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WhatIf Workshop Progress

Macy M1 comment827 views

Don’t be fooled by the lack of updates, we are working our tails off! I find it hard to update this blog via my phone so until we get a little workspace up north I think I am going to be spotty. Instagram has been the quicker way to update but let me take this moment to catch up here, too!

First – This is Daisy!

We did not expect to head up and come back as tractor owners, it was kind of a surprise. I’ve been looking for a good deal since before we got the property though. We took a little mini-vacation, over the 4th of July, to Sandpoint, ID. I figured I would poke around up there. Then we found Daisy!

We’ve been debating whether to get a big enough tractor to build a road ourselves or to hire it done and have a smaller sized tractor for mowing etc. We really couldn’t decide until we saw Daisy. She’s older than me, has almost 4,000 hours on her but she has a rebuilt diesel engine, a backhoe and a beefy bucket that works great for grading. $10,500 later and we are tractor owners. That brings our entire homesteading budget up to $69,000. Really, with the projecting we have in mind it makes sense to get something big enough to move around some dirt…

And then we broke her… more on that further down…

Second – We had an anniversary!

Every year we take a photo in front of our house. It’s lil’ Beastie’s third appearance but he’s a bit more in the background this year. This year we’re standing where the tiny house will soon become ‘home’ once again! It’s been year of adventure followed by a lot of patience before setting off on our grand new adventure of land stewardship!

We’re so excited to see this next year unfold and there is not another person who I could imagine taking on these journeys with. James sees my imagination, adds to it and raises it into action. I think in reality we just give each other a lot of false confidence. Somehow we keep making it through though. For that I am grateful!

Power Update

View toward Hawg’s

Power was what this latest visit was to be about. Since the neighbor (Hawg) was ready to go we were going to try to get power figured out . As it turns out the power company was charging a LOT ($16,000) just for the wire and two transformers. That didn’t include all the work to dig the trench and bury it over. Hawg did some research and knew it would be substantially less to just buy the wire (~$13,000 less). The power company won’t allow that. So, it’s a cost we just can’t justify, particularly when the original plan was to go off-grid.

As it turns out, it’s been a dream of Hawg’s to be off grid someday, too. Opportunity meets preparation. Besides, the minimum billing rate would be ~$30/month if we used power or not. If we take the same up-front cost we can set ourselves up with renewable power (wind and solar) without minimum billing rates! And we’ll be self reliant!

Getting Water

This is where we learned to drive a tractor.

Another goal of this last trip was to coordinate a well digging. We’ve been deciding how we want to go about setting up the water on the property. We will be doing a lot of trenching either way because our plans are pretty spread out. We figured we could have a water tower that gravity feeds the rest of the property if we can dig the well on top of the hill. Since we got a tractor we could start cutting in the drive to the top of the hill. At least enough to get a well witcher in to determine a good place to dig…

Broken Tractor

Changing all the fluids

Having never driven a tractor before in our lives, we have since learned that the side of a hill MAY not be the best place to start. But, you do what you do. The road goes there. We put a good 5 hours on the tractor just trying to get the hang of it. Then we switched all the fluids because they desperately needed it and put on another 7ish hours. It was going pretty swimmingly and then the clutch popped!

I was backing down the hill (fortunately facing the road instead of sideways), about halfway released on the clutch to go into full gear it just jolted me down the hill. My reflex time to pop it out of gear and break impressed me. Especially since I was 3/4 turned around and looking behind me.

We troubleshot the issues 20 different ways (we joined a great forum, http://www.orangetractortalks.com/forums/,where many strangers were able to help us troubleshoot) and the last possible thing we think it can be is a stuck disk in the clutch mechanism OR a broken clutch all together. Either way the fix is the same. And it’s no little fix. We will be “splitting the tractor” – literally. In to two pieces. It sounds daunting as hell but we have many voices saying it’s really not too tough if we have a clean, flat place to work and basic tools.

Of course we have none of those things… so we’re changing direction to get a clean flat place, where we can store basic tools. 🙂 What’s life is not a great education!?

New Direction – The Shop

Our Basic Idea

We wanted to have a shop space – hopefully – before winter anyway. We’ve decided to let the water and the road wait so we can get our shop in and fix Daisy. It’s nice we have so much to get done that we can just shift directions instead of worrying too much about charging through the original ‘to-do’ list.

The goal of the workshop is to be efficient and practical while providing for a wide array of needs. We would like to accomplish a few things with this particular build:

  • This is the only structure we will not be DIYing as we have no tools or home base nearby. As such we want efficiencies for cost. It is as basic as we can make it without being boring… it will be our new home base.
  • The left will be open bay parking. This is where Beastie, Daisy and implements/hay will be parked/stacked. Basically just a lean to cover to protect from weather.
  • Next over is a 14′ high bay. It is large enough to park our tiny house in but it’s purpose is to be workspace. Should we want to build another large project, fix a tractor, rent out the space to someone else who wants to build a tiny, we can. It’s going to cost more because it’s extra tall but I feel like it will be worth it.
  • Next is a 10′ high storage/utility bay with a full (8′) mezzanine over it. The mezzanine will be marked as storage for the time being. Depending on how ideas progress it may be insulated and closed up to become a ‘classroom’ space in the future.
  • Next, is the workshop area which will have a standard garage door. This will be somewhat separate and may become insulated at a point as well but not initially.
  • Last, shown only in the first image is a full length greenhouse. This won’t be a part of the initial build but is something we plan to add at a later date. It will be a functional greenhouse but it’s intended purpose would be more for a venue space to support local farmers and entrepreneurs. It will have a pretty view, overlooking our pond and a scene from the Palouse. We hope it can be a good place to host farm to table dinners or something to that like.
As we work through the structure

We’ve made a few adjustments from our initial design as we’ve been working through the structure. The goal to make the space a little more efficient. It is a non-typical structure and so we do have to hire an engineer and define a little better where shear forces will be handled etc. We’re working through that right now. Our goal is to be back in Moscow near the end of the month to start ordering supplies and get this puppy moving along! We’re really hoping we can build this for around $45,000 (we’ll need luck for that!).

I’m trying to come up with a color scheme. This isn’t a high profile building and I don’t want it to draw the eye BUT it will also be pretty central on our property. I was thinking a light Heather Grey with White trim and a White or Galvanized roof. What are your thoughts?

Other Highlights

Miles cannot believe we have an excavator and it makes him very happy. He knows he is not allowed near it without our explicit permission. It warms my heart (and terrifies me, too) to see how much he lights up at heavy equipment!
Hazel doesn’t quite feel the same as Miles but she is very excited to help doll up Daisy (we’re going to paint daisies all over her! 🙂
We also got to take the kayaks out and found out we have koi in the pond. Not sure if that isa good thing or a bad thing…
Every single sunset has been flipping amazing. We just sit out and watch the show each night. While we are up there Miles and Hazel point out when it’s close to sunset and remind us we should go to the top of the hill to watch it.
This isn’t even the best view! I cannot wait to get back there!
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Macy M
I am an artist, a steward, a minimalist at heart... I love being out in the sunshine... I love animals of nearly every kind, at least the furry ones, I am trying to be a gardener... I believe people are good at the core but are also capable of very bad things when they aren't intentional about their actions... I love my family, my passions and my life... I am just me :)

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