Me? Build a Cabin?

First Cabin

First Cabin

 

I never expected to build a cabin. I really thought I was going to be a Rancher’s Wife and not even one of the ones that helps out, outdoors, either. I was going to be perfect Susie Homemaker, keeping the house spotless, the meals on time and maybe do the gardening. Of course children would be the perfect ‘seen but not heard’ kind, coming along 2 or more years apart at least 4 years after I got married. As babies, they would sleep a lot. Ha.  God is really laughing about all that.

As I thread my way through the clutter in my home, I think of how clueless I was. It is probably a very good thing I could not foresee the future. I did get to do a lot of gardening, so there is that. Besides, perfect children would have been so boring. I got interesting children instead. Children that thrived on 2 hours of sleep a night.

My first experience in using a hammer was to build an Arctic entryway on the house the Toad and I owned near North Pole, Alaska. Surprising enough, it did not collapse or fall off the house.

My second experience in building was a semi-underground log cabin. (See picture above) I was still extremely afraid of ladders, so built, placed vapor barrier, insulation, dirt and built on some more until I could step off the bank onto the roof. Yay, no ladder needed on the entire project. It was a case of build or lose the property as it was a Homesite.

My third experience in building was a frame cabin. 16’ x 20’ with a partial loft. It was supposed to be the first of many small rental cabins with the rent paying for construction of the next cabin and so on.

I started that project in January 2001, after a warm spell about 45 degrees F. made it possible to start my old Dozer. I cleared the snow and brush away from an area not in the way of anything else planned. A Pulaski and muscle made semi-level pads to place pier blocks on as a foundation. A small sawmill in Fairbanks provided rough cut lumber at a reasonable price so I made the floor deck of 2×6’s, then insulated between the joists and added a plywood deck.

Well, that wasn’t so bad now, was it? The Grouch stopped by a couple of times and helped out but usually told me how it was never going to work, it was all going to slide down the hill during break-up and other helpful tips.

I kept on going. Using rough cut 2×4’s, I built the wall frames. A friend helped me raise the beam across the top of the walls to support the loft floor. I used 2×4’s 12 inches apart for the floor upstairs as I didn’t have the money to buy any more 2×6’s. Then it got scary. I needed to use a ladder to work on the upstairs. I was really running out of supplies by this time, so only built one side wall, 4 feet high, then the end gables, using a ridgepole for rafter support. I was able to get rafters and the same friend did help out by putting the rafters and metal roofing on. I house wrapped and insulated it without any siding on the outside.

The small sawmill had rough cut slab boards that I bought to use as siding on the outside walls and it sturdied up the building a lot to have some nailed up all around the outside. I couldn’t reach very high, while holding each board, so would place a nail in just enough to hold one end of the board while I nailed the other end in place, nailed that one and pulled the nail to use for the next board. Once I got to the highest I could reach, that was it. No more siding, just house wrap above that. The windows were easy to place. I had some on hand and used their measurements while building the walls, then just slid them into place. I bought 6 of them and one was given to me. I started sheetrocking the downstairs, even though I dislike sheetrock. It was very cheap, less than $4 a sheet.

A lady and her daughter came up from Florida to visit and my Granddaughter was staying with me, so the two girls taped and mudded the sheetrock.

I made a spiral staircase for the small loft. It was a royal pain as I hadn’t a clue what I was doing but it is still working, 14 years later. I put part of it up, The Grouch and his son did put the rest of it up.

I nailed plywood up for the ceiling. That was fun. I played tour Guide for a nice man visiting from Utah with his son, taking them to Valdez fishing. When we returned, they build a small bathroom downstairs and sheetrocked it, too.

The cabin wasn’t even finished when The Grouch moved in and has been in residence ever since with a brief bout of moving back to Pennsylvania, never to return, although he was back here quite soon. The first 3 1/2 years he was on payroll so the cabin was part of his pay. When he started getting a monthly check, he paid rent a few months.

Since that third cabin, I seem to always have some sort of building in progress. Mom sold her house, sent the money up and we built her a home. Then I built a shop, then we built my Daughter a house. We are still working on my Grandson’s house. We are also still working on a small gift shop, a very small rental cabin, both using mainly salvaged materials. I kind of like building. I still don’t like ladders but I use them anyway.

Road graders, really OLD Road graders

Nothing to do with the post, just my favorite toy.

Nothing to do with the post, just my favorite toy.


I was building a road to the Homesite Charlie had won in a drawing while he worked up north. A friend was having some difficulties and no longer in the construction business so told me I could use the old Road grader he owned. The stipulation was, I had to start it and drive it away. No one offered assistance and I found there were 3 shutoff switches between the batteries and the starter. That part alone took me almost all day.

I did get it started and luckily for me, the blade was raised already so I didn’t have to try figuring that part out, just yet. I found a gear that it would move in without killing the engine and headed out toward the Homesite location up the Elliott.

I took the back roads as I didn’t know what the regulations were for someone driving something like that on public roads without a clue on how to operate it.

That weekend, Charlie was home from working up north and we went out to do some work on the Homesite. He admired the old Road grader, started it up and had me get up in it with him to ride along, I thought.

He drove it about 100 feet, raising and lowering the blade, tilting the whole deck and using all the array of gears and levers like a maestro. Then he stopped the Road grader, jumped down, told me to have fun and left. Sheesh, if I had known I was supposed to be the operator, I would have been paying attention.

Road graders are a lot of fun, but the newer ones are not be as rough on the Operator. The one I ran was gear driven, an OLD Wabco 440. No hydraulics but many levers and pedals. There were levers on the dash and ones up through the floor that you used your knees or thighs to press side to side while working the dash levers with your hands and the foot pedals with your feet, of course. If you didn’t release the knee levers quick enough the lever beat the insides of your legs black and blue. Gear driven is immediate pain for neglecting to pay attention.

Charlie tried to convince me to try operating a dragline, but after watching them on the river bank tipping up when the bucket snagged something heavy on the river bottom, I said “no thanks.”

Weathertight, at last!!

YAY!!!! No more worries about working on a ladder on the metal roof. Today we finished with that part of the cabin project. Metal roof is on, all the screws in, the chimney is now installed after I cut out a hole in the floor and built a support for it. As we started insulating the ceiling, it began snowing. What timing. We finished insulating the ceiling and put up the foil faced foam board over the insulation over the stairwell. Good. We only had enough foamboard for that but at least I won’t have to worry that John, the friend that came out to help on the roofing, will be gone before we get more board. Since that was all going so well, the boys brought out the door my daughter had painted in her livingroom so it would dry, not just freeze. So, the roof is on and insulated, the door is installed and the building holds heat as we did start up a propane heater downstairs to dry the downstairs out from the rain and then the snow we had while building the 2nd floor.
Driving down to my house, I stopped and cut a load of wood from the logs I had dragged up a couple of months ago during a rare sunny day. I need to get on that so they are all gone before I have to plow. What a day.

The Beginning – chapter 23

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 23
The building projects on each property are all coming along very well. Rose would like another woodshed near her house, but can’t enlarge her current one without closing her driveway or building a new driveway to the house. Finally she decides to just add it to the north side of her house and move the oil tank, since she doesn’t heat with oil any more. She could put it right up next to the entry porch and use the 2nd door from the porch to carry wood in, without ever having to go completely outside. She says she is getting lazy in her old age.
Maybe we can do that after Will and Shari’s is filled. They are close to having it done, now and so is Roman and his sons. Those guys have been working very hard on making the little cabin and outbuildings into a wonderful area. Rose and Kara wish they had met them when they first started building out here. Or before. Some of the “help” they have had has been less than stellar. Roman has been stocking his building supply shed every time he goes to town. He has also been stocking the cabin with supplies they will need for winter. Will and Shari are doing the same and both groups ask us questions all the time about what they will need to make winter easier. When they found the fur dealer in town, they bought some excellent hats, mitts and mukluks for winter wear. They got some military surplus flight pants and parkas, then some bunny boots, which look like cartoon bunny feet. Big white air cushioned military surplus. I think they are the warmest boots ever made and feet sweat in them, very badly, but they don’t freeze.
These guys have some money to spend so they can just go buy what they need. It would be easy to be jealous of that, but they are so nice and they share when we need something before we even realize what they are doing. They earned it, so no matter what, it is their right to use it as they want. I am super thrilled when Shari drives down the hill at their place in a little 6 wheeled ATV that looks like a small pickup. It has room for 2 people and a small dumpbed on the back for hauling dirt or whatever. That is the cutest little vehicle and she says it is very fuel efficient. She has been dragging wood down to their house from the woods out back with it. Their dogs love running along beside her. I am glad she is never totally alone out there.
She is starting to show her baby bump fairly well and says she is not sick at all now. Will cuts and hooks up the logs, she drags them down and unhooks, then back for the next load he has ready. I ride up and back with her on her next trip, but don’t want to slow them down as they have a good system going. So after one trip, I go over to see how Rose and Kara are doing. Kara has the shack open and I get an ice cream, then go on down the hill to see
her Mom.
Rose is peeling posts to use as the uprights for her next woodshed. She has cleared out the area and leveled it some with the grub hoe. She said with the loose hydraulics on the backhoe, she would probably take out a wall of the house if she tried digging with it. She has hauled quite a bit of gravel to make the floor of the shed. She asked the guys to pick up any old rugs they find at the Transfer Stations for added floor in the woodsheds. Some that they have found are so nice, she is storing them in the shop. They will be fine in the small cabins she has been building for guests or family to have privacy if they visit.
I like that idea and have used my old little cabin that way, too. I should put up a couple more and can use them for dry storage if needed. Maybe put them out through the woods on my place, not in my yard. That is what Rose is doing. A cabin here, a cabin there. Privacy and quiet for everyone. When I get home, the pets are acting nervous and jumpy but soon settle down. I still get that feeling like someone is watching, once in a while and I guess it gets to the animals, also.
I decide to do laundry and go to get the sheets out of the little cabin. Someone has used it since the guys and did not make the bed as nicely as they did. Dang, I better start locking things again. Maybe the feeling of being watched was for real. Nothing seems to be missing, at least.
Pal sticks close to me while I do the laundry, I am glad of his company. Now I wonder what I did without a dog for so long. I know he would let me know before anyone came in the yard or got too close.
After hanging clothes and as the next load is washing, I go turn hay along my driveway and the small amount left out along the roadway. Some is ready to pick up, so I load it in the pickup.
I unload the hay after adding the rinse water, and turn the hay on the pallets. It is getting as dry as it needs to be, so I will have to hurry up on the barn.
After hanging the last load of clothes, I start on the barn walls again. I place heavy duty frames around future windows. Then back to the rocks and concrete. I am having a hard time going up a ladder with rocks or concrete so I guess it is time to switch over to log sections. First, I place the bolts in concrete along the top of the wall, then drill holes in the plank I will use on top the rocks to nail the log sections to. I place the planks before the concrete is set up, I may not have drilled the holes totally straight and want it to actually fit. Probably not the right way, but it should work. I have set bolts on up through the planks, also, to put through the log sections as I don’t think nails will hold it very well. It’s a good thing I had a lot of those long bolts.
The guys show up after I have finished cleaning up the concrete mess. They are a bit upset that I didn’t wait for them to do the heavy stuff. Well, they have stuff to do also and why should they feel obligated to come do my work?
This concrete seems to be the quickset stuff, so we go ahead and start stacking the logs I cut earlier. We have to measure and drill, but it still goes quickly. Soon we have it high enough to set the poles across for the floor support for upstairs. I will probably need some more pier blocks and add some uprights down the center of the building to support the weight of the upstairs floor if I start storing much up there, like feed and hay. Well, hay anyway. I mark where I would like an overhead haymow. It will go directly over the widest door downstairs. If I put in a pulley system and hooks, I can fill the loft with it.
After the logs on the walls are notched out and the poles placed across, we continue stacking the logs up another 4 feet for the side walls. If I had more logs, I would build the side walls higher, but I don’t. I will have to frame in the rest of the gable ends. The guys want to know if I want a regular barn shaped roof on it. I am not sure how to make one of those. Roman says he does, and if I want, we can do it. However, we will have to build trusses for that. I am not sure I have materials for trusses, and have never used them. I am running low on salvaged materials with all these projects.
It is so late by now, my stomach is complaining loudly about the lack of food. Kara closed a while ago, so can’t even go get a sandwich from her. I do have some pocket bread I made last night, so I can heat some chili and stuff those. So I invite the guys in and start opening chili and heating it. Then chopping some green onions from the garden and shred some cheese into a bowl. This will be a simple meal, but I hope it fills them up. I fix a large bowl of salad to go along with the chili and have some leftover chocolate fudge cake on the counter. Not the best meal I ever prepared, but not the worst, either. I set the salad on the table and the items to add to their sandwiches, then fill the pocket bread and place on plates and set around the table. Everyone is quick to sit and start in. I never have to worry about leftovers with this group.
Roman says we should build the floor upstairs then build the trusses on the floor to raise into place. Much easier than building them on the ground, then lifting up almost 2 stories into place. Makes sense to me. Noah places a gentle kiss on my lips as they go out the door, just a hint and a whisper of a kiss.
In the morning, I am up and hauling all the 2×6’s I can find over to the barn. Maybe I have enough to do the floor. I also need to place the future staircase. Too bad I don’t have one of the pull down staircases, although they might be hard to use carrying a load. I think I will leave open spaces to fork hay down into hay racks for feeding. Maybe make a small raised edge around each one so I don’t just walk off into open air some winter day while feeding. So, I need to place where things are going to go, downstairs before trying to do much upstairs.
I think I will put a small room in the center to store dry feed in, easier than hauling large bags up stairs and then back down to feed. That will help support the upstairs, also. I think I should add a chimney so I can heat the barn if needed. Not sure where to put a chimney with hay in the upstairs. Maybe an insulated pipe out through the downstairs wall and then up at the gable end of the building. It won’t have as good a draft, but it should still work. I will have to put a cleanout at the bottom of the elbow so I can brush the pipe often, since it will be outdoors. Now to check all the stovepipe I have stored. I think I have an insulated elbow. I can strap the pipe to the building all the way up, to support it, if I use a metal pipe to strap it to, then strap that to the building.
While I am sorting through pipe, the hair on the back of my neck feels like it is rising. I whirl around and see someone duck in behind some trees, farther out in the forest. Dang, what a time to forget to bring Pal with me. I know better
. I pretend not to know the man is there and slide my handgun into my hand and start walking back up the hill to the house. After I get to the upper edge of the trees, I fire a couple of shots into a stump, just as warning. I don’t know who this is, and it could be one of the guys from Shari’s home town or just some fool looking for access to the land below mine. Either way, I am not happy about it. When I get to the house, I let Pal out and keep him near me. I worry that someone may hurt him if he catches them on my property. I’m not too worried about them, they take their chances if they are trespassing.
As the days progress, we finish up my barn, and I put the now dry hay up in the loft. I cut more as I found it and started putting the pallets in the barn and drying the grass in there. We are going into August and it is usually our rainy season. We have been lucky to have a dry summer so far and no local fires to worry about
. Rose’s new woodshed is finished and starting to be filled. I have panned a small amount of gold out and sold it. It was enough to buy some much needed supplies and 2 young goats. I was lucky enough to find 2 that are unrelated, a male and a female. Now I will have to build some fences as goat proof as possible. Especially around my garden. I also bought as many seed packets from a local nursery of Alaskan type seeds. Most are heirloom, so if possible, maybe I can save seeds from them.
Carefully, I pack them in a cannng jar with a good lid and store it out in the ice house. I also store several boxes of ammo out in the ice house in canning jars with good lids. These are placed in an old tote that fits in behind the shelf unit I built in the back. I placed an old handgun in the tote, wrapped in an oily rag and then in a ziplock plastic bag. The inner and outer doors are always locked on this building, so I consider them quite secure. Later, I add a shotgun and shells for it, also. Since I seem to have folks hanging around in the woods, I cover everything I carry to the ice house, so no one can see what is being stored. I’m starting to feel a bit paranoid.

The Beginning – chapter 22

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 22
Noah, his Dad and brother drive in about the time I think I better quit on this job and take care of the other chores needing done. They have brought concrete, from the dog run they built and had left over. Well, maybe I am not so tired after all and the other chores will still be there.
With all of us working, it doesn’t take long to have it looking like real walls. It will still need more concrete, to continue, but it looks really good. We placed rough cut lumber in slots in the walls to frame in 2 doors, then built the rocks up around them. One 4 foot wide and the other 3 feet wide at the other end of the barn. We did not place then at the side closest to the driveway, so have to go to one end or the other to enter. Seems like a good idea at the moment.
I run in and add dumplings on top the stew I have simmering on the stove. I think it will feed us all. I have some canned blueberries left from last year, so stick them on and add dumplings on top of them, too. Not a very well rounded meal, but it is filling. I think as long as there is any type of dessert, the guys will like it. Too bad there is no ice cream to put the hot berries and dumplings on. The guys finish cleaning up the mess from mixing and working with concrete and come in for dinner. I was right, they will eat anything with any type of bread on or in it. The stew is new produce from the garden, not enough of any one thing to make a meal, but several small amounts of quite a variety. I added a jar of cooked burger that had not sealed from the canning at Rose’s. A bit of powdered broth adds rich flavor and it is filling.
Will and Shari have been going to town and buying a lot of supplies. Food, building and clothing, both for themselves and the new addition they are expecting. Shari wants to be set to stay out here without having to drive when the roads are bad in winter. On one of their trips, they bring back a load of concrete and tell me Happy Birthday. They had found a super sale on it, in town and could not resist. My birthday is not for a few months yet and I try to refuse such a wonderful gift. Shari gets a bit bent out of shape and says after all I have done for them, it is also a big thank you.
Wow, how can I refuse? This is enough to do the barn and the floor in the ice house and chicken coop. Maybe even some for part of the floor in the barn. This is a lot of concrete. They borrowed Roman’s trailer and had it full and covered, just in case of rain. So far we have been lucky on our building projects with no actual heavy rain. Each of us have a sense of needing to get as much done as we can and stock up on all we can afford. No one wants to talk about it, but the urgency is there.
Prices on food have been going up so fast, it shows, week to week on the shopping trips to town. The shelves in a lot of the stores have been very thinly stocked and some have moved the shelf units farther apart to make it look like they have more supplies. Sometimes it is hard to find items normally considered staple goods. Now it is buy it when you see it, it may not be available next trip in. I really need to do more panning before the next trip to town. Maybe I can buy the goat or two I have been wanting.
I better start cutting grass to dry for hay. I have an old scythe and although it has been years since I used one, I guess I can get used to it again. My main problem will be how to dry it. I will have to cut along the roadway, as I don’t have enough ground cleared and growing grass. The seed heads are forming on the native grasses, so I better start my cutting program in the next few days. It is a good thing the highway department is lax about mowing along the main roads.
I start early the next day, and soon find my rhythm. However, not too long after, I also find I have not done this in years and am going to be in pain in a large way, very soon. I better quit this for today. Maybe pound rocks or something easy.
I start working on the barn walls again. The walls are a good foot thick, maybe thicker. I’m not being too careful on making them totally even, it is still a barn. However, I am trying for fairly straight. I would rather the walls not fall down because I tilted them too much.
Rose shows up about the time I am totally worn out. She has brought me part of a roll of used roofing membrane to use as waterproofing against the sides of the building before dirt berming it. She has a lot of it, and is sharing it. We walk around the project and she comments on certain points. She suggests I make high narrow windows on first floor and use Plexiglas in them to keep it warmer and not so easy to break. That sounds like a good idea, I didn’t want it dark in there, but also didn’t want it easy to damage. We talk about how high the ceiling should be, on the ground floor. She says she usually goes for 7 feet at least. That way it doesn’t feel so much like it is a cave and still low enough for holding heat in. She suggests I add a chimney just in case I ever have to heat it. If a goat is birthing, in cold weather, may increase the chances of survival for the young one and mother, both. She also suggests I insulate the upper floor just in case I don’t want to heat the upstairs storage, also. If I have enough insulation, I may do that. Hay doesn’t need heated.
I need to find enough long poles, strong enough to span the distance to place in the walls to support the floor for upstairs. Down near the river are some stands of spruce that are needing thinned but are fairly straight and tall. I may just go liberate, ummm, borrow, some of those.
By evening, I am so tired and sore I feel like I have been run over by a truck or two. When Noah shows up, he hands me a weed whacker with a chain instead of string head on it. He said his Dad had it in the shop trailer and he thought it might be easier to cut hay with. Oh my, I think this is probably one of the nicer things anyone has ever done for me. The next morning, I can barely move as I slide out of bed and creakingly stand up. I have aches where I didn’t even know I had muscles. I slowly stretch and move and soon I have loosened up enough to get dressed and start the day. Okay, I guess the scythe is something to work into slowly.
After the morning chores, I take the weed whacker out and start along the roadway again. Oh yeah, this is a much better idea. It cuts the grass right at the ground and even small saplings. Goats won’t mind the saplings, either. I check the grass I cut yesterday and it seems to be drying very well. I brought a rake along with me, and rake it into small windrows along the road to pick up later. I will have hay before I have a barn. But it has to be cut while the seed heads are full but not dropping yet or it is straw and worthless as animal food. After raking, I go back to cutting, again. I would like to have enough to fill the loft of the little barn.
The weed whacker is much easier on my back, arms and body in general. I think I love that man. Well, extreme like anyway. He is so thoughtful, good worker, helpful and nice, just plain nice. Well, he is pretty good to look at, also. The fact that he is an excellent kisser is beside the point, we have been very careful not to repeat that.
I cut all along my driveway and down to the house, then go out and down to the wood lot, also. I had nice wide sides on the roads, to act as partial firebreaks, so there was a lot of good thick grass along that. This sure makes my place look good. The main road is looking better, also.
I place some pallets side by side and make a raised area, near the barn but out of the way a bit. Then I take the pickup out and gather the hay I had windrowed. I placed it in one pile on the pallets. Then I gathered the first grass I had cut this morning. I spread it out better on the rest of the pallets to dry more. I continue picking up the cut hay and spreading it on the pallets until I have quite a lot spread out and no more room to spread it. It needed dried better so couldn’t pile it. I would have to go turn it every day until it was dry.
A lot of the stuff I cut along the main road had clover in it, in full bloom. That would be excellent hay and I needed to keep it separate a bit from the plain grass hay. Maybe I should pick up some clover seed in town and scatter it along my roads on the property. It won’t help this year, but should improve next year’s hay crop.
After my day of haying, I am beat, yet again. Even using the weed whacker, I am sore and tired. I grab my chainsaw and go down near the river and cut enough long fairly straight poles to use as support for the loft floor in the barn. When I limbed them, I cut fairly close so there won’t be much peeling to do on these. I’m glad spruce is so much lighter than Birch, small trees are easy to load and tie down on the pickup. They may drag once in a while, so I have to be careful. They aren’t the only thing dragging. By this time, most of the new woodsheds are fairly full. Having 2 years’ supply of firewood on hand is wonderful. Every time I think of ever having to cut wood by hand, I cringe inside and vow to keep at least a full year ahead. What if my saw breaks, what if I can’t afford gas, the possibilities are endless.

The Beginning – chapter 18

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 18

After dinner, we sit around talking about the small community we seem to be making, here. Yes, we are spread out quite a bit, but it is still a community of sorts. There are other people living a bit farther away from us, but not many of them. We talk about meeting them, but decide it would be better to include Rose and Kara in that discussion.
Everyone finally decides it is time to get some sleep, and we all go our separate ways. The long daylight hours make it hard to realize we have talked half the night away.
The next morning, I head over to see Rose after getting my chores done around the place and refilling my water tank for showers and laundry. I love that spring. She is up at the cabin the guys are building, so we go check how they are progressing. They have a woodstove set up in the downstairs room and pipe out the roof. They could stay in here if they needed to, before cold weather. Roman has put laminate flooring down, on both floors. This is going to be a very nice little cabin. The guys have most of the insulation in and are working on putting the foil faced foam board up over the fiberglas insulation. It makes a thermal break so heat doesn’t transfer out at each stud and rafter. They have taped the foam board seams, also. Then a good vapor barrier over that, with the seams taped and taped around the electrical outlets also. They cut small pieces of the foam board to place inside each outlet box and have caulked where the wire comes through to cut heat loss, ice buildup and drafts. The
guys are following Rose’s building pattern that she used for the houses built here. It seems to work well. They have large homes and very easy to heat. This little cabin should be easy to heat and very comfortable, no matter what the weather.
They are fixing a small shower stall and toilet under the staircase and to the other wall. The door will open from the kitchen area. Roman dug an outhouse hole just behind the cabin, and is piping the bathroom directly into it. They will have a kitchen sink with a pipe running into it, also. He will place a vent pipe up the back of the outhouse to near the roof of the house, for odors. This is going to be one very nice little cabin. Amazing what you can do if you have a little bit of money and can buy new. Kara comes up to open the shack and we all go over and take up the discussion from last night at my house. Will and Shari pulled in about that time, so that was perfect.
Some customers pull in and Kara is busy for a bit, so we wait until she is free again to start. Shari actually starts the conversation about us being a community. That girl is getting some backbone out here. When she finishes, Roman says a few words, then Will chips in and Noah. Rose and Kara take it all in and think it over. They agree that we are a loosely knit community and maybe we should start meeting others in the area. Kara says some have been coming in to buy meals and cigarettes. So she can talk to them a bit more. Some are very much out here too be left alone. She was on pretty good terms with most, as they knew she also did not welcome visitors to just stop on a whim, if she didn’t know them.
Lots of people were curious about the houses here and the whole area, but most actually did pay attention to the road signs and word did get around after Kara shot over the heads of some guys that were determined to use the driveway for access to the property on down the hill from here. Kara got a lot of business from folks that were just plain curious about what was in here. Why on earth the State decided on making remote parcel staking available near here, I will never know. There really is no access to it. So Rose and Kara get to deal with a bunch of jerks. The guys coming out to stake weren’t so great, either.
Kara says she will mention to the other folk in the area as they stop in, about us all being a bit more of a community for helping each other if in need or someone injured. One fellow had almost froze last winter as he fell and broke his ankle and couldn’t get firewood in very well. He had crawled in and out, dragging one piece at a time, every day and his ankle still wasn’t too good. It had healed solid, so didn’t bend now. We wondered if we should haul a load of firewood over and drop it off at his house, just as a hello and sorry he wasn’t doing so great.
Noah drove down to the river to see if the guy clearing his lot had more trees too get rid of, and he had about another trailer load. So the guys went down and loaded it up. Rose rode along with the guys to deliver it, as she knew where the man lived and had spoke to him a couple of times. Kara sent a sandwich, the kind he had ordered, when he had stopped in a couple of times.
He lived just a short distance beyond my place, so I followed them as far as my place and went home. Later, Noah told me the man was very surprised to see them and after Rose talked to him, he was okay with the delivery. The guys unloaded the logs and he said he could cut them up and he appreciated the thought, wasn’t sure he wanted them to ever do it again though. Rose gave him the to-go box and they backed out and came home. Well, to Rose’s place which for the time is their home too. As nice as the little cabin is, that they are building, it looks like they could be settling in for a very long time.
The guys head on in to town after dropping Rose off. They want to get more supplies to finish up the cabin and start stocking it a bit. It’s a good thing the building supply store is open early in the morning and late into the evening, in summer. They hauled everyone’s trash in, since they took the trailer, also
. When the guys come back, we know they have found the joys of visiting the transfer stations in Fairbanks. These are areas set aside, with roofs over them and concrete pad for folks to set out stuff that is too good to trash and not the time and energy to sell. They have found older cabinets they need for the kitchen and possibly a propane cook stove, with pilot light instead of electronic ignition, if it works. Those are hard to find for folks living way out with no electricity. They also had some used windows and doors on the trailer. Everything looked in excellent condition. I have found clothes folded and set out still warm from a dryer. Most of my carhartt pants are from there. I certainly can’t afford to buy them.
They had managed to make it to the supply store and had some nice light fixtures to hang in the cabin, a sink and more sewer line, some counter top and some totes they have filled with groceries. On the very back of the trailer, they have some polydrums of fuel. We need to get their woodshed built, so they have an area to place those without water getting in them or anyone seeing what they have on hand.
They had picked up some more of the pier blocks, so we would start on their woodshed in the morning. They laid out the size and set the pier blocks this evening. I will come over in the morning to help.
Noah is late getting to my place and telling me all about this, as he is unloading some bags of groceries in my kitchen. I’m not sure what he is doing, but he explains they have ate so much at my place, they felt guilty, so wanted to replace some. Knowing I don’t have electricity, they bought cans of dried storage foods, which is great but expensive. They did buy a couple of 50 pound bags of flour and of sugar, also. He said they really like the breads and cinnamon rolls.
I will save the cans of dried foods and continue feeding them bear, hare and whatever else I manage to kill around the area. I would like to get some more of those, could store them in the back of the ice house in totes to keep them dry. Maybe I should pan the creek some more and see if I can afford to buy a supply.
Very early the next morning, I went down to the little creek down the hill and panned a while. It is hard on my back, so I don’t stay long. I do find some color and save it in a small bottle. This is going to take some time to earn enough for groceries and fuel. I need to pick up some more chains for my chainsaw, spark plugs and bar oil.
By the time I get back to the house, it is time for breakfast and then over to build another woodshed. I stash the pan behind the seat in my pickup and heat up a bun for breakfast.
Noah shows up just as I have it ready to eat, so I run out the door with tool belt in one hand and hot toasted bun in the other. He asks if it is for him. Oh darn, I tear it in half and hand him half as I get in the truck. He looks slightly guilty but goes ahead and eats it.
We pull in as the rest are starting to place the first post. By now we have this down to a routine. This woodshed should go up very fast. By noon, we have it ready to roof. Noah goes over and buys me a sandwich to make up for eating half my breakfast. Well, maybe I will share better after this.
I visit with Kara while I eat. We talk a bit about getting supplies on hand. She thinks it is better to have extra of everything. Bad weather, anything, can make it difficult to restock and the last couple of years, the stores in Fairbanks are noted for being out of stock on a lot of items needed. It always comes in, but we don’t go to town often enough to keep checking for new stock on the shelves.
So she and Rose have been trying to keep as much on hand as possible and replacing anything as they use it. Sounds like a good idea to me. I think everyone out here is on limited income, one way or another, so we can’t afford to just go to town even if we wanted to make that long trip every few days. At least all the locals or long term
folk are. Rose offers me a ride home so Noah can stay and help roof the woodshed and whatever other projects they need to do. They will probably go check and see if the guy has any more wood they can salvage. Later, I find they have gotten about a full load, but he is almost done.
Rose was interested in all I had built here. She had never been over here before. Most of us out here are private people and give others their privacy, also. She says great minds think alike as we have done a lot of similar things on our properties. She weeded as we walked through the gardens just like I was. It’s hard not to do things you see needing done.
We went in the house and she liked my artwork, suggesting I come see some of hers, also. It is funny, we had never met, but had worked in a lot of the same fields. Guiding, taxidermy, mining and several others.
She had been a Registered Guide, I, a 1st class Assistant. Whatever, it is hard work. The was what her place was supposed to have been. A hunting and aurora watching lodge. Her partners never coughed up the money and she spent every dime buying the land. So she refused to add their names on the title and another reason she makes everyone sign a lease.
Alaska has an Adverse Possession Law. After 7 years of claiming property, a person can advertise the owner out. A woman near here was being nice and allowed the folks with property beyond hers to cut across her land to reach theirs. They served her with Court papers to give them the Right to that strip of her land and she lost it. They had used it free for 7 years and never bothered to build the driveway that was platted, to theirs. Then they sold their property and hers went with it, no longer hers and no Right to stop others from using it. Really makes a person want to do good deeds
. After Rose left, I started a batch of bread dough. It seems to go quite fast. I think I will make large buns and a loaf of bread. The cinnamon rolls are a given
. As I am taking the rolls out of the oven, Noah and his Dad and brother pull in. They are going looking for areas to cut firewood. They figure maybe they can deal with some of the mine owners up the road, to clear the trees out of their way. They immediately decide a short break is in order and have a cinnamon roll and one to go on. A good thing these guys work hard or they might get fat here.
I stick a couple on a paper towel and go work in the greenhouse. I must be losing it dreaming about lovely melted chocolate eyes, and ate one without even noticing, because when I go over to the paper towel, there is only one on it. Unless the Jays are getting into the shelf in the greenhouse. Or a squirrel.
I have a pot of stew on the stove from the remains of the bear. It is getting pretty slim pickings. I am glad I canned every bit, it has came in handy often this summer. So when the guys pull back in to let me know how it went, they have dinner with me. Stew and buns, filled with melted cheese. Then another cinnamon roll for dessert. I wonder if they will ever get tired of those.
I ride over to Rose’s the next morning, to see if there are any projects needing attention. I find Rose and Kara cutting up the firewood and stacking it in the woodshed. They are also stacking the stack they had against the house over in the other half of the shed. We work until shortly before noon, then Kara goes to get cleaned up and head up to open the shack.
Rose and I walk down to her house. It is very large and nice looking. She has a sun porch across the front and grows salad veggies on it in winter. In winter, it is a large walk-in fridge, too. Not very warm, so only cold weather crops survive most of the winter on it. She transplants what she has late started, just for that. I really like her artwork. Most is in a soft black and white and portray animals and people, not many people. Some oils and some pen and ink.
She also has published some books. She says they are only self published, not like a publisher bought them and did it for her. She says it is one way to earn a bit of extra money living way out here. They have internet when the generators are on, she says if I have a laptop, I can bring it over at free time which is between 10 pm and 2 am. The system doesn’t work very well, but out here, it is nice, anyway.

The Beginning – Chapter 16

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 16
After I get home, I feed my chicks that are looking long and leggy now. The little roosters are trying to crow once in a while and sound funny. I hurry and pick a bunch of small weeds from the garden and bring them over to dump in the pen for them. Then I check out how the ice house is looking and if I need more gravel. It seems to be firming up nicely as it dries so maybe it will be fine. I start up the tiller and run it between the rows quickly to make the garden look better and not let the weeds get too good a start on me. I use the rake on the sides of the hills so all that is left is the actual rows on top of each hill to pull weeds out of and I have been keeping them pulled fairly well for the chicks.
After I go in the house, I reheat some leftovers and eat as I sort through laundry needing folded. I figured I would have it all ready to need washed again if I waited long enough to fold it. Certainly was working out that way, right now. I tossed all the underwear and socks into a basket and did fold the T shirts and pants. A pair of the Carhardt pants for working in tomorrow and a long sleeved T shirt would work well. It is my standard day to day wear. T shirt color changes and sometimes the pants, too, depending on which pair gets worn. I dress for comfort while I work, not for anyone’s fashion sense. A pair of athletic shoes finishes the outfit. I’m set for tomorrow. We can probably have the cabin ready for a roof by tomorrow evening. That part I will be willing to leave to the guys. I’m up early the next morning and have transplanted a few more shrubs around the new ice house. It is starting to look like it has been there a while and blending in with the surroundings rather well. The moss and bushes in the surface I had cut out in chunks has apparently not suffered too much and is growing right back.
As I walk over to the woodshed, Pal presses against my leg and a low growl rumbles through him. I stop and look around, trying to see what is bothering him. Pretty soon he relaxes and we continue walking to the woodshed. Now he has me feeling jumpy, so when Noah walks around the corner of the woodshed a bit later, I nearly jump out of my shoes.
“Oh, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to scare you.” he says as he steps into the shed.
“Well, it wasn’t exactly you that scared me. Pal was growling at something out back here and then you said hi and I wasn’t expecting it.” I reply
. He is suddenly all business, “What did you see and did you hear anything?”
“Not really, maybe some brush crackling on down over the bank. I’m not sure.” I don’t feel too secure and am happy to have Pal and Noah both staying here. He asks if he should move his camper up to my yard and right now, that sounds pretty good. So I say sure
. After the camper is loaded and moved up the hill to my yard we leave it on the truck and use mine to go over to help on his Dad’s cabin. Odd, when Roman and Thad will both be living in it and are both paying for the materials, we all call it Roman’s cabin.
We unload Roman’s pickup and start loading stuff up onto the 2nd floor for the walls. In short order, we are in production again and walls are being built. Rose had us leave the siding stick up and cut slots wide enough for the rafters every 2 feet. We taped the wrap to the top of each piece to hold it in place until the rafters were on. This gave the top of the side walls the appearance of arrow slots. The side walls were the short sides of the cabin and only 6 feet high. The gable ends were across the long section and went up to 12 feet at the top of the point. This gave more height and more light into the upstairs room and a good pitch to the roof for snow to slide off. The ridge beam would be shorter, too. 20 feet instead of 28 feet. Much lighter for us to place after the walls were all up. We assembled the beam across the floor on the second floor, using 2“ x 12“s, liquid nails and strips of plywood between another 2“x12“. The beam was 3 2”x12”s wide Rose cut the ends slightly tapered so they would look finished.
I had brought my ladders and Rose and Kara had ladders, so did Roman, in his trailer, so we had plenty of ladders for everyone to be able to walk the beam up the ladders and slide into it’s slot on each end. Even with all of us it was still heavy and awkward but we didn’t drop it. We did almost put it in upside down, but caught that mistake seconds before it became reality. Kara said they had actually done that on one of hers. Very difficult to lift back up out of the slots and turn, once it is in.
The top plates are nailed on the side walls and it is ready to start putting up rafters. For a crew of amateurs, we are doing pretty darn good.
We load the rafters up to the 2nd floor and wish we had done it when we loaded the wall material as it would have been much easier, even if we had too keep moving it out of our way as we worked. Rose marked out where to cut the birds mouths and lined them up with that side up, walked down them with her chainsaw and made the first cut on all of them at once. Then a slight notch where the angle cut started to finish. As each rafter was turned on its side, she cut from the notch to the end of the other cut and had the birds mouths cut. The notches to fasten the outside rafters to the inside rafters were cut with the chainsaw also. The lower ends would rest on the top plate extensions we had made. But a little extra support never hurts. With such a small cabin, putting the rafters on didn’t take much time. We crisscrossed them over the ridge beam and nailed them together.
There were only small pieces sticking out to be trimmed off and the chainsaw again worked very well for that. Two of us on ladders started on fastening the house wrap over the rafters. We overlapped the walls a small amount, then cut and taped the wrap down in to the wrap left up from the wall. A 1×2 tacked on top the 2×12 rafter held the house wrap firmly in place. Then we moved on to the next rafter and repeated the operation. This cabin would be water resistant by the time we were done and not a drop of rain hit the inside to dampen the insulation in the floor.
The wrap on top of the rafters with the 1×2’s on top, will keep the insulation from poofing up and touching the roof, and making it a hot roof with ice buildup in winter. Any space at all between the insulation and the metal roof will allow air circulation and make it a cold roof
. As we wrapped the rafters, the guys were placing nailer strips over the 1×2’s on the rafters, from ladders against the walls. It looks like Roman bought 1×6’s to use to fasten the roofing to. We made a box and fastened it between the rafters to hold the chimney and for the guys to see where to go around with the nailers. We taped the house wrap down inside it and hoped no rain would enter before a chimney was added.
Kara opened the shack at noon and I headed down to see how Will and Shari were doing. As I started out the driveway, they were pulling in. They had come to help on the cabin. Oops, well, they were surprised.
Will asked Roman to mark out where he wanted electric lines and he would put them in for him. Roman went around the walls, marking for outlets and switches for overhead lights with magic marker.
Shari apologized for their being late, she had been barfing up the last years worth of food, she thought and wondered how anyone gained weight when pregnant if this lasted very long.
Shari and I pulled wire as Will drilled holes and placed outlet boxes. As soon as she knew what to do, I went back up and started on helping upstairs.
I tied a nail to a string and tacked it to the upper edge of the chimney box in the roof. Where it hit the floor would be where the hole would need cut for the chimney to come up from downstairs. I sure hope it is between floor joists. Well, it only needs a little bit of adjusting and it will be fine. I draw the outline in magic marker where they will need to cut to put the insulated pipe support piece.
Then Rose and I start on installing the doors. Roman has bought 2 very nice metal clad insulated doors with a window in it. Wow, I have never worked with a new door before. We only have to shim in a couple of spots and it slides right in. We have them screwed in place before the guys even notice what we were doing. Then they yell a little bit that it was too heavy for us to be lifting. Well, fiddle, it is in, isn’t it? Guys. Rose and I grin at each other and just keep on working. It is kind of nice to have guys actually want to do the heavy stuff.
It is a large step up into the cabin, at the front door, so Rose and I bring over a large heavy duty pallet and place it on some flat stones and level it out. Then we add a couple of boards so it only has narrow spaces between boards so no one will go between boards on their way in. When Roman comes around the corner, he thanks us and says he would like to build an entryway porch later, to have a place to hang coats and to cut the wind coming in the door when going in or out of the house.
He has several sheets of T 1-11 siding left over and offers to put it on the outside of the shop Rose has, down the hill as she has never been able to side her shop. Some of the extra house wrap to go under it, too. She is speechless and almost tears up a bit, but then says yes, that would be wonderful. He pulls out 3 sheets to use for his porch and the rest he loads back on his pickup. He says with the trim left from the window cutouts and the walls, he will have plenty for a nice porch now
. Rose, Kara and I will leave the rest of the cabin work to the guys as they don’t seem to mind being on ladders or roofs. With the house wrap over the rafters, the roof will shed light rain and should be okay inside until they can get the roof on. Rose had requested metal roofing as it is pretty much a lifetime roof and fire proof, also. It has a steep enough pitch to shed snow fairly well, also. No one should ever have to get back on it. Rose and I walk over to the shack and talk to Kara a bit. Rose tells her the guys are going to put the leftover T 1-11 siding on the shop for her. We all just stand there, thinking of the difference in people. These 3 men not only said they would do something, they actually got right in and did it. Sometimes they didn’t even say anything, they just stepped right up and started helping.
Rose says the spring is still running very well, even with the dry weather we have been having. She has been able to water the gardens and greenhouses from it and most of the laundry, too. She said it tastes good, also, although she didn’t have it tested. Mine has been doing very well. Shari comes over about that time and she is happy with the small spring they have, too. She said they were digging a small ditch bringing it closer to the house and garden. She was planting wild rose bushes all around the edges of the clearing their house was in. She loved the flowers and wanted to make rosehip jelly and catsup. I think that is a very good idea and I will be planting more around my place, too. Maybe similar to a hedge, even. Some raspberry plants here and there with the rose bushes. Good things to eat and a nice stickery hedge. No down side to that.
Will and Roman flip for who gets to buy us all dinner. Thad says it isn’t too fair to Kara as she still has to fix it for us. She laughs and says she certainly doesn’t mind and what would we all like to eat? We each place our orders and she starts preparing our meals. I could get used to this and very spoiled. I have eaten out more often in the last month than I have in the last several years.
While we are eating, we talk about the next project needing done. Kara needs a woodshed which to me is the most important and then we need to fill it. Will and Shari also need a bigger woodshed and it filled. Rose has most of her woodshed filled, but another stack or two would be good, just to have on hand. I don’t think it is possible to have too much on hand. Also, Roman and Thad should have a woodshed and firewood if they are planning on staying
Roman plans on another trip to town tomorrow morning, early, for materials to finish up the cabin. Insulation, foam board, vapor barrier and plywood. Some light fixtures and electrical outlets, maybe some plumbing stuff, too. He asked if any of us needed anything from town. No one did, so we all said good evening and headed our separate ways.

The Beginning – Chapter 15

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 15
Rose asks what they expect to have supplied in exchange for working. Roman tells her he is retired and tired. Tired of living in town with nothing to do. Thad wants to spend the summer with his Dad and also, out of town. He is tired of the women wanting to go bar hopping as their idea of fun.
Noah has just finished up his job and no plans made for getting another any time soon. He took the job thinking it would be a nice way to meet folks out along the road system and decide where he would like to settle down and build. Seems as soon as the local folk heard he was from the government, most were less than polite, so that idea wasn’t so great.
All 3 guys wanted an out of town Alaskan experience. Rose said if they really did, they could start by building themselves a place to stay. She said she didn’t have money, she had land and they were welcome to stay on some of it, as long as they were willing to sign a lease and go by her not allowing alcohol or drugs on the place.
Noah asked if he could continue staying in his camper on my place at present and maybe help out now and then, also, on both places. “I guess, although it will be pretty cold come Winter.”
He says by then, his Dad and brother should have a cozy place ready, if he comes and helps out a lot every day or so. His brother smacks him and says they won’t need his help, they are big strong capable men that know how to do stuff, except maybe cook well. Of course Noah smacks him back and soon they were being overaged boys, trying to get the best hold. When their Dad said Boys in that tone of voice, we knew it was something they had heard often in their life and they both instantly stopped. Yes, it looks like they were raised right.
Roman and Thad will stay in Roman’s trailer tonight and then see what needs done to build a nice small place for them to live a while.
Noah comes back to his camper on my place. “I hope you don’t mind, I enjoy staying here and we work well together, I think.” he says.
I have to agree. Besides being nice to look at, he is a lot of help and pleasant company. Without his help, it would have taken me a lot longer to get the firewood and woodshed done. Plus the help from Will and Shari really put me ahead of my self imposed schedule for summer jobs on my place.
I feel bad for Will and Shari, having yet another body show up on their place. I don’t know if they will want to stay in their house yet or not. However, this time, it should not be of interest to the Troopers as nothing pointed to it being involved and they already had all the evidence they had taken when there the last time.
The next day, I go on over to see Rose and Kara. As we talk, I ask if they have all the firewood in that they will need for the coming winter. Rose says she is working on enough for another winter, besides, just in case she can’t get out and do it. Kara still has a little bit left to get for a years supply and would like to finish up her woodshed. I suggest we all come work here a few days to get the immediate jobs done and then go help Will and Shari get their place ready for winter. They have never wintered here and no idea of what to get done. With only the 2 of them and her pregnant, it could be hard on them. Rose and Kara exchange looks and agree. Since we have extra help, we can make use of it. We talk a bit more and decide to see if the men have decided what they want to build and if they would like assistance on it as part of the jobs to do here.
We all head over to the trailer where they are staying and soon we are walking around and looking the area over. Since the trailer is parked in an out of the way area on the old roadbed and it is as compacted as a person could wish for, for building pad, they ask if it is okay to build right there. It would simplify snow removal, also. Rose and Kara snickered and I knew I would have to find out later, why.
Roman liked the shop Rose had built below her house, so they were going for simple, and easy, like it is. They did decide to use 2×6’s instead of 2x4s for the walls like Rose had. She said she would have, too, if she had the money at the time. It is 16’x24’ and 2 story with both stories open and no interior walls to block space. Plenty of room for 2 people to be comfortable as Kara had lived in the shop 2 winters with 3 teenagers, 2 dogs and 8 cats and they all survived it.
The guys drew up a material list and headed in to town to pick up at least enough to start the project. Rose, Kara and I decided to all head over to see how Will and Shari were making out. Also to see if our idea on lending a hand was okay.
Shari was out in the greenhouse when we pulled in. Will was out behind it, weeding a bit in the garden near the greenhouse. They both were wearing handguns which we had all suggested to them a while back. A rifle or shotgun is effective, but hard to carry while working. If you have set it down somewhere while working, it isn’t going to do you any good when you need it in a hurry.
They both looked like they could use a break, so our visit wasn’t too much of an interruption. Shari was having a time with morning sickness and looked a bit peaked. She wanted to learn to sew, so Rose offered to show her how. Hmm, maybe I should sit in. I knew how to sew furs, but not so well on material. Rose said she could show us how to darn socks even, if we were so inclined. Well, maybe. I do have some that could use a bit of help.
Will and Shari were happy to hear our suggestion and offered to come help on Rose and Kara’s projects first, but we said if they wanted to help the guys on the cabin, that maybe half a day instead of taking them from their projects all day. They had helped so much on mine and were far behind on their own stuff. Besides, they had helped on the water project at Rose’s.
As we were pulling back onto the road, Roman’s truck came by. Wow, that was one quick trip to town and it was loaded with building supplies. Those men wanted to get building.
We followed them into the driveway and all pitched in to help unload. Rose had some old pallets sitting over beside the shack, so we stacked boards up off the ground on the pallets.
It did not take long to square out the corners and place the pier blocks they were using for supports. Rose and Kara came back in a few minutes wearing tool belts and I grabbed mine out of the back of my truck. In no time at all, we had the floor laid out and nailed and set on the pier blocks the guys had set in a grid inside the squared area. Roman had bought wire mesh to put under to keep squirrels out of the insulation, so we placed that and nailed it before nailing the 3 sections of flooring in place. We have build it in 3 8’x16’ sections and would nail them together for the 16’x24’ floor. After we had the floor in place, we filled the sections with insulation, then started nailing on the plywood sub floor. In just a few minutes, we had that done, too. Wow, this should go fast with all of us working on it. Roman had picked up a few windows but not as many as he would need for the whole project. He decided where he would like them to be and marked it on the edges of the floor. Then we started on the walls. He had bought T 1-11 siding for the outside, so as we made a section of wall, we placed the window, covered with house wrap, taped, cut the siding needed and covered the wall, then stood it up and nailed. We had the 4 walls done before we all took a break. It looked like a house already.
Kara stopped a bit after we got started to open the shack. She came over with to-go boxes and gave us lunch. When Roman tried to pay her, she said it was just stuff that hadn’t been selling well and she would rather it was used then feed it to the birds or let it spoil. Later, he left a good tip in her tip jar.
After we ate, we built 2 of the upstairs floor sections, by laying them out on the bottom floor and then after assembling them, lifting them up and someone up on a ladder pulling, we got them into position and nailed the sections on both ends of the building. After building a small section of wall, near an outside wall for the staircase to go up, we would use joist hangers to build the center section of the upstairs floor. That small 8 foot section of wall was simple and placed about 3 feet out from the wall for a nice wide staircase. Rose marked out the stair stringers on the 2”x12” boards and Noah cut them out. He nailed 3 foot long 2x4s spaced along them to hold them in place and then placed inside the short wall. We moved the wall a bit to get a snug fit and nailed it all into place. Now, we could go up and down the stairs if we walked carefully on the edges of the stringers. Thad came over with some 3 foot boards and tacked them in place up the stairs so we didn’t have to go tippytoeing on the stringers. Not fancy, but it worked.
Roman got out the joist hangers and we got to work upstairs after placing a couple sheets of plywood down across the floor joists so it would be easier to work. As soon as we had the joist hangers fastened on, the joists were placed and nailed in and the plywood sub floor was handed up and nailed down. Rose was darn good at trimming it even with a chainsaw. She said she did have some experience at it. We were actually ready to start the upstairs walls. Roman was almost in shock. He didn’t have the windows or enough T 1-11 for the upstairs. He was going to have to make another trip to town. The building supply store doesn’t close until 10 pm, so he would just go again this evening. He thought he better pick up some more nails also, since we tend to use a lot, if 1 is good, 3 are better.
I said good-bye and headed for home. Noah was going to ride in with his Dad and Thad was going to stay and go cut firewood for Kara. I think he likes her.

The Beginning – Chapter 14, finally

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 14
Will asks if they can borrow my tiller to till between the rows in their garden, so we load it in my pickup and take it over to help out. They ask if we can enlarge the garden area a bit, by just tilling a few more strips around the outer edge of it. About the time we are finished with the new improved garden, the wind changes and that horrible outhouse odor hits us again. I suggest they pick up some lime in town next trip because that is the worst I have ever smelled. They agree. I spot a large bear in the edge of the woods beyond the outhouse, and tell them. They have not seen any around here, except the one I shot the day we met, so they are interested in seeing one. I do tell them a bear can be dangerous and be very careful about any food around the place. Once a bear finds food, they will keep coming back to see if there is more. This bear just stays back in the edge of the trees, not coming closer, and sniffing the air. Then it drops out of sight. We have one more morning of canning to do, so they decide to spend the night as they have been doing and we can get a nice early start in the morning. We stop at the Hit & Run on our way by, and just make it as they are about to close. We offer to just get ice cream so they don’t have to stay longer but they laugh and say they were closing early as they were tired of sitting with no one to talk to. We talk over the thefts that have been occurring around, as there have been a couple more in the area that we have heard about. It seems to only be food and not a lot at each place. Almost like someone is trying not to take too much from any one person. Well, if we must have a thief, it is nice to have a thoughtful thief. I told them about my little occurrence yesterday. Kara starts laughing and says she told the guy the only access to the river was back by the bridge and there were very few, very small fish in it anyway. He had started to drive on past her shack to use their driveway which also does not access the river, and she told him he would probably get shot by her Mom if he continued. He was muttering about inconsiderate people as he backed out and turned around. Well, he certainly was one of those, himself. While we were eating and talking, Roman pulled in with his tool trailer. Oh my, he has a huge enclosed shop type trailer. He could rebuild anything he sets his heart on. Rose shows him where he can park it, and level it so he can use it as a shop. She is going to have a small village here, soon. Seems he has a small room with twin beds in the end of the shop trailer. He used to travel to jobs and stay in the trailer while he worked. He has another guy with him that is helping him set it all up. The guy resembles Roman and Noah a little bit. But he is very tall and lean, not skinny, just not an ounce of fat on the man. He has muscles though, as he lifts the blocks to level the trailer with ease. When they come back over, Roman introduces his son, Thaddeus. Known as Thad. The guy is certainly a nice looking guy. Wonder if he is single? Is he is going to help his Dad? What? He drove a 4×4 pickup out, as pilot car for his Dad’s trailer. They each order a sandwich also, so it looks like a good thing we showed up to keep the shack open later tonight. It will be closer to 8 pm before they can close tonight. While we are all sitting around talking, a Trooper pulls in. He walks over and asks for Will and Shari. Will stands up and walks over to him and they converse in low voices a few minutes. Will looks shaken. He asks the Trooper a question and they walk over to all of us. The Trooper says he was on his way to town when he saw a bear tearing up a small shed up the hill from Will and Shari’s house. He stopped to investigate and the bear dragged something out from the rubbish. From what the Trooper could see, it was a human body. So he loaded his riot gun with slugs and shot the bear. He wanted to know if anyone there would come ID the body if possible. He had called it in and a crew were on their way out to pick up and work the scene. But it looked as though the body may have been there since the day the other body showed up. It was not a pretty sight and may not be able to ID it from the way it looked. Oh my, no wonder that outhouse smelled. I am so glad we had not decided to go use it or check on it. I guess I shouldn’t feel that way, but I certainly didn’t want to find something like that. We all load up and head over to see if anyone knows or can recognize the deceased. The Trooper is right, about all we can tell is that it probably is male. Although Shari says the size is right to be Rod’s twin brother, Rob. If so, that only leaves the friend, Jeremy, on the loose in the area, if he is still in the area. I wonder if that is who is responsible for the food thefts in the area? He must know he is being looked for. I suggest it to the Trooper and he agrees. Later, when the team has searched the area and through the outhouse remains, they find another rifle. Shari can identify the rifle, it belonged to Rob. So tentatively, he is ID’d as Rob. Shari is very nervous and says with their Daddy being a county sheriff back home, that he will be out for revenge when he learns his sons are dead. He was the main problem with her getting help when she had been married to Rod. She went in the house and brought out the paperwork and photos that were taken when Will got her to a hospital the last time and also the copies of her divorce papers. She showed the Troopers and explained what had been an on-going problem and what she was afraid would happen now, with his family. The Trooper said they would keep an eye out and they did not allow such abuse no matter who his Daddy was. We were a somber bunch when we left there. We dropped off the ones that rode with us, at Rose’s driveway and went on to mine. It seemed that maybe Jeremy was protecting Shari from Rod and Rob in a twisted sort of way. Who else would know they were even there, let alone on Will and Shari’s place? Who else could get that close to them, and how did he get so close to both of them, after the first one was down? We proceeded with the canning the next morning and Shari and Will were both confident they could can fruit and vegetables on their own, now. When any of us got meat to can, we would have another lesson on canning, but if they followed the directions in the canner book, they would do okay. We all left soon after the canners were done and they went to their place and I went for a load of gravel for the floor in the ice house. It is thawing enough to be muck soon in there. I put down a layer of plastic and some old rugs I had picked up here and there. The gravel would go on top and the rugs would keep it from sinking in too much. I tacked screen over the vent openings made earlier as the roof was being put on. No reason to be bitten by bugs while working in here. I should have figured out a way for a skylight or a window somewhere, but that would defeat my purpose for an ice house. The gravel pit isn’t too far away, so my load doesn’t take very long to load as I use 5 gallon buckets so I can dump it exactly where I want it. Unloading takes just as long as loading, as I tend to wear out after a while. So I go fix lunch. I start a batch of bread dough while I am in the house. Maybe I won’t forget it today and it will be nice for some cinnamon rolls. These won’t be fancy, just regular rolls. While the dough is rising, after my lunch, I go spread gravel inside the ice house. I think I will need another load to finish the job nicely and some around outside the doorway, also. I go punch down the dough and head for another load. I won’t be able to dawdle on this one. So I really shovel into the buckets. The dough it just right, when I get home, so I park the pickup and go take care of the bread. One loaf and some dinner rolls, then the rest into cinnamon caramel rolls. I make the loaf and the rolls and set them to rise and the oven to preheat. Then flatten out the rest of the dough and spread it with some corn syrup, then sprinkle well with cinnamon and a lot of brown sugar. I cut them fairly thick and place in a well buttered deep sided baking pan with brown sugar and corn syrup sprinkled over the bottom. After the pan is full, I slightly flatten them with my hand and set them to rise. The bread is ready, so are the rolls, so they go in the oven. I think the ice house will feel good, after working in the house and baking on this hot day. With all the sugars, the cinnamon rolls are almost ready to go in the oven so I move things around in there so they will fit. While the breads cook, I go back outside and spread some gravel around in front of the doorway. With the windows open, I can smell the bread baking and soon the cinnamon rolls, also. The smell must have made it quite a ways, because as I am taking them out of the oven, Noah, his Dad and brother pull in. I put 3 hot cinnamon rolls on plates and a dab of butter on top to melt in and hand them each a plate and fork as they walk in the door. Thad looks at his Dad and brother and asks if it is always like this? And why did it take them so long to let him know? Noah’s job is over, it was only temporary anyway. So he is at loose ends. Thad just finished his job as Inspector on a large building project going on at the University in town. Roman is retired, so the guys have the rest of the summer to do whatever they please. They really are pleased to eat good food, so we box up a couple of the cinnamon rolls and head over to talk to Rose and Kara. While we are all eating, the guys offer to help out around both our places in exchange for a place to stay and meals once in a while. Oh yeah, how perfect is this? None of us have had good luck on the folks we thought were going to help us out here. Now 3 gorgeous guys just drop in on us and offer help. I think we can handle that. I know I can. Kara and Rose look stunned as they eat their rolls and the guys managed to each bring a 2nd one with them to eat. Me, I bought an ice cream bar. This calls for a celebration.

The Beginning – Chapter 13, finally

One morning out my window.

One morning out my window.


Chapter 13
I think they must have maxed out credit cards or had a lot of cash on them. The SUV is loaded and then some. Shari has her new canner and lots of #10 cans of fruit and veggies to start learning to can on. She has cases of empty jars and some empty flats from the plants they had bought in town and planted at home before coming over. They planned on planting the bag of sprouted potatoes they had bought, tomorrow. That being the first of June, they should have a good garden from it all.
They had also made an appointment for her to see a doctor to check on the baby. They had already decided to move to town the month before the baby was due and stay until it was about a month old before coming home.
We unload most of the canning stuff into the little shed they are staying in and would bring it over to my cabin as we use it. Maybe a canner load per morning, before we get started on regular chores for the day. They insisted I get half, as I was taking my time to teach them and we finally settled on I supply my own jars.
I was surprised the next morning to see Will ready to learn right along with Shari. Yes, I have revised my opinion of the man big time. He might be a cheechako, but he was willing to learn. I decided fruit would be the best and easiest thing for them to learn. So we re-canned peaches and pineapple. I get out my canner too, so we could finish faster. I started a large pot of water heating to rinse the jars in and put the lids in a smaller pan of water on a back burner.
Soon we had all the jars sparkling and ready to fill. We opened cans and filled jars, wiping the rims and putting the hot lids on and then the bands. We are using the pressure canners as water bath canners for fruit. They work well for this and if in doubt, let the pressure build up to 1 pound before shutting them off at the end of processing time.
We have breakfast while the canners are processing, and then place the hot jars out on towels on my counters to cool, covered with another towel to keep drafts from the hot jars. The hot water from the canners is poured into the dish pans and used to wash and rinse dishes. Then let cool down and would water plants with it after it was cool. When you carry water, you conserve.
The water from the spring I had dug out was slowly inching closer to my garden area all the time, so maybe I wouldn’t have to pack water for that, soon. Then my rainwater system would do most of the water needs for the house during the summer. If the spring cleared up enough, I would be filling buckets for winter and storing them. It didn’t have high volume, but it was steady. Maybe I should try digging out a large enough hole to dip a bucket here closer to the house, line it with river rocks so no mud in it and have that handy. Maybe the next project.
After the canning is done for the morning, I go back to my ice house project. They are amazed at how it is coming together and we set up a bucket brigade and get the rest of the dirt on top much faster than I had been doing it. Then we start on the foliage squares. It is a good thing I cut them fairly small or we would not have managed as well as we do. They have stayed frozen better than the plain dirt chunks because of the plants and root system on them. I put an upside down bucket over the chimney in back before I started the dirt last night and no one even asked about it as we placed the plant squares around the roof. Soon it is ready for the doors and I stuffed a sheet of foam board in the hole and left it there while I rounded up the supplies to make the doors. It is still pretty cold in there and I want it to stay that way.
I have an old insulated metal door down behind the lower storage shed, so go to check on it. I thought it would do well for one of the doors, a homemade one would do for the outer door. I make a frame of 2×6’s to hang the door and another one to drop down inside to keep the door closed. It would work on a hidden latchstring on the wall. I bolted the hinges through the door, so it was fairly sturdy and might keep a bear out unless he was determined. The chimney would be the weak link in this building. I planned on planting some small spruce trees around the edges in back and maybe fairly close to the chimney or at least enough to confuse the outline a bit. Maybe make a couple of metal cutouts to plant there, to look like trees unless checked up close.
That evening, when Will and Shari came back from cleaning on their house, they told me they would probably be able to move back in it in a couple of days. But was it okay to stay until then and continue the canning lessons? I said sure. I was getting used to having them around and hadn’t seen Noah in a few days as he was taking care of his survey farther out and not coming back each evening. I was getting used to neighbors.
After our evening meal, we went over for ice cream and visited with the women there for a while. Roman was due back in a couple of days with his tool trailer and would be parking it there, while he worked on the equipment. He had asked to rent one of the small guest cabins while he was there. Rose said she thought he was earning the use of a cabin with all his work. He told her it was the most fun he had had in years and what was the price for a cabin. We were waiting to see how that turns out.
After visiting a while, we went on over to Will and Shari’s house to see how things were looking in the garden and the greenhouse they have started. It is assembled and ready to plant the plants they have picked up in town. We look it over and talk about how much room some of the plants will need, and set about planting as we talked. We soon have it all planted.
As we walk around the garden plot, the smell of the old outhouse out back, is a bit strong. Guess a person would have to only work out here when the wind was the right direction. There is a newer one closer to the house that is in use now. No wonder they built a new one.
We go back to the house and it is nice seeing it all neat and clean again. They have done a lot of work on it in the last several days.
We talked about their spring and they said they have not had time to do any more work on it yet. But it is on their list. Their list is getting as long as mine. They are excited about doing the work themselves as much as possible. Neither have experience but they figured if I could, so could they.
They want to build an addition onto the house and make another bedroom and a pantry. I always wondered why the folks that built it and lived in it for years never added a pantry, anyway. Living this far from any town could get difficult to get groceries or other supplies if the weather turned bad. We look at the area they want to add on to and check for how it could be added to the roof. There is a window there so that could be the space to put a door. They decide on size and we start a material list for them to pick up in town next trip in. Their house is on a compacted gravel pad so adding to the house should not be a problem.
I go to sleep that night and dream some more about melted chocolate eyes. It doesn’t help that his voice goes right along with the eyes. Dang, that guy can kiss.
Well, that wasn’t exactly a restful night’s sleep. So I am a little grumpy the next morning when I go out to the garden and pick weeds for the chicks. But watching them zoom around their little pen chasing mosquitoes and each other and the weeds I toss in has me in a better humor by the time Will and Shari show up for today’s lesson in canning. They look like they had a rough night also and Shari is still a little green around the edges. Seems morning sickness has struck.
She is feeling fine now and we get right to work on the peas, corn and string beans she has picked up in town. They have to process longer at 10 pounds of pressure but with the canners we have, once they have started timing, we can go outside and do other things until the time is up. She wants to learn to do meat, also, so whenever we get something to can, we will have more lessons. She is amazed at how easy it is.
We built the insulated outer door for the ice house while the canners worked indoors. She uses her cell phone as an alarm and it went off before we were totally done. We go in and turn off the stove and left the canners to reduce pressure at their own speed and back out to finish our project. When we go in about a half hour later, the gauges are down to zero so we take off the rocker weights and open the lids. Again we placed the jars on towels and then cover them and use the hot water for my pan of dishes. The canners are dried out and placed to finish cooling on the cold heater.
We are just coming out of the house when a vehicle pulled into my yard. It is a neighbor from farther up the road and they are upset. Someone has broken into their storage shed and stolen food and some gear.
We all feel a small shock to realize we were becoming complacent about the 2 guys still possibly in the area and the unsolved murder. We all talk it over and no great ideas popped up. They didn’t think it was enough stuff to make a trip to town for, but wanted everyone in the area to know there are thieves or a thief around. They did ask if we would let any Trooper that wandered by, know. We said we would and they headed back home.
We figure we better lock up every time the houses are left unattended. Even if it was just while we are working out of sight of the doors. I think I better fasten a key to my pants pocket or I will be losing mine and have to break into my own house. That would be embarrassing.
Will and Shari head on over to their house and I go back to work on my ice house project. I transplant some small chokecherry trees around the edges of the roof and set some currant bushes near the chimney so make it harder to spot. Moose don’t eat either one, so thought maybe that would help keep them away from the roof. As the small trees grow, I will interlace the limbs to make it more of a fence. Figuring I wouldn’t want them to go up the front area either, I plant more of the small seedlings around the whole place except the door. A few of the seedlings are actual cherry seedlings that grew from seeds and are about 3 years old. I know they won’t grow true to type, but any will be better than none amd make good jelly. I plant all the seeds from fruit I buy in town. Just maybe I will get some apples, pears, plums and cherries that survive the weather here. The moose and voles are my main problem although many of the seedlings die the first winter from the cold. However, a few of each is struggling along.
I pick up my tools and put them away for now. I want to do a bit of work on the inside of the building, build some shelves along the inside walls. I plan on building them sturdy enough they could be used to sit on. I may have to pick up some lumber to make the shelves as all my projects have used up most of the spare stuff I had laying around.
I measure out the spaces I want to build and write down the materials list as I go. It is all short and small pieces, so maybe I can scrounge up enough to do the job.
Pal starts barking and I go check. There is dust hanging in the air from a vehicle that has evidently just backed around the drive out of sight. I hate things like this. Is it just an innocent snoop that don’t believe the driveway signs, checking out the road or is it the rental SUV with the other guys in it from Shari’s ex? Or just some jerk? I am so glad I have Pal, now. He certainly is good at letting me know when anyone is around.
I take the pickup down to check my assorted building materials. With the list and tape measure in hand, it doesn’t take long to pick out what I will need to get started. I have more on hand than I thought I did. After loading the pickup with the pile of materials, Pal and I drive back up to the house. After unloading, we go into the house. The cats are acting jumpy, so I pay close attention and soon spot something moving through the brush and trees out across the yard. Watching closely, I see a man sneaking through the trees. I open the window over the table and fire a shot into my wood pile. The man dives over the bank and I hear cussing and crashing as he bolts down the hill. Anyone sneaking through the woods around here is not my friend. If he had walked right up to the door and knocked, I would not have reacted that way.
Noah pulls in a while later and I tell him to be watching for some guy out in the woods. And that I had fired a shot into the woodpile since he was sneaking through the brush. Noah looks a little funny at that, but doesn’t say anything except to be careful. I’m planning on that.
While I’m working on my shelves, I hear Pal bark again. Dang, Grand Central Station around here. I go out to see what’s up.
A State Trooper vehicle. Hmmmm, wonder what he wants?
It seems the person on my place earlier, called me in. I ask the Trooper if it is illegal to shoot my woodpile. He says it isn’t and I show him where the shot hit, right on the target I have set against the pile. Then I explain the circumstances and also mention the thievery at the neighbors. That and the murder and all my signs around the place should make it open season on snoops. I asked if he had noticed the Private Target Range, Helloooo Target sign at the driveway and he said he did. So why is someone that is sneaking through my woods complaining about me? Because I didn’t hit him? Seems the guy thought it was a shortcut down to the river to fish. He lost a bunch of tackle and his pole when he dove over the bank. Myself, I think it was cheap at the price, I could have hit him, easily. I tell the Trooper, if the man has the guts to come apologize and hunt for his stuff on his own, he can have it back. The Trooper is laughing as he leaves to go check out the theft at the neighbors. I go back to building shelves.
When everyone comes over, later, I tell them about the guy and him calling the police on me. I have seen more Troopers out here in the last few weeks than I have seen out along this road in all the years I have lived here.
They find it hard to believe the guy had the nerve to call me in to the police. He was obviously in the wrong. So when he shows up later, to apologize but with attitude, he is surprised to find I am not alone and my friends think he is an idiot. Shari tells him if he can’t see where he is in the wrong, maybe a load of buckshot in his tail will help him understand. Wow, she is certainly finding herself out here. Then she tells him about the unsolved murder and the thievery in the area and a dim light starts glowing in the recesses of his brain. Then it dawns on him that I could have shot him and been in the right. He about passes out. Will is so proud of Shari, he is about popping buttons.
I do tell the man if he ever sneaks through my yard again, to expect to have a worse reception.