snakes? Long story short, use no more than four squares of tp at one time when using the toilet or you’ll have a significant plumbing issue to interrupt your day. (AND before you pee outside, especially if you’re a lady, look for snakes. Tip: just because it’s not moving and it looks dead, doesn’t mean it’s dead. I met my first foot-and-a-half long baby snake two days ago.)

Our first dump run pile is ready to load up and get out of here (except we gifted our truck to our old Portland neighbor so this will require a bit of thought and planning).

A lot of you (family in particular) are surely thinking wtf are you thinking!? But a) this is the grossest cabin and we’re 1/4 of the way through and b) we have never in our lives found more stunning land than what we have here. Ah, and c) (the biggy!) we’re so happy here!

(I may not be proving my point entirely with is this pic, but a wasp was swarming our faces. Trust me, I’m happy!)

Even our angsty 14 year old boy is elated to be living here, even in a tent and with limited privacy. (We have fiberoptic internet now which certainly doesn’t hurt either.)

At the end of the day, we live in paradise! 

With deer, hawks, eagles, turkey, rabbits, and other beautiful creatures. And so not so lovely ones too, but I’m accepting the balance. 

We already have a small abundance of food (two Bartlett Pear trees, a Gravenstein Apple, blackberries, lemon balm, all kinds of stuff!)…

The nights are beautiful beyond words with a million stars in the sky. We can even see the Milky Way on clear nights!

Oh, and our pup couldn’t be happier either! 

The gross is temporary. The beauty is forever.

I’ll just leave you with this thought, shared with me by a beautiful lady friend of mine:

week one progress (and trusting your gut)

What a productive first week we had on the farm! So productive, in fact, that I spaced writing a blog post. Whoops. We’ll all three try to be better about such things.

We now have running water in the kitchens of cabins 1 and 5 (hot water in cabin 1!). No bathroom water yet, except one toilet, but soon.

We got the roof of cabin 1 totally cleaned and repaired. (By “we” I mean Paul did whilst I cooked and washed dishes like a pioneer lady after boiling my own water.) He and our amazing neighbor almost got the roof of cabin 2 totally done too, but… an illusive hornet’s nest made itself known and our sweet neighbor was stung four times. We felt horrible! So that roof is on the back burner for the moment too.

Cabin 1 is almost totally cleared out. A literal entire car load of paper was recycled today, and we have probably 5 car loads of donations, plus a metric ton of king sized mattresses, entertainment centers, mini fridges, couches, etc. to find new homes for too. We’ll be ready to start ripping out carpet and drywall this weekend  (except we’ll probably hold off until Monday as we have company coming Friday through Sunday). I would have gotten way more done today but I found a dead mouse in advanced decay in the kitchen (not that big of a deal), then made the HUGE mistake of opening one of the fridges that haven’t been turned on in about a year and a half (pretty big deal), and then got soaked from the waist down (in my only pair of jeans) in slimy brown sludge from coffee pot remnants (that’s what sealed the deal for me). I took the rest of the day off from purging to cook, do dishes and clean the crap out of cabin 5.

My biggest lesson of the week: trust your gut. I say “it’s going to rain tonight.” Husband says “check your app.” Weather app says 3% chance of rain. I say no, it’s GOING to rain. Everyone should have just believed me. It rained. And four days later it’s still raining. Our camp spot is now referred to as tarp city. It sounds so lovely, all the pitterpatter of drips and droplets. 

Oh! We now have a functional kitchen! I don’t think I’ve shared that yet. Definition of functional kitchen in this particular case means two burners and cold running water. It’s awesome! A non-1970s stove is our next purchase but in the meantime it’s been a huge blessing to be able to use my favorite huge pan while cooking (the camp stove is too small for its enormity) AND we can heat up our coffee in a water bath when we get distracted and let it grow cold. I really ought to hunt down our coffee maker, but in time that’ll happen. ♡ Boiling water makes me plenty happy for now. 

Every afternoon, rain or shine, we adventure together as a family, looking for new things we haven’t yet discovered…

We found our new favorite picnic spot.

And have discovered more AMAZING trees.

We enjoy finding nature treasures…

And of course at least go pop our toes into the creek if not more.

Bliss!

We’ll get more interior shots of the progress of cabin 1 soon. As of today we have internet!

camp kitchen

Many of our family members and a few of our friends have asked this how we are cooking when the cabin with power doesn’t have water and the cabin with (cold) water doesn’t have power. We have a camp kitchen… which is what we’ve solely used the first six days.

A fancy at least two decade old two burner Coleman propane camp stove. I can kind of foresee missing having an oven and four burners pretty soon but I’m pretty in love with this stove. We’ve had many adventures together over the years.

That’s a picture of our camp set up before we got fully organized. I should take a tidy picture.

So… we have running water in cabin one but no power yet, which means the water is ice cold since we haven’t a water heater. And at this time of year it reeks of sulfur. Unless you like egg water, you don’t want to drink it. And even then you really don’t because that cabin has galvanized lead pipes, which is our next huge project (I’m sure Paul will do a plumbing post). Cabin five has power (and of last night a semi-functional stove!) but no running water. Or oven. So I walk back and forth the 137 steps each way whilst cooking if I need to wash my hands, rinse a spoon or procure more water. It’s great exercise compared to my old kitchen where it was only 2.5 steps from stove to sink.

As a temporary $310 fix for the sulfur/lead issue, we bought a Berky water filtration system. Sulfur well filters are in the $1000-3000+ range. We did a ton of research and a lot of people said a Berkey would not remove sulfur while others said it would remove “at least some”. We can tell you firsthand that, at least in our case, it removes 100% of the sulfur smell and taste. Great investment! These are the best water filtration systems on the planet and well worth the money. You can even make stagnant lake water drinkable.

Now I just boil some Berkey water and fill the sink to do dishes and boil more for rinsing. It’s so much better than the first several days of washing in cold water which didn’t seem entirely safe or sanitary. I feel like a pioneer lady, except for the fact that I’m heating the water on an electric burner instead of a wood stove.

That was kind of boring to read, I’m sure, but now you know. 🙂

let the clean up begin

So… This gorgeous place we bought has five cabins, as previously shared. Two were lived in before the previous owners passed away 5 and 1.5 years ago, and have been vacant since. Cabin one, the dwelling we’re starting our work on, is the worst condition of the two. Mouse poop, dead spiders, and a patch of wall mold where the now nonexistent wood stove and pipe were improperly installed, icky carpet that smells of mildew, etc. It’s gross, but ohmygosh it’s going to be stunning once we’re done! All you need is vision and determination (plus face masks and nitrile glives). Because it was an estate, everything in the cabins and on the property were included in the purchase. 

This is a before shot of cabin one:

It’ll be a few weeks before we have an adequate “after” shot, but it still won’t totally be done. I’m crossing my fingers we can get the exterior painted after the siding and edge caps are replaced (I have no idea what they’re really called) and before the rains. I’m thinking red with aqua trim, but as an artist, I’m sure that idea will change at least 43 times before anything happens. 

The inside is really cute and we started clearing it out today. (Those are some of my house plants clearing the air for us).

I love the windows that look out over the lower field. It’s actually a bright little place but the power is still off and these were taken really early.

The tiny kitchen and builtins are pretty adorable. 

Envision cute painted cabinets and butcher block counters… new appliances and faucet, etc. Now you can start seeing what we see.

I have to say that it’s really emotional going through someone else’s life and belongings. Her family came to take what they wanted (coin collections and all things of value, we’re told) and left behind the true treasures of photo albums, diaries and family photos. I learned a lot about this beautiful woman today. I’m a bit like her… an artist, a garden and growing lover, appreciator of tarot/past lives/reflexology, etc. I really got a good feel today for what she wanted this place to be before her husband passed and she couldn’t carry out their dream. It will be such a huge honor and blessing to be able to help her dreams come to fruition. Her dreams overlap with our dreams, that I know for certain. 

I set all of the gardening books aside (which apparently I forgot to photograph) and although I haven’t shared it with my family yet, I plan to make a small circular garden in honor of her. She, like me, was an obsessive bookmarker so I know plenty of her favorite flowers, grasses, herbs and goodies.

After busting our booties with the beginning of cleaning cabin and roof, we went exploring. 

There are no words for this kind of perfection! We are so blessed to be surrounded by so much magic! You can’t see it here but the path is lined with intermittent apple trees.

And then we went swimming in the creek, of course. ♡

good morning day one!

I’d scheduled our g’bye Portland post in advance thinking we would be heading out Friday as originally planned but we didn’t end up leaving until Saturday afternoon. We had a bit of a space hiccup, thinking we’d need just one U-Haul. Ha! Nope. We needed two.

And a car carrier. 

Good thing we have five cabins for all this stuff.

Last night was awesome. We finally arrived home around six, just in time to set up camp with three tents and a camp kitchen. Two of our wonderful friends camped with us to help unload everything today and a third friend arrived a bit ago to assist. We are so blessed!

This morning began with a short walk out in the fields and down to the creek for a good morning and hello. (And a pee in the woods as we have a pretty hefty plumbing adventure before us.)


This is one of our future chicken houses.

That’s adjacent to a small orchard of gravenstein apples and pears.

And this is looking south along the edge of the upper field. 

The east side is lined with majestic old and very wise oak trees. I almost got a little weepy with joy when I discovered just how many oak trees we have here to watch over us.

This is the wee hill that separates the big upper field with the smaller cresent moon-shaped lower field. It hasn’t rained here in ages and I’m so excited for the rains to come and green everything up, especially once the wheat is replaced with veggies, berries, herbs and fruit. And flowers. Never forget the flowers. 

I’m loving the pops of color from the wild sweet pea that grows in abundance. 

The lower field makes way the the most magical of forests. Our very own old growth slice of heaven. 

The upper path to the creek.

And the lower path.

Last night we were gifted this most beautiful feather on the trail so I put in on the old Doug Fir. Finding feathers is magical to me.

And the creek above the mini falls. Perfect bliss! See the standing stone in there? There are several and they are stunning! 

The creek below the mini falls. (We haven’t walked to the big falls yet because I want to do it as a family and this morning was a bit too chilly to trudge up the middle of the creek. We have more paths to create.) This will have us swimming in it within the next few hours.

After my peaceful morning walk I made all the guys (and myself) a tasty breakfast to get up our strength to move our 40′ high cube shipping container. 

Long story short, we paid to have it delivered to the property. ON our property. Instead they dropped it on the street. Our new neighbors are two of the most amazing, kind, beautiful, and giving people on earth. They helped us move it, gifting their time, truck, expertise and love. Once again, I was weepy with joy. These people already feel like family. 

Today is unloading. Tomorrow is returning trucks and taking our neighbors to lunch as a small token of gratitude. Then I’m enforcing a mandatory afternoon of rest before we start tackling the cleanup, overhaul and remodel of cabin number one.

We’re home! And we’re all so happy! Have I shared how very blessed we are? Life is beautiful, my friends and family.

we bought five cabins

We’ve started this blog early in the process (long before the sustainable permaculture gardens even exist) as a means to share our journey with family and friends. We’re hoping our trials, errors, miniscule and huge successes and discoveries will inspire others wishing to embark upon similar paths. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

Almost eight years ago, my husband started to understand my dream of living farther from the city to start an organic farm to feed and nurture ourselves and our community. The seed was planted. About a year later we started actively searching for that perfect-for-us piece of land and we’ve finally found It! Our dream was to find a home, likely a fixer, with at least five acres that we could start our little farm on. Instead, we found an organic hay farm on a gentle southern slope with five old logging cabins on it.

Meet Five Cabin Farm. Our perfect oasis in the making. This place is a magical sanctuary complete with almost four acres of meadow to frollic and grow in, an abundance of dwellings (for living, art, healing, music and guests), a most divine creek with a deep and refreshing swimming hole… all surrounded by acres and acres of lush green forests.

Before we get the farm up and running, we have a lot of work to do… the cabins need heaps of love, but after the remodel of our three story 1918 house in Portland it’ll hopefully be easy…ish. Plumbing and electrical work, flooring, roof, drywall and insulation replacements, siding and foundation work, a few new windows here and there and two total kitchen and bathroom remodels with complete appliance and fixture replacements. That means tent living for the first month or so, and I’m excited beyond words!

This is one of our sweet new cabins: