Back to the land...

This blog is an account of our experiences trying to homestead in Eastern Tennessee. We've bought almost ten acres with power and a well, and a small shed for the well pump. Half the land is already cleared.

This year we haul out 10 tons of trash from an old burned down home. We plant a large garden, and fruit trees, and build a compost bin specifically for humanure. We build a small pad for a gazebo up under the oaks, and begin building our house/barn, with grading, a stone foundation, a concrete stem wall, and the modified post and beam frame. Everything is done by hand. We also dig four thirty foot swales across the top of the clearing and plant the berms with blueberry. A lot of work, and a lot more to go . . .

I'll also cover the process of picking out a piece of land, the negotiation, and "where to begin?" phase, at least how it all went for us.

[YEAR 2] - We build the shell of a 16'x25' two story cabin from scratch . . . check out how it was built.

[YEAR 3] - We try to finish the cabin . . .

[YEAR 4] - I move up permanently to the property to homestead full-time . . .

[YEAR 5] - Rachel and I try to make it as homesteaders . . with a wood cook stove, dairy goats and a cow, finish the barn, expand the garden, fence pastures, plant more fruit trees, build a flock of healthy layers, grow our own animal food - in other words . . . WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK . . .

[YEAR 6]
'Homesteading in Tennessee' is now HOLDOUT FARM. Check out our new farm website. We produce premium quality raw dairy products from our fodder-fed goats, pastured eggs, organic fruits and vegetables, and offer a seasonal list of classes on Permaculture Homesteading.
.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Modified Post and Beam Frame

.
Having no building experience whatsoever, and about to build a 2600 sq ft house from scratch, I've had to do a lot of research to find plans that could be modified to fit my particular situation.

I knew I wanted to add on to the original structure of the barn, pictured below:

What's there is a 36'x36' pole barn. I've found plenty of plans for what the original builder was doing. It's a four to six stable horse barn with a large center aisle loft. The problem for me in all these plans was that every one of them had a gable roof, and I wanted a gambrel for greater loft space. Most horse barn lofts are simply for storing hay. I wanted our upper story to be a spacious apartment. So I couldn't find any plans for a 36'x36' horse barn/pole barn with a gambrel roof.

I could have an architect draw some up for me, of course, but that would cost a small fortune. And building seems rather straightforward. I thought I could either modify a set of plans, or borrow some ideas to create my own thing.

Once I broke the structure up into first story frame, and roof, and decided to just focus on the pole barn side of it, and deal with the gambrel roof later, I found solutions. The following website in particular was what I based almost my entire first floor post and beam ideas on:

http://www.savillehillfarm.com/BarnBuilding.htm

This site details briefly a family's experience with building their own pole barn from a kit. They detail the process step by step, give all the dimensions of lumber, and lengths. So since this all came from a kit I figured it would be a rather reliable standard to go by.

I knew my four rows of posts 12 feet apart didn't cut it. Especially since the outside rows were composed of 4x4's, twisted and cracked. In their kit everything was a 6x6, and only 10 feet apart. So I decided that instead of putting more posts into the ground, I'd build a perimeter foundation, lay down sill plates, and put intermediate posts (or doubled studs) between the main posts, 4' o.c. And the 4x4's would also be beefed up into essentially 8x8's with 2x's all around them, boxing them in.

In the above kit they used boards for beams, one on either side of the post, run parallel, with blocking between to stiffen them, and the beams rested on short cleats on the posts. I thought I could kill two birds with one stone by running my cleats all the way down to the block (foundation), and beef up the posts at the same time. Their beams were made of 2x12 boards, whereas I went with 2x10's, which was all I could get locally, and I think okay, considering I would have doubled studs every 4' supporting the beams.

What I was hoping was that I could keep the original structure of the barn, which was pretty level, and plumb, and just remove one board at a time, and replace it with new wood. But unfortunately I had to demolish quite a bit of the structure, and abandon all his old marks, as I went along. I wanted to preserve as much as possible of the original builder's ideas for this structure. I liked the notion of picking up where someone else left off, rather than wiping it out.

I started with the right side of the barn, the second post back. The first thing to do was detach the girts from it (the upper horizontal boards seen in the above photo), and try to get it plumb. The posts, especially the 4x4's, were enough out of plumb that something needed done about it. It looked like the whole structure might have rocked south a little.

I took a rope and tied it to the top of the post. I then attached a nail sort of low down two posts back. I pulled the rope hard to move the post where I needed it, then wrapped the rope around the back post and tied it, and the nail kept it from slipping up the post. This technique worked well. The 12' posts were much easier to move than I thought they'd be. Once the post was plumb, I reattached the eave girts as braces to hold it, either lower down, or at an angle, so they wouldn't be in the way of the boards I was putting up.

I'd decided to go with exactly 12' as the height of the top of the beams, so that my studs would be 12'. So I just substracted the width of my 2x10 from 12' to get the length of my cleat. Since the cleat went all the way down to the block on both the inside and outside of the post, I used more of the borate treated wood. I put a small piece of seam sealer foam between the edge of the board and the block. I attached the board with both drywall screws and 16d nails, using an 8" C clamp to tighten the board to the post. My thinking in putting the cleats up first was that then I'd have something to set the heavy 12' 2x10 on as I tried to fasten it. Otherwise I didn't know how I'd ever prop it up there.

Getting the 2x10 up at first seemed impossible. I tried to walk up it with the ladder, and hold it in position - no way. Too heavy, and all that weight spread over 12', while I tried to climb a shaky ladder. I had to sit and think for a moment. Then I came up with the idea of propping the board up diagonally on a brace (a girt nailed up at about mid-height), then walking the other end up the ladder, setting it on the ladder, and attaching a rope from this end to one of the upper girts, or top of a post. Then I went back and tied a rope to the other end of the board, and raised it higher. I kept raising each end higher and tying it off until I was close to where I needed to be. It took about a half hour, but eventually I got the board up on the cleats. I held it there with bungee cords, then fastened it with 2 1/2" drywall screws and 3" 16d nails. Here's a photo:

You can clearly see the girts removed and used lower down as braces. The cleat on the left is the green borate because it goes down to the block, while regular framing wood is on the right, because it's on top of a sill plate.
-
I was so pleased to have that 2x10 level after all that effort to get it up there that I took a photo of it:
-
The next step was to duplicate what I did on the inside of the barn on the outside. Both cleats on the outside went down to the block, so both were borate. I put up another 2x10 on top of the cleats, this time on the outside of the posts. It was harder in the sense my ladder was much lower down and on the uneven ground, rather than inside the barn on the graded dirt. But what helped is that I had the first 2x10 to tie my rope to, to pull the second board up.
-
After I got this in place I put in a 2x4 between the 2x6 cleats, nailed directly to the 4x4 post. This served a double purpose - to fully box in and beef up the post, and provide more nailing surface for both the cleats and the 2x10's above.
-
After this I put in my first doubled stud, or sistered stud, essentially 2 2x's. First I ran a tape measure along the sill plate, from post to post, to figure exactly where the studs should go, dividing the space equally into thirds. It was a little less than 4'. I marked it with a pencil. Then I measured up from the marking to both the bottom, and top, of the 2x10 boards for the beam. This is because I was going to notch out the stud on both sides, so the 2x10 would rest directly on the stud. I was going with 2x6 studs throughout. The notch on the outside would be a full 1.5", so the edge of the stud would be flush with the outer surface of the 2x10. But the inside notch would be only 1/2", so only part of the 2x10 would sit on it.
-
I cut one 2x6 first. I did all cuts with a circular saw, then finished the notches with a jigsaw - and put it up to see how it fit. If it worked I screwed and nailed it in place. I used the big C clamp at the top to pull the 2x10's together into their notches, flush with the stud. At the bottom I didn't bother with toe nailing, which didn't seem sound to me. I used metal angles to attach the stud to the sill. I got them for only 60 cents a piece at a local hardware store.
-
I then went and cut my next 2x6, put it in, fastened it in place, then began the tedious process of sistering the two boards together into one. I used C clamps and drywall screws, staggered up the whole length, every few inches or so. It took a long while, but once it was done those doubled 2x6's formed one solid post. Here's the first stud in:
-
You can see the ropes still taut that were used to pull the posts plumb. Here's a closeup of the joint between the notched top of the stud and the 2x10 beam, before it was doubled:

A shot from far back with the stud in:

A shot from outside the barn once I had both doubled 2x6 studs in at 4'o.c., and that wall was essentially finished, minus the blocking:

Here's a photo of me working on the next post, dismantling eave girts:

If I could do it over again, I would have used a 10' ladder, instead of an 8'. But the 8 footer was on sale at Home Depot for $90, so I went with that.
-
In this photo I have finished one square of the barn:
-
Since every section is 12'x12', there are 9 sections. The upper board that has no studs is a 2x10, part of what will be the center right beam, for the joists. The lower board without studs is a 2x6 brace. This is where I was keeping some of the original look of the barn. I needed something to hold the posts together right to left, or east to west. The beams did a fine job of holding everything together front to back. The joists were going in left to right, but they serve no function of pulling things together. They simply sit in hangers, and support weight above. So I went with 2x6 braces to pull everything together left to right. No need for a 2x10 here, since it's just a brace, with no real weight on it. And the brace served the additional purpose of acting as cleats for the 2x10 boards in the center beams, and also for additional fastening - as I used a metal angle to attach the brace to the perpindicular 2x10 above.

Here more 2x10's are up, front and center, and the kids have made a seesaw using a stump and old board:

Here the front right four sections of the barn are done:
-
I've faced the front 6x6 posts with massive 2x10 pressure treated cleats (ripped down to 8.5"), that run all the way to the block. Having no table saw, I bought them at Lowe's and had them ripped there. I went with treated wood since we're having barn doors here, and the area might get exposed to a lot of moisture.
-
Here's a shot from the front:
-
Here's a shot of the front right corner, from inside the barn:

You can see a couple of things here. For one I've used my first joist hangers, to put up the 2x10 on the other side of the studs that creates the beam. I first measure where the hangers go, draw plumb lines (using a torpedo level), attach the hangers with just 2 screws, then go through the tedium and agony of getting the joist up into the hangers. To make life easy on myself I could have cut the joist a little short and just dropped it into the hangers. But no I cut the joist exactly to fit, and actually pounded it into place with a rubber mallet. This makes a great tight hold, which is what I'm going for, but it makes getting the joist in a nightmare. I'm going to have to come up with a better technique. Once I have the joist where I want it, I unscrew the hangers and move them in to place, clamp them with little C clamps, and fasten them completely.
-
The other thing to notice in the above photo is the blocking. You can see it between the studs, and between the studs and posts. It is what helps turn parallel boards into a beam. For my blocking I used two 9 1/8" doubled 2x6's. I doubled them on the ground then put them up. Sometimes I had to pound them in to get them to fit. Sometimes I had to use a clamp to pull the boards into the blocking. Since the borate was 14', I had plenty of 2' ends sitting around to cut down for blocking. This corner of the barn is now totally finished.
-
Here's a photo of the 6x6 post that is one back from the front at the center right. The parallel 2x10's are above running straight back. The parallel 2x6's braces are running across. You can see how they function as cleats here, and how I attached everything using metal angles and drywall screws.
-
If you look really closely you can see a small piece of wood behind the ends of the braces. This is because the center posts are 1.5" less in diameter than the outside beefed-up 4x4 posts. So this is a piece of 1x material (actually 3/4"), that is fastened first to the post, on both sides, then the braces fastened to it, with 3" 16d nails driven through all of it into the post.
-
Ultimately when the barn is finished this old gray post will be boxed in with a finish material, and it will run all the way up to the braces and beams, so the transition is more seamless.
-
Here's another shot of where joist hangers have been used, and blocking:


The front 6x6's have been boxed in with 2x material on three sides, and become truly massive posts. I like the look.
-
From another angle:
-
If you look closely you can still see the old girt attached to the post at the top of the photo.
-
Here's a shot with the girls in front. You can see ropes running everywhere for plumbing the posts. I kept them in until a post was attached on all sides and had no way to move:
-

No comments:

Blog Index

10/30/08

BUYING RAW LAND

11/8/08

TRASH CLEANUP

11/10/08

WINTER IN ATLANTA

11/12/08

SPRING IN TENNESSEE

11/14/08

STARTING A GARDEN

11/15/08

BUILDING THE COMPOST BIN

11/15/08

THE FROST

11/16/08

GRADING THE BARN

11/18/08

DIGGING SWALES

11/19/08

PLANTING FRUIT TREES

11/19/08

BUILDING A STONE FOUNDATION

11/20/08

THE CONCRETE STEM WALL

11/21/08

BUILDING A SMALL 12'x12' PAD

11/21/08

THE GARDEN

11/22/08

BUILDING A DRIVEWAY

11/23/08

INSTALLING THE SILL PLATES

11/23/08

THE MODIFIED POST AND BEAM FRAME

11/27/08

FRUIT IN THE GARDEN

11/28/08

THE BARN FRAME

11/29/08

AUGUST IN TENNESSEE

11/30/08

HANGING THE JOISTS

11/30/08

CLEARING THE LAND

11/30/08

COUNTRY NEIGHBORS

11/30/08

THE HARVEST

12/1/08

PLANS FOR A CABIN

12/14/08

THE LAND IN WINTER

12/22/08

BARN UPDATE

12/29/08

WINTER PLANTING

1/4/09

EDIBLE PLANTS

1/10/09

WINTER TREES

1/12/09

WINTER TREES II

1/21/09

CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER

2/11/09

THE STRAW BALE CABIN

3/26/09

THE STRAW BALE CABIN II

4/2/09

1880 FARMHOUSE

5/6/09

HOMESTEADING / THE CABIN

8/13/09

THE POST AND BEAM CABIN

8/22/09

RETURN TO TENNESSEE

8/25/09

SITE WORK

8/30/09

DIGGING THE FOOTERS

9/4/09

THE PIER FOUNDATION

9/10/09

911

9/11/09

FINISHING THE PIER FOUNDATION

9/12/09

THE GIRDERS

9/13/09

FRAMING THE FLOOR

9/16/09

DECKING THE FLOOR

9/17/09

THE POST AND BEAM FRAME

9/19/09

THE RAFTERS

9/20/09

INSTALLING THE METAL ROOF

9/21/09

FRAMING THE WALLS

9/26/09

DOORS AND WINDOWS

9/27/09

TENNESSEE IN JULY - OUR LAST MONTH

10/2/09

TENNESSEE IN OCTOBER

10/10/09

THE BARN FLOOR

10/15/09

PIGEON MOUNTAIN

11/10/09

NOVEMBER

11/16/09

PERMACULTURE: ANOTHER ROUND OF FRUITING SHRUBS

11/22/09

DRIFTERS

11/30/09

THE BARN ROOF BEGINS

12/20/09

'DRIFTERS' PART I

12/30/09

WEATHER

1/1/10

NEW YEAR'S IN TENNESSEE

1/25/10

DRIFTERS: PART II

3/2/10

MY SISTER'S WEDDING

3/21/10

FERTILIZING WITH HUMANURE

3/28/10

THE ADDITION FLOOR

4/19/10

THE ADDITION

5/11/10

RUNAWAY

6/13/10

FINISHING THE ADDITION

.........................The Timeline.........................

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
1992
-MAY . . . for Patty and I's first date, we skip school and go to the Pinnacle - a wooded overlook off the Susquehanna River.
-SEPTEMBER . . . I leave our hometown of Lancaster, PA for college - Penn State in Reading, 45 minutes away.

1993
-FEBRUARY . . . Patty and I both drop out of school, and camp in some woods behind a grocery store in Lancaster.
-MARCH . . . Patty steals her mother's credit card, and with it we take a train to Utah. We ultimately end up on the Northwest Coast, living in Port Orford, Oregon.
-APRIL - OCTOBER . . . We join a traveling carnival and work in it for 6 months. We sleep in the back of a Ryder truck, and go through California, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. I run the guns, and Patty does the goldfish. We save $9,000.
-NOVEMBER . . . We return to Lancaster and are arrested for stealing the credit card.

1995
-OCTOBER . . . We bike from Lancaster down to Charleston, South Carolina. Patty wrecks in North Carolina, and a friend drives us the rest of the way. We live in Charleston for 2 weeks.

1996
-JULY . . . Our first daughter June is born in Lancaster, PA.

1997
-MARCH . . . We sell everything in our apartment, and hike out of Lancaster with backpacks and our 9 month old daughter. We reach the Susquehanna River.
-APRIL - JUNE . . . We get a canoe and paddle 500 miles up the Susquehanna River to its source. We camp on islands. We get a ride to the Erie Barge Canal and paddle west.
-JULY . . . We are arrested in Little Falls, NY. Our daughter is taken, we're charged with neglect, and we fight the courts for months. We are cleared of all charges, but never get her back.
-SEPTEMBER . . . We take a bus out to Ruidoso, NM and camp in woods just out of town. We return to Lancaster and camp in the Brickyard for the rest of the month.
-OCTOBER - FEBRUARY . . . We live in an apartment in the Amish community of Strasburg, PA. Amish go by in their horse and buggies every day.

1998
-FEBRUARY . . . Our second daughter Rachael is born. We try to deliver her on our own at home and fail. Patty ends up in the hospital with a c-section.
-MARCH . . . We get a ride from a friend down to Covington, Virginia. We stay a week, and look for places to camp in the surrounding national forest. We find nothing, and go to New Mexico.
-MARCH - MAY . . . We camp in the Gila National Forest, north of Pinos Altos, a mile from the nearest trail. We camp above a spring with an infinite view west. We start building a hogan.
-JUNE - SEPTEMBER . . . We live downtown in Santa Fe, NM. Patty markets her paintings, and I get a N.Y. literary agent for my first book 'Flesh Aflame'.
-OCTOBER - DECEMBER . . . We rent a house in Crescent City, California, on the Northwest Coast, a mile from the ocean, on the edge of a bird sanctuary. It's great until the rains begin and we run out of money.

1999
-JANUARY - FEBRUARY . . . We camp in the Uwharrie mountains of central North Carolina, and look for a place to build a winter home.
-MARCH . . . We get a canoe and paddle the Holston River down towards Knoxville, Tennessee.
-APRIL . . . We get dropped off in the Smokies and paddle Fontana Lake. We stash our canoe at Chambers Creek and hike in to the Smokies for a secret camp. Patty paints the creek, and we stay 3 weeks.
-MAY . . . We live in a trailer just off the ocean in Myrtle Beach, SC. The sky is beautiful after storms and we love the pelicans.
-JUNE . . . We camp in the Brickyard back in Lancaster, PA, saving money for an apartment.
-JULY - DECEMBER . . . We live in Lancaster and save for our trip back out to New Mexico. We also buy the jeep.

2000
-JANUARY - JUNE . . . We camp and travel all over the Southwest, from the Gila, to Organ Pipe, to the Weminuche in Colorado. Brooke is born in February in a motel in Deming, NM.
-JULY . . . We stay in condos with a friend in Aspen, Colorado. I do concrete work. We then go to California, and look for a place to live in the Russian River area.
-AUGUST - OCTOBER . . . We rent a small house in Tesuque, NM, just outside of Santa Fe. We hike up into the Pecos Wilderness. We become vegetarians.
-NOVEMBER . . . We visit a friend in Tucson, AZ, then drive to Crescent City and the Northwest Coast. The beautiful weather is over, and the rains have begun. We don't stay long.
-DECEMBER . . . We return to Pennsylvania, and live out of our car in the Philidelphia area while Patty works at a restaurant. We sleep in parking lots and rest stops. It's the coldest December on record for the area, with the wind chill it's -10.



2001
-
JANUARY . . . We head south for warmth, try the Chatooga area of South Carolina, then camp in the woods of northern Florida.
-
FEBRUARY - JUNE . . . We live in Asheville, NC, in the middle of the Southern Appalachains. We spend nearly every day out on the trails, hiking, and learning plants.
-
JULY . . . We get mountain bikes for touring, and bike the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Smokies.
-
AUGUST . . . We camp in the Weminuche Wilderness of southwest Colorado, and do a 6 day fast.
-
SEPTEMBER . . . We stay in Loveland, Colorado with a friend. We climb Long's Peak on the day after 9/11. We then drive to Vermont, and look for a place to live in the Burlington area.
-
OCTOBER - DECEMBER . . . We rent a house in Tucson, AZ, and try to become raw fooders.

2002
-
JANUARY . . . We hike in to Jordan Hot Springs in the Gila.
-
FEBRUARY . . . We bike in to Turkey Creek Hot Springs. We stash our bikes near the mouth of the creek, and hike the rest of the way. Many of the pools have been ruined from floods.
-
MARCH . . . We go to Vermont again, this time the Bennington area of southern Vermont. It's way too cold.
-
APRIL - JULY . . . We rent a house in Asheville, NC again. This time we have a large garden, and become 100% raw fooders. Every day I'm out hiking the trails gathering wild edible plants.
-
AUGUST . . . We cash out all our credit cards, and move up to Shining Rocks Wilderness in the Southern Appalachians, camping at over 5,000 feet. There are blueberry fields everywhere, and blackberry, and wild cherries. Not only are we mono-raw fooders now, much of our food is wild. I hike barefoot everywhere. We bathe in the pool below the falls.
-SEPTEMBER . . . We visit a friend in Atlanta, and on a night full of alcohol I break my foot in 3 places. I'm told I'll be crippled with arthritis, and ultimately never walk again.
-OCTOBER - DECEMBER . . . We rent a furnished condo in Tucson, AZ. I cut my cast off prematurely with tin snips.

2003
-JANUARY . . . We camp off the Gila River at Box Canyon, just up from the city of Gila. I'm still on crutches. We meet Jabber-Mike, and Vet-Mike, and Doug. We trade juniper berries for Doug's black walnuts. We're still 100% raw fooders, and Doug teaches me the local plants.
-FEBRUARY - MARCH . . . We return to Atlanta for free medical care so I can learn how to walk again. PT is hell.
-APRIL - MAY . . . We go back to the Gila and camp off the Gila River. We gather cattail, nettle, primrose flowers, and harvest prickly pear pads. We find the most perfect hot spring in all of the Gila, man-made, at Brock Canyon.
-JUNE . . . We fall off our raw food diet, and camp up at Black Balsam again off the Shining Rock Wilderness. We gather wild strawberries. We then camp above the Amicalola Falls in north Georgia for 2 weeks. We become committed to the idea of buying land.
-JULY - SEPTEMBER . . . We live in Woodstock, GA, just north of Atlanta. I do a 14 day water fast.
-OCTOBER . . . We paddle Fontana Lake in the Smokies, on our way to Nova Scotia. We find a great camp and gather wild persimmons, but ultimately abandon the trip.
-NOVEMBER . . . We go back to camping off the Gila River at Brock Canyon. I begin 'June'. We run totally out of money, and gather and clean 10lbs of desert willow seed to sell to a local guy in Gila. He gives us $20/lb, and we use the money to get back to Georgia.

2004
-JANUARY . . . We go to north Florida, and check out the sinks, and the aquifer springs, and paddle the Wacissa River.
-FEBRUARY . . . We paddle the Suwanee River in North Florida. Patty makes a basket out of greenbriar.
-MARCH . . . We camp in the pine flats of Apalachicola National Forest. We make baskets from grapevine, cordage from the retting of Spanish Moss, and a mat from palmetto. We camp here for 3 weeks with no money while we wait for our tax refund. We're 100% raw fooders again.
-APRIL . . . We camp off Owl Creek and paddle the river. There are free hot showers in a nearby campground. There's a great trail with wild blueberry, and we gather the new shoots of bracken. We later camp in Tate's Hell.
-MAY . . . We camp at Sand Creek in the Ocala National Forest, an hour east of Atlanta. I gather cattail in the Beaver Pond. I edit and type up the 'June' book at a nearby library for a literary agent.
-JUNE . . . We drive out to Oregon and camp off the Illinois River in the Siskiyous.
-JULY . . . We camp in the Adirondacks off Jones Pond.
-AUGUST . . . We camp in the Jemez Region of northern New Mexico. We gather wild mushrooms, and sell lobster mushrooms to chefs in Sante Fe. We camp at San Antonio Hot Springs for a week, and Big Tesuque Campground outside Sante Fe.
-SEPTEMBER . . . We go back to the Gila and camp at Brock Canyon. We gather desert willow seed again. We swim and play games in the river. We see tarantulas. I gather prickly pear fruit in baskets we've made from willow. We take a trip up to Turkey Creek Hot Springs.
-OCTOBER . . . We camp in the Oconee National Forest southeast of Atlanta, under persimmon trees in a field. We also camp up on Pigeon Mountain near Rocktown.
-NOVEMBER - JANUARY . . . We live in Atlanta.

2005
-FEBRUARY - MARCH . . . We move to Portland Oregon. We paddle the Wilamette River, and go to the nude beach at Sauvie Island, just after Mt. St. Helens erupted.
-APRIL . . . We return to north Florida looking for land to buy. Everywhere is flooded, and there's been a lot of damage from the previous hurricane.
-MAY . . . We camp up on Pigeon Mtn. The weather's perfect, and there's more wild food here than anywhere else.
-JUNE . . . We go to Arizona, and camp in the Hannigan area of Apache National Forest. We ultimately try to get back out to Oregon, but car problems make it not possible.
-JULY . . . We return to Pigeon Mtn in Georgia. The blackberries are in.
-AUGUST . . . We stay in a campground off the ocean in Jacksonville, Florida, while we look for jobs and a place to live.
-
SEPTEMBER . . . We move back to Atlanta.
-
OCTOBER . . . We abandon the jeep with 320,000 miles in a motel parking lot.

2006
-MARCH . . . the girls and I camp up at Pigeon Mtn, in a secret camp we've made.
-JUNE . . . the girls and I go back to Pigeon and camp longer, this time starting a wigwam from red maple saplings, muscadine vines, and grass I collect naked in the field with a small knife.
-AUGUST . . . the girls and I camp up at Graveyard Fields off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Every day we gather the wild blueberries and swim in the pool beneath the falls. We hike all the trails, and establish a secret camp in a grove of juneberries.


2007
-FEBRUARY . . . We look at property in north Florida.
-MARCH . . . We look at property in Asheville, NC.
-JUNE . . . We look at the 10 acres in Sunbright, and make an offer.
-AUGUST . . . We close on the Sunbright property, and take the kids to Disneyworld.
-OCTOBER . . . The girls and I camp up on the property in Sunbright, and clean up the trash from the fire. I build a fireplace out of old concrete blocks.

2008
-APRIL - SEPTEMBER . . . The girls and I camp up on the property. We clean out the rest of the trash, build a compost bin for humanure, plant the garden, and fruit trees, I dig the swales, do the stone foundation for the barn, and the stem wall, and the post and beam frame. We build a pad for the gazebo.

2009
-APRIL - JULY . . . The girls and I camp up on the property again. We build the 2 story cabin from scratch, plant another garden, and more fruiting trees and shrubs.
-OCTOBER . . . I put the upper story floor in the barn.
-NOVEMBER . . . The girls and I begin building the barn roof.