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Winter is coming

I’m beginning to see some discarded, yellow aspen leaves scattered about the property.

Mike repaired his camera this week, and so we wandered about yesterday shooting photos and enjoying the cool air.

Miláček looking for his next target

The thing I love about art, and life, is how subjective it all is. You can all stand around staring at the same thing and still see something completely different.

Lens Ball in use at the Ranch
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Lazy A-Hole Neighbor

So I promised you a story yesterday of how we acquired our amazing new neighbor.  I don’t feel too bad about leaving you hanging because anyone who is reading this at this point in our journey likely already knows the story.

So one random day in January, we leave the house to go run some errands. It was a pretty dark period of time for us, so I was searching for a sign. Any kind of sign that things were going to be even remotely okay.  So we are driving down our street, we get to the end of our property, and I see this woman banging in a for sale sign on the property next door. So I turn to Mike, and I say something about the need to be able to choose your neighbors, and then I said that this was our opportunity to have family next door like we’ve always wanted. So I texted Mike’s mom and his “BFF” in case his mom thought we were insane. I took a photo of the sign, and she had called the realtor before we even got back from the store.
It never even went officially on the market.
So on Valentine’s Day, Mike’s mom became our neighbor. She is also building a home at the exact same time as we are. We are currently coordinating so that Bob the Builder (I mean excavator Bob) can work on both projects at the same time and save everyone a little money since it costs to have equipment hauled up there each day.  So we combine the projects and save some cash, and that also makes his scheduling easier since 2 projects are next door to one another.

So since she purchased the property back in February, she has visited a couple of times to work on her project. She hired a local builder, and her last visit was in July where we wandered all over Colorado Springs to pick out materials for her build as well as a lot of the finishing touches. It was an awesome opportunity for us to bond, and as an added bonus I got to see some of the materials that are out there to work with, and to learn from people in the industry what the pros and cons of each material was from a bystander point of view. It’s given us a lot to think about as far as finishings go. I had one view in my head of how things will be, and it’s already quite different than what I’d envisioned.

So after some excellent timing, a lot of coordinating, and a bit of magic in the universe, we have this amazing new neighbor. I look forward to taking turns having dinner on our front porches and enjoying sunsets together. We always dreamed of having our family around us, and we’re so blessed to have that become a reality with the addition of his mom in our neighborhood.


A special thanks to Mom, and a special thanks to my Dad as well. We couldn’t have done any of this without either of you. We love you. 

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Plans Approved!

We talked to the planning guy, and our permit will be issued by the end of the day!

We met with the excavator guy earlier this week, and we have things all planned out for the foundation, driveway repairs, and the easement between our property and next door. I’ll share that story in a moment.

Next step is going to be to pick up our plans, permits, and other paperwork, and pay for all of that stuff. Once the stuff is sorted out for next door, then we will take care of all the work at once to save us all a little bit of money.
Arched Cabins is putting the kit together now, and they will communicate with me once they are ready to schedule a delivery date.

Okay…. story in the next post.

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New Website!

Since you are here, you’ll know that I made this here website. YAY!

Great things are on the way. I have been working hard behind the scenes to bring forth a Patreon account, which should be starting up in the next couple of weeks. My laptop died, so that had to be replaced, and we’ve been up to our eyeballs with other things being weird for a few weeks. We have had some turnaround though with some new hardware for stuff like video editing and websites, and I’ll be working hard to bring forth some content and also be recording pretty much everything we do from this point forward because the house will be coming soon!

Super excited to share our journey with you all.

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Yeah, It’s been a while

So It’s August, and we have a lot to catch up on.

The depression monster has been making life difficult for a couple of months, but we’ve also been pretty busy over here.

In June I took a trip to Illinois with my dad and older brother to visit the hometown and see old friends. I hadn’t been back in 18 years, and after the loss of my son my dad felt it would be good for all of us to go back home and reconnect with our old friends and also spend some quality time together. I don’t get to see my family very often as we live so far apart.

After I returned, we finally gained some forward momentum on our project. I have taken a break from the goats because I just have been struggling for awhile. She e mailed me a couple of weeks after I began my hermiting, and wanted to give me the name and number of a friend of hers who is an architect. We had been having so much trouble sorting out drawing stuff.

As it turns out, her friend used to work at the planning department and was the person I had spoken to back when I first tried to pull permits. She had left the planning department and struck out on her own. So she has worked the past couple of months to try and get us what we need and want in the house. I’m pleased to announce that we have drawings in our possession! She even met with the planning department already to go over the drawings to help us get them through. I have everything filled out, and now I just need to get some copies made of a couple of things and then drum up the funds to pull the permits! Once we file those, it’s go time! So guys! We’re getting ready to get the house delivered! We’re getting ready to build!!!!

lots of crazy screeching

We are finally moving forward. We are down to 7 months to get this place finished. It’s going to be down to the wire.

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Side Projects

While I’m doing administrative stuff (poorly) for the build, I am also working on a side project or two in the meantime to begin my hands on time with some tools and learn a whole bunch of stuff.  I say poorly because my mental state has been a bit scattered after our loss in December, and I’ve just been doing a shit job of pulling myself back together enough to really focus on the crap that I NEED to do and just do it. Instead, anxiety and sadness are whittling away at the fucks I had to give. So, perhaps a little TMI for this audience, but I’m feeling guilty that we’re kind of stalled out at the moment, and this process has been emotional in its own right without the added heaviness that comes with dealing with the losses that we have over the past few years, and I’m in this place where I am just sharing my feelings in an effort to just move past them and keep moving in a forward direction. So anyhoo, that’s not why I was here to post. I was here to post about the teepee side project and the upcoming compost bin side project.  In my previous post, I had linked to a video from a day that I had been working on skinning logs. I’m still doing this.

Actually, over the weekend it turned into assessing the entire project again.  Basically, this has just been my project. I got a wild hair and decided that I need outdoor sleeping accommodations, and instead of being normal and just putting up a tent, I’ve gone mental and decided I need to build a larger structure. Why? Glamping? I joke and say glamping, but the reality is that I’m a very large woman with some annoying health stuff that makes regular old camping just not possible. If I get down on the ground there’s always a chance that I’m not getting back up off of the ground without assistance. So I wanted something that I could put what initially was planned as a cot into and maybe a little side table and a little camp chair to sit in… I really could just make a large medieval style pavilion such as a friend of mine had discussed with me during this process, but I really do want to just DO something. So it became a tipi and a rope bed and maybe some camp furniture. I’m going to go back and forth between teepee and tipi until I figure out which one is actually appropriate to what the hell I’m doing, because I don’t actually know yet.

So, I started out here. Mother Earth News Plains Tipi plans, and also WikiHow for plans. My initial research was ridiculously light before I went full tilt. A novice mistake, for I am eager. After a couple days of wrecking myself a bit, and a week and a half of migraine as a result, I have made the wise decision to take a breath, and dig into this a little more.  Also in my initial search, I found this company, who had a fantastic video to get me all fired up for this, and also made me wonder whether I should save up the money and purchase the tipi cover, or if I want to learn to sew and do the entire thing myself. I don’t know how to sew, so I think that just about everything that I’m doing on this project is brand new to me.

So that’s where I was. Now let’s go to where I’m at in the process now. Over the weekend, I went to do some work on the poles, and to pick the brain of my dear partner, whom I lovingly call “MikeGyver”, about my setup. The jaw horse that I’m using is too heavy and I get a headache when I have to unload/load into the vehicle. So we’re discussing a few options including just dragging it to a location where we can just leave it set up so I don’t have to worry about loading and unloading it, using saw horses, and creating some other sort of semi-permanent setup for me to process stuff. I am also clumsy, so the kinds of things that we have to think about when setting up something is how to make it “Ali-resistant” and also “Ali-Safe”.

This means basically that I am a human wrecking ball, and I also fall down a lot. So we consider those things along with whether or not it can be set up in a way that I am able to do it, or if we have to consider this a task that is simply not sensible for me to wreck myself doing. I’m all about self empowerment and setting out to prove to yourself that you CAN accomplish this monumental task, but I’m at a point in my life where just because I can push myself well past my comfort zone doesn’t really mean I should. I have to be smart. I don’t want to seriously injure myself because I was too stubborn to just ask for help, and also it’s OKAY to ask for help. Just because I want to do this entire thing all by myself doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen that way, and why should it?

Yet none of that is really any of your concern, but I figure since this is a new blog perhaps a little background info so you can get to know us a bit and kind of see why we may do some of the things that we do. In the process of helping me, he lopped off the really rough ends of logs and some were a bit too soft for what we needed so we cut some down a bit, and somewhere in this process I realized that I’m not sure how long or how thick any of this is supposed to be, so I ran back to the house and internet to look at the various plans and look at the tipi website that I was pondering ordering from and I realized that first and foremost I needed to settle on a size because all of these things were different sizes. The mother earth plans are for an 18 1/2 foot tipi, and the ones we were looking at to purchase were 14 feet. We settled on 14 feet. I looked up the size of the poles from the website where you can purchase the tipi because you do have the option of doing your own poles, and then I went back to measure my poles and a couple are short by a foot or just dead on so there’s no room to do any shaving and stuff. I’m also realizing I’ll need to mark the poles and some will need to be trimmed down a bit, plus I need to get more. I’m worried about using standing dead and fallen because it looks like green wood may be better in this application. So I’m back online and researching now. I started out by being a complete moron and googling tipi plans for 14 foot tipis, and realized that the plan is basically the same freaking plan, it’s just doing some math to change the dimensions. At this point, I’m on this website doing some research and a little more careful planning. I found yet another tool I’m going to be purchasing soon for my personal tool box. This will be a nice, long tape measure. My current one is 16 feet. My poles are supposed to be about 20 feet. I’m not saving tons of time by having a longer tape measure, but it’s going to keep me more sane. I’m still debating whether or not to learn to sew and sew my own or purchase one of those ridiculously gorgeous tipis that they have for sale and just doing the poles. I haven’t had a single person who thinks I should sew it myself, which in a way makes me want to do it myself even more, but I also want to sleep in it this year.

So that’s where I’m at. Doing some more research, gathering more logs, skinning the ones that will definitely work, and going over my options for the tipi project. I think we’re just going to stick with the tipi spelling, it feels right.

As far as camp furniture goes, I’ve been looking at some rope bed stuff here, and some general information on furnishing a period encampment. Obviously it’s not the same period and I’m doing a bit of a mash up, but I am not going full SCA on anything. I want a functional space, an opportunity to try a handful of new things, and an end result that is going to work for what we need.

Thanks for reading!

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Adventures at the Ranch

The leaves are beginning to emerge on the aspen trees, and it’s time to begin some outdoor projects.

We started by digging up some of the “buried treasure” that we stumbled across.

It’s very long and boring. I sped it up as fast as I could at the time and added music as requested by my miláček, but it’s still long and boring. You can view it here on YouTube.

Next video is a portion of footage that I shot yesterday while peeling bark from a log. I am wanting an outdoor sleep space this summer, and so there’s no better way than to do it yourself! So I looked around at a few options and opted to go for a teepee. It gives me an opportunity to get my hands on some woodworking tools and begin to learn some basic concepts for the upcoming build, and it’s not crazy complicated. This footage was shot for teepee footage, but was painful to wade through for that purpose. I am a person who likes to pretend everything is normal, even when it’s not.  I have a bunch of auto immune disorders, and on top of that I have a bunch of back pain, and a headache for more than 4 years. This video is basically a giant episode of pain, but I REALLY wanted to get through a log yesterday and was super determined. It’s on high speed for most of it, but I let it run at regular speed for the last couple of minutes. This is what digging deep looks like. This is what trying to suck it up and “fight through it” looks like. I’d say 98% of the time I don’t look sick. I look like a totally normal person, but I am in pain ALL the time. Most of the time it exists as a sort of background noise. This particular episode was the headache being it’s asshole self. If I bend over too much it just means an instant migraine.  Once I get all of the logs peeled, I’ll post a final video for that portion of the project, but this was just a reminder that I am a human being and not perfect. I must be more gentle with myself. So watch that video here on YouTube.

And lastly, I’ve been hanging out with a whole bunch of goats lately. Goat milk soap has been happening a lot, which you can buy from my Etsy shop, and I just love my time with these goofballs. We’ve been keeping busy and have a lot of projects coming up soon so stay tuned!

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It’s Been A While

Things have been quiet at the ranch over winter. It’s been pretty chilly, so outdoor tasks have been things like dragging in firewood, and splitting wood to season. We suffered a major loss in December with the death of my oldest son. As the days slowly begin to lengthen towards spring, I begin to emerge from under the shadow that has been over me since then. I’ve been tending to a sick kitty for the past week who is finally out of the woods and on the mend, and yesterday I had my very first opportunity to milk a goat. I am looking forward to repeating the experience and getting to know more about those amazing and fascinating critters. Several batches of goat milk soap will be forthcoming in my Etsy shop as a result of my efforts. I look forward to sharing more goat adventures with you in the future. A woman in the neighborhood has goats and was looking for assistance in milking them, and I volunteered. I just want to try new things and start figuring out what makes sense for our property in the future. 

I also had a photo shoot with a client yesterday down in Denver, and stumbled upon some photos from around Thanksgiving that I hadn’t pulled off of the camera until today. I thought I would share those with you. We love the deer that come around to say hello. They are so beautiful and I could sit and watch them for hours. They bed down on the hillsides all around the house and are always fascinated by the dogs. So here are a couple of the deer. 

William loved the deer and many of the animals here made themselves known to him. He often took time to hang out by the little spring and ponds, watching the animals and enjoying the stillness of the forest. I was looking forward to having him join us in building the house and starting his life up there, but he was taken too soon. I dedicate this post and so many of my adventures to both he and my other son, Arden. They are the biggest adventure that I have embarked on in my life, and my most rewarding one. I love my boys. I will miss my gentle giant.

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Soil Testing!

Soil testing came back and our build site is a go! HOORAY! Now we just have to get with Arched Cabins and get our drawings done, get permit paperwork squared away, and then go pull permits for our build site! Finally beginning to move forward. I just want to have everything in place so we can get those holes drilled and foundation done and get this show on the road!

So what happens now? With the soil test we have to drill all of our holes for our foundation (post and pier foundation is what we are using for the house) and then we will likely use a block skirting around that. Once the holes are drilled, we have to have someone come out to inspect the open holes before we pour concrete, and then I believe the pillars have to be inspected, but don’t quote me on that yet. The soil report was around $950, they pulled 2 core samples to send off to the lab, and we got a full workup and recommendations on the foundation design based on the post and pier foundation.

Always read your report carefully, and find out exactly what kind of testing they do. We pretty much wasted $650 on the first test at the site where the house currently sits. The guy didn’t take any core samples, and he just eyeballed the hole. We could probably get away with using it to put down something else up there, but I don’t think we’d get the permits pulled in time for a second house. We do plan to put a cabin somewhere eventually for Mike’s mom to come and stay in whenever her heart desires…

When we got this report, they did it for the wrong foundation type, so it took a couple of extra weeks to get that all sorted out. I’m just waiting for Mike to do a quick mock up of a floor plan to send off to Arched Cabins. It will be another $800 for the engineered floor plans and full foundation plans that the county requires. Eventually I will have a breakdown of costs. I just need to sort out a few things with my excel skills. AKA I have no excel skills and I need to sit down and watch some tutorials and such.