Starting Out : LUSENET : Country Families : One Thread

I was thinking recently about how far we have come in this homesteading venture. I wanted to share a little of how we started and how far we have come. Most of you know we cut our own logs for our house. So I am just going to skip the part that is already detailed on the log house thread.

We were planning to move into our house in the late fall of 1990. Our goal was to be here by Thanksgiving. However, the best laid plans...are often gone astray. The owner of the house we were renting (big old farmhouse for $100 a month) came to us and said his son was going to get married and wanted to live in the house we were renting. So we had to move by June! They told us in February, so we had plenty of time to find a new place.

After a little discussion we decided to just move to the place the end of June instead of trying to rent another house. I must say now this was a wise choice, but at the time seemed an impossible goal to meet. Cale was working full-time and I was in college and we had 2 daughters. Our house was a block shell with trusses, plywood on the roof and felt paper. That was it!!

We worked diligently through the spring and put in 2 doors, some windows, poured concrete in half of the house, and ran our plumbing and drains in the concrete. We built a block cistern to catch water as we had no well. Our electic was one wire run from our temporary service pole with 4 outlets attached to it!! If I wanted to run the microwave, I had to un-plug the frig!! So the end of June we moved.

We carried drinking water, and used the cistern for everything else. We had a small electric pump in it and a garden hose run in the bathroom window. So when we wanted water we would plug in the pump and catch it in a bucket. When it rained I would catch the water off the roof and then I would scrub and clean house! I still love to clean house when it rains. The girls would stand under the huge stream and get wet with a bar of soap. They loved to do this! To heat water for a bath (we didn't have the electric run for our stove) my Dad gave me a heater that you plugged in and sat down in a tub of water and it heated it. I was always afraid I would get electocuted with this thing. Cale would take a cold shower with the cistern water and that garden hose running full stream. He was tough!! That water was so cold it would take your breath away!

Half of our house was dirt floors, we used this area for storage. We ahd the main load bearing log walss in place, but all of the other partitions were sheets on ropes stretched tightly. We didn't have some of the doors at first, and a racoon would come poking around at night. Cale would throw shoes at it, and every morning we would have to carry all the shoes back in the house from out in the driveway!! Some of the windows were covered with ply-wood until we could afford to buy them.

All or our clothes were hung from the 2 x 4 rafters on hangers! This made a great hanging area. The first winter we didn't have any ceilings, you could look up and see the plywood on the roof.

That felt paper stayed for 4 more years before we could afford to buy roofing! No one believes that, but it is true. We had it stripped and nailed down with old boards and planks. It looked unbelievable! When we finally replaced it we had leaks in 26 places! Once we had company and it was raining. Right above this mans head a huge leak sprouted and was running on his head. He was really surprised! Cale said, "Here Bob let me move that chair for you," and calmly went over and moved the chair to a new location, and kept right on talking!!!

You know sometimes I really miss those days of struggling, when things weren't easy. I now have 14 outlets in my Kitchen alone! I never complained about anything to my husband, I knew he was trying as much as he could. We are still pretty poor, but then we were astonishingly poor! However we always had enough to meet our needs and were always very happy with what we had.

I was reading on CS forum about a man who was trying to think of a way to hook up a shower, and it really brought back a lot of memories. We have made a lot of advances the last few years, but sometimes I really miss the newness and the struggles and the problem-solving of starting out. I like having new things to conquer. So if you are just starting out, appreciate each new challenge!

-- Melissa (, October 28, 2001


What a terrific story Melissa!! My sister stayed in a trailer on my sisters driveway until they could afford their land. Then they stayed on their land in the trailer until they could get the straw bale house built. It was always an inspiration on how you can really make it with very little. It just depends on how bad you want it. I agree that renting a new place would have just set you back. It is hard to find money to rent AND fix up at the same time. I even knew one couple that stayed in a tent their first winter in Northern MN, so they could build their place!!! That is determination!

-- notnow (, October 29, 2001.

Melissa, we did basically the same thing, maybe just a little faster than you did! We put our house we were living in up for sale because we thought it would take a while to sell. At that point, we only had the foundation down and the block started for the basement! Well, our house sold in 3 weeks! The people we sold to were nice enough to let us stay another month but boy did we scramble! Like you, we decided to just move in the uncompleted house rather than move twice and rent a place. In the meantime, my husband developed bleeding ulcers and had to be hospitalized. We moved in here July 1st 1993 in the basement. We had a roof over our head and that was about it but we loved it! We used temporary electric like you did and we also had a cistern. However, we didn't have the potty hooked up yet so for a couple of months we used a porta potty. We got the upstairs pretty livable before cold weather set in so we moved upstairs in November. it was still not finished but we maganaged and each room completed was such a reward! At that time we had plywood floors, still no running water and the drywall was not finished. Would I do it again? You bet! As you said, it was fun even though a lot of people thought we were crazy. But then I was never one to worry about what other people thought. Now we have a nice paid-for home and I think there are a lot of jealous people but they are not willing to do what we did so that's their problem. I might add, neither of us had any building experience except for the previous house we built that we sold. It can be done folks!!!

-- Barb in Ky. (, October 29, 2001.

I know it has taken us much longer than we ever thought to get this house done!! We bought our property when we were married for 2 years, but we started cutting logs when we were still dating. Every year we make a little more progress. It is kind of like triage, we do the most necessary things until we run out of money!!! Cale says if he had known how long it was going to take, he probably would never have started!!! Between working, having 4 kids, gardening, and all of the volunteer work we do, it is a wonder we get anything accomplished here! But we keep plugging along. I guess if we had been much more focused we could have finished faster, but we have always wanted to enjoy our life, and if we wanted to take a walk, or a drive, or play with the kids, or hunt (cale!) we always tried to fit those things in as well. Also the money factor has been big. We try to put money in savings, make sure all our obligations are met, then use what is left for the building projects. I guess it takes a balance and each new improvement is really appreciated. We were determined not to borrow any money to build the house and pay as we went!

-- Melissa (, October 29, 2001.

To those of you who have a small idea of Melissa house let me tell you seeing it from start to finish plus all the added additions they have built around it..Including a stable, a hen house, a fruit cellar and who knows what else they have done...I truly believe thishouse is one of the most fantastic homes I have ever seen and couldn't ever think of a price tag that could match it...Outa of this world without a doublt....Bob

-- Bob S (, October 29, 2001.

Melissa, Loved the story. I could actually see the rained on guest's face. lol Your husband sounds like a hoot. This story is truly an inspiriation for me. When my husband comes home from work, I'm going to have him read it. We've been boohooing over our own little remodeling project so much that we've lost sight of the actual goal. Thanks. I needed this. Iris

-- Iris (, October 30, 2001.

Hi Iris! Glad it helped a little. It surely is tough to live in a house and work on it at the same time isn't it!! How well I know the frustration when things seem to move so slowly...But patience is a virtue isn't it!!!!!! I hope your project turns out great, take time to enjoy the process!

-- Melissa (, October 30, 2001.

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