First Garden

I spent all last week purchasing wood, scheduling dirt to be delivered, and buying a few plants from Home Depot. I’ve ordered some trees (pear and apple) and 6 blueberry bushes from the Arbor Day Foundation that will be delivered…sometime. They don’t say exactly when, which is frustrating.

Last Sunday, my friend Rebecca came over and helped me plant azaleas and hydrangeas. We also screwed together my beds, though in all fairness, my husband had to redo some of our screws. Thanks, love!

Scott got a bee in his bonnet and helped me till, install beds, and haul dirt. We were out until 11pm. Bless his heart, but he also had to spend three hours working on the tiller to get it running. We borrowed it from a family member, and I’m very grateful, because it worked very well once we got it going.

Here’s some pics of the fun:

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Before photo. We hauled that wood off and burned it.

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Dirt being unloaded.

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IMG_2119 2 Scott doing some tilling. Our dog is clearly accustomed to loud equipment.

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After photo from the next morning.

An amusing note: I ordered a load of dirt before we tilled because I was aware most of our space is clay–which of course, isn’t much good for a vegetable garden. Once we started tilling, guess what we found? Some of the only dirt-dirt (not clay) on our usable flat space is right where I wanted my garden; I could have probably done without that load of dirt. Ha.

On Monday, I planted a ton of beets, carrots, chard, lettuce, parsnips, and some marigolds and nasturtiums around the edges of the tilled space. I also planted Celosia Forest Fire along that left edge, to sort of create a barrier between pretty garden and that giant monstrosity of an invasive hedge to the left in the photo.

Next fall, that sucker is coming down.

Those ten beds are 8×4. I’m planting them based on the square-foot gardening method. It seems the most logical use of space. My goal is by next year to be able to produce 90% of our vegetables.

In another week or two I’ll plant some more. Keep your fingers crossed that (most) everything sprouts!

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Insulation

Last week, we found closed-cell insulation panels on Craigslist. So, off we went on an hour drive. We bought 1000sf of two-inch foam and 1000sf of four-inch foam–for the low price of $1,000 total! The two-inch foam has an R-value of 16. The minimum required by code in our area is 13, so we’re ahead of the game. The ceiling, of course, should have more insulation, and I think we’re about 3-4 R-levels higher than the minimum.

We’re better-than-required kind of folks. Ha.

We’re installing it by gluing it directly to the metal walls between the framing studs. Apparently it functions as a moisture barrier if used by itself, which is good. Scott is going to put in a couple of solid days on it this weekend, so I’ll post some pics when progress is made.

Here’s a pic of all the foam in our trailer:

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Yeah. It’s a lot.

And, for fun, here’s one of the pile as we were picking it up. Yes, I stayed in the truck and let the dudes load it.

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We are leaving the sections that still need windows installed un-insulated. After the insulation is put in, and we get the funds for windows, Scott will cut out the metal where the windows will go, frame and install them, then finish insulating those areas.

Next comes plumbing, installing cabinets/appliances/shower, and then we can MOVE IN! We’re ready, so we’re going to do all the finish work (painting, putting up covering over the insulation, etc) once we move in.

Framing

Our friends joined us again on Saturday to help us get ahead on the house. Marlow was a contractor for a long time, and the ever-awesome Kat is always game for helping.

I sprained my ankle a few weeks ago, and it was throbbing pretty badly, so I got to sit (sort of–I was all excited and kept hopping up to look at things) and photo-document. I can’t thank our friends enough for all their help. Guys, you know when you’re ready to build, we are there!

Initially, we were wondering if there wasn’t a way to get away with not framing every wall, but the reality is, it’s good building practice because it works. Framing gives you something to run electric on, adds little cubbies for the insulation, and gives you a way to attach whatever finish (drywall, paneling, etc) you want. Plus, you need studs to have something easy to hang pictures from!

Note: We didn’t finish the bathroom or the kitchen. Hubs is finishing those as I type. Pictures to come.

We did not do studs the standard 18 inches apart. The reason for this is that our containers are providing all of the structural integrity of the house. The studs in our case are, again, for ease of insulation installation and running electric. We did them every four feet, except in the kitchen–we’re doing those standard so the cabinets will be secure.

In all fairness, it may be hard to tell from these photos–but when you are standing in it, the space feels very large. There are no hallways or wasted space, which helps.

Framing the first wall. Moo Moo is helping.

Framing the first wall. Moo Moo is helping.

A view from the dining area.

A view from the dining area. Those posts in the middle are temporary supports. They will be removed when the support beam is welded in place on the roof.

More of framing the first wall.

More of framing the first wall.

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The door into the bedroom, before it was finished...

The door into the bedroom, before it was finished…

Kat and Marlow cutting some wood.

Kat and Marlow cutting some wood.

Bathroom door to the left, bedroom to the right. The bathroom is framed for a two-foot pocket door, which means you have to allow a four-foot space initially.  The bedroom is a standard door width (32inches, I think). It will have a barn door.

Bathroom door to the left, bedroom to the right. The bathroom is framed for a two-foot pocket door, which means you have to allow a four-foot space initially. The bedroom is a standard door width (32 inches, I think). It will have a barn door.

I now know that framing standard walls is pretty easy–it’s framing for doors that takes a little more time.

There will also be a door from the bathroom to the bedroom. When you walk into the bedroom from the living area, you’ll be looking straight at the closet, so you’ll turn right to go farther into the room.

After getting the walls up, I actually felt like, “Oh, hey, there’s even more room than I thought. There’s even space for a little office zone for me.”

All in all, coming from the person who did no work, this was pretty cool. It was neat seeing how framing is really done. It’s also not super complicated. It seemed kind of like sewing–measure twice, cut once. And keep your body parts out of the nail gun’s way…

The following are just because I can:

Kitty approved.

Kitty approved. 

She got tired.

She got tired.

 

On Tiny Homes

This is a special post for my friend Amy’s page. Amy and her family are in the process of planning a tiny home, and Amy also manages a Facebook page dedicated to tiny homes  in northwest Arkansas.

I don’t claim to be an expert on tiny homes. Our three cargo containers together will be 960 square feet, and that’s certainly not tiny. Small, arguably, but not tiny. Still, the planning of our house has given me some insight into how usable these containers really are–and how flexible.

If being portable is not a concern, I think cargo containers are a great route to go for tiny homes. One cargo container is 320 square feet, and even after insulation would be over seven feet wide and eight-and-a-half feet high, which allows for just a bit more vertical storage.

If I were planning a cargo container tiny home, I’d do a layout like this:

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This space is, as I mentioned, eight feet wide and forty feet long.

You would add a bar on that wall at the foot of the bed for closet space, and you could have barstools by the kitchen bar for eating. You could get smaller furniture to decrease your living space footprint as well. The hallway space is only around two feet wide in this sample, so you could certainly use, for example, a pedastal sink in the bath instead of a full vanity to allow for widening the hall. The full vanity does provide towel/etc storage space though, but there’s plenty of room to just include shelves or something.

I like this plan also because of bathroom access. One could easily have guests over and the bathroom would be accessible from the living area without the guest disturbing the home owner–and vice versa.

The bed is a queen size. The couch and overstuffed chair are also of a pretty average size. Again, you could change your furniture size depending on your individual needs. I’m one of those who likes her furniture to be pretty sprawling, and I wanted to show the larger end of the options.

I made the above mockup on floorplanner.com. You have to make an account, and can only do one floorplan for free, but it is the most simple and easy to use site I’ve found for basic floorplans like this.

I am impressed by those who feel tiny living is for them. We are not overly attached to clutter, but I do like to have my “things” around. My cedar chest, my cooking utensils, my comfy blankets. Books. A little space to spread out. My husband is self-employed and spends quite a lot of time working from home. I do a bit of contract work outside of my day job, which means working at home frequently. All that adds up to no tiny home for us. 🙂 Still, I hope this little blurb has given you something to think about as you pursue your home dreams, rather tiny, small, or regular-sized!

Walls are cut out!

It’s been awhile since I updated you, but don’t worry–you haven’t missed much.

Hubs has been chipping away at cutting out the walls, but between buying a new-to-us truck, prepping to sell our two extra vehicles, Scott needing to work some at his job-job, and some health issues, things have been a little slower than we might prefer.

But, drumroll please:

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The walls are finally all cut out!! You can see at the very end of the first container that there’s still a little wall. That’s the dividing wall between the bathroom and bedroom. The wood beams you see are temporary supports until the cross support beam is welded onto the roof.

We walked around today measuring and planning the electrical. Early this week we’re going to buy the doors/windows so those holes can get cut. Once the doors and windows are input and the single wall framed out, the electric will go in. Next step will be insulation. We’re considering hiring someone for that part to move us forward a bit more.

NEW STUFF

We still have our king-size frame and box springs, but our mattress was ready to be retired when we sold our house. Last week at the auction, Scott-husband purchased this lovely item:

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A brand-new fancy-schmancy gel mattress. Mmm-hmm. I can’t wait to sleep on that thing.

The week before that, he wondered if I would like this:

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When I spazzed out in excitement, he told me he’d already bought it. It’s a lovely crackled-blue and copper that will be great as the bathroom focal point. We weren’t going to put in a tub–and it will decrease our space (though we’ll still have plenty)–but come on. Look at it. We have no choice.

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In other news, I’ve reached a new peace about our timeline. We would have preferred to be finished the the 15th (which is a week from tomorrow). Obviously, that’s not realistic. Don’t get me wrong–I am SO READY for this lovely project to be finished and to be living in the house. However, I’ve decided it’s not worth getting stressed about some self-imposed timeline. We’ll be in by summer. I can live with that. It’ll probably even be significantly before real-summer, and that’s just not so bad.

Part of the delay was Scott’s health last week. Because he was unable to work for a few days, our friends weren’t able to come help as they’d intended. On the upside, they’re coming for a day or two next weekend, which will be a huge help. It’s very possible that all the windows will be put in and the wall framed up after their visit. M. was a contractor for a long time, and his wife, K., has some mad skills as well.

Finally, let me say thank you to Mother Nature. I’m not sure what we’ve done to deserve this much beautiful weather in the middle of January, but I’ll take it.

An update on building progress

Well, it’s been awhile since I updated y’all on the actual building process.

The welding is complete. We chose to weld only at the corner joints where each container meets its mate. We’re looking for a beam to go across the width of all three containers–it will be welded on as extra support, since we’re removing walls. It’s actually probably not that necessary, since most of the strength is in the corner posts, but we’re trying to be somewhat on the safe side since the middle container is having both side walls removed. (Note: we’re not professionals. Hire a structural engineer for that.)

Because my husband is a Jack of all trades, he decided to buy a plasma cutter. After some trial and error, here’s a pic from yesterday:

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Can you see the section of wall he’s removing? That “S” is from the outside wall of the container next to the one he’s standing in.

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Today, he’s cutting out the rest of this wall, and should finish up the second section tomorrow. I’ll post some pictures of that, and maybe a video, when it’s complete. With the walls cut out it’s going to look like a real house. Next is either roughing in the electric or framing the one wall we need to put out. We haven’t decided yet. Our contractor friend says either is fine, in this case.

Just for fun, here’s a picture of what I consider the front yard:

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Obviously, that porch is from the house-that-was-before.

That’s all, folks. More tomorrow!

On another note

Here’s a garden post for your “Monday”.

You see, my favorite people have always been farmers, gardeners, though not all of them made/make their living that way. My friends, my grandfather, my brother–they’re all growers of things, one way or another.

Before seeds can be planted, ground must be prepared. So, I spent today moving a ton of sticks and vines off our fence. I’m not sure how that relates to ground preparation, but I’m sure it does.

I’ve got two 60×20 spaces that will work for gardening.

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They are separated by the brush in the middle, which is going to be cut down, and a fence of cedar poles (probably) will be put in its place. The idea is to use the fence as a trellis.

Below is a panorama photo, so the driveway angle is actually opposite of how it looks

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It’s been suggested that I only plant one this year. That’s good advice. I may or may not take it. You see, I bought a lot of seeds…