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.
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Monday, December 1, 2008

Plans for a Cabin

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We've decided to shift focus on our property and stop work on the barn, and instead build a small cabin.

I'm happy with how the barn has gone so far, but I think I started off with too big a project. Not so much the labor involved, but simply the cost of materials for a structure that large (26oo sq. ft.)

Here's where the barn is now:

The OSB Advantech flooring for the roof is $20 a sheet, and at 1300 sq ft, adds up to 40 sheets, or $800, plus the cost of tax. If you include the adhesive and fasteners, we're looking at about a grand.

The flooring is the next step. The nice thing about the Advantech is it holds up to the weather well, which is good considering the pace at which I build.

After the flooring is in, the next step is all the framing for the gambrel roof. I haven't gotten an exact item by item estimate for all this wood, but I'm going with a ballpark figure of around $1,500.

The metal roofing we did get a price for, about $1,250, plus tax and delivery and of course fasteners.

So it will cost us another 4 grand just to get a roof on the barn and get it "dried in".

And of course that process of building alone or with Patty's help will take months.

And even though we get a roof, which is great, you can't exactly move in, and we'll still have bugs.

So I'm going to build a small cabin instead. In hindsight I wish I'd done that this year, instead of sinking so much time and money in the barn. But I didn't know where to begin, and I naively thought I could finish off the barn rather quickly.

After 6 months of living on basically raw land, and working, every day, all day, one thing I've learned - you must have shelter. Shelter is priority #1. Even if it's small that's fine. In fact the smaller the better as far as thermal efficiency. Anything around a few hundred square feet can be heated with a wood stove. You get out of the weather, away from insects, the sun, you have a place to recuperate. It seems obvious now when I look at it - but sometimes "common sense" things tend to go by the wayside with me.

We cannot go back up there and go back to living in tents long-term. We need real shelter.

The key is in deciding where this cabin should go. I want to stick with the original vision for the property, not start putting up random buildings everywhere and hope for the best. This is my original drawing for how I felt the land should be developed:

I'd decided to site the cabin right where I'd planned to put the garage, south of the garden. There's an old slab there, which I can't use structurally (it's cracked and not level), but I could use it as a moisture barrier underneath the cabin. I'll do a pier foundation around the old slab, and then build a raised platform floor above the slab. This should help keep all that wood dry.

Here's a photo of where the cabin will go:

On the opposite side of the garden (south of it), just to the left of the power pole. One nice thing is power will be right there. But if we want running water I'll have to lay pipe.

It seems counterintuitive to put a building south of your garden, and block it with shade, which is the only qualm I have about this site. But the garden is huge, the building will only top out at 13 feet, and the sun is high overhead blasting this area all day. If the building does reduce the sun to some of the far beds, we'll just plant our lettuce there, and anything else that likes a little more shade and moisture.

The sun takes a while to climb over the woods to the east, so by the time it hits the garden it's quite high - so the cabin may not block the sun to the garden at all. And it might actually serve as a valuable windbreak.

Here's my drawing for the cabin:

I've priced it out at 3 grand. So that's a complete, finished structure, for a thousand less than just getting a roof on the barn. It seems to be the best way to go, and I wish I'd started out that way this past summer. But you live and learn. I didn't even conceive of the idea of a cabin until our last week there.

The cabin will be 320 sq ft, 16'x20', with the long end running along the southern border of the garden. These measurements sort of go with the old slab, which is about 14'x18'. The high side of the cabin will be towards the north, the low side to the south.

I'm going with a shed roof for several reasons. For one I don't want a low ceiling inside, with an attic or upper story. With a building this size that will be claustrophobic. I want a loft inside, for storage, and a kid play/sleep area, and I want a dwelling where all of the space is used. So it makes sense to me to go with a shed roof, and use the high side for the loft. It will be a low loft, but high enough for them to sleep and play and store things. A shed roof is also very easy to build. All the roof framing runs in one direction, with an overlap of the walls to keep rain out. I like the look also.

The reason the high side will be north, instead of south, which doesn't seem very passive solar, is that to the south is just a hill and the dirt road. If we put all the windows towards the north, we'll have a wonderful view overlooking the garden, as well as the rest of the property, and the woods above. I love the idea of having windows where your immediate view is a huge productive garden. And as far as passive solar issues, this is a small stick-frame building (which I will insulate, I want it to be comfortable and complete), that, at least for 6 months of the year, sits in a site that gets hammered with sun all day. It might help us stay cool through that difficult period. And as far as winter, we'll have a woodstove. 320 sq ft shouldn't be too difficult to heat, especially with good insulation, and the sleeping loft for the kids should stay very warm.

The back of the building, or north side, will also have a long narrow roofed porch, so we can sit out back in front of the garden when we don't feel like being inside.

We might ultimately add on at some point, and put a deck on the west side of the cabin. But that would be a far-in-the-future project.

Here's a drawing of the platform that will support the cabin:

The pier foundation will run in three rows, each row 8' apart. The piers themselves running the 20' length will go 10' apart. So 9 piers altogether. I'm going to build them like this:

Dig down to rock-hard clay, at least 12", if not 24" (our frost depth is 6"). Shape the bottom of the hole by widening it out so there's a large foot on the bottom of the pier. Pour and smooth the concrete level, then shove rod in as deep as I can go, two pieces for each pier. When the concrete is dry I'll stack four concrete blocks (looped over the rod), two on top of two, running different directions, then fill with concrete, and put in a long J bolt when I'm sure exactly where it should go (that will be the tricky part - I'll need to do very good site-work before I start, with batter boards and line). It will also be tricky to figure out exactly the right height for each pier - I'll use a laser level and mark a stick by each hole, and smooth out the concrete right at the mark, and I should get close.

The central pier will need to go in the middle of the driveway. So I'll score it with my circular saw and diamond tip blade, then try and punch out the section with a sledge. I'll then dig down and do the pier like the others.

On top of each pier will go a masonry to wood connector (pricy, like $8 - hopefully my local hardware store will be cheaper). Then I'll run treated 10' 2x10s from pier to pier, lengthwise, or east-west. Each run of 2x10 will be doubled into a 4x10 beam. These beams will function as the sill.

Between these beams I'll put in hangers and hang 2x10 joists (8' lengths, untreated, 16" o.c.). I want a sturdy floor. We'll have us, and possibly company, and furniture, and the stove, and a bathtub, a lot of weight. I don't want it moving.

As you can see from the drawing, the central joist on the north side of the cabin will be doubled. The reason is that this will support a post which will support the loft and the roof. I wish I could put this post directly over the center pier, but then I'd have to bring my loft out 8', which I'd rather not do. I'd planned on having the loft come out only 6'. So this is one detail of the plans which makes me still a little nervous, and I'll have to think about more. I could put blocks underneath that part of the doubled joist where the post will be - that's one option. I'm not sure yet.

On top of the joist will go 10 sheets of flooring, OSB Advantech (50 year warranty, and weathers well). The nice thing about going with a 16'x20' dimension, is that fits perfectly with 4'x8' flooring.

At both ends of the length of the platform, parallel with the joists, will go a treated 2x10x16'. This will function as a rim joist.

Here is the guts drawing for what will go above the platform:

The framing will be 2x6 24" o.c. I like this because 2x6 allows deep window sills and heavy insulation in the walls, and 24" o.c. allows me to frame and plug in windows later, if I get narrow ones, rather than incorporate them right off the bat with jack and cripple studs and headers.

The central post will be a doubled 2x6, with another 2x6 attached to the north side as a cleat, which the loft header will rest on (2x8, 20'). The loft joists will be 2x8 24"o.c., so I can tie it directly into the studs and possibly use the loft for heavy storage. The roof framing again 24" o.c., to run on top of the studs, and 2x8 because the roof is low-slope, and if we do get heavy snow (unlikely but possible), it won't buckle.

The door will go on the north side, so protected by the short roof over the porch.

I'll use metal roofing, cut to length. It seems the best cheap, long-lasting, easy-to-install solution, and I don't mind at all the sound of rain pounding on a metal roof. And I'm going to try local green wood for the exterior, a veritcal board and batten, that I'll coat with linseed oil.

The barn will remain a priority, and if we have money left over, I will try and get a roof on. There are two reasons for this. One, is to protect all that lumber we put up. Sure, I can seal it again, but it will inevitably decay if left out in the sun and rain month after month.

The other reason is water. We get 50 to 60 inches of rain annually in Sunbright. If you do the math, and look at this much rain, with the size of the roof, we could harvest all of our annual water needs from the roof alone. It will produce around 40,000 gallons. That's over a hundred gallons a day. All I'd need to do is dig and pour a cistern (probably much cheaper than purchasing one). This way if we have drought, and the well dries up, we still have year-round water. And very clean water also, not loaded with sulfer and iron like our well-water (which will run us 2 grand to filter). There is no sane reason that every dwelling that goes up doesn't have a cistern for its roof. The amount of water just thrown away is staggering.

So when I go back up April 1st, I'll start building the cabin. I'm hoping to get it done in a month. But that might be too optimistic. At the very least I'd like the roof on and the studs covered in sheathing, with a hole for the door (I'll cut in windows later). This way we can actually use the structure, and get out of tents.

And the barn will be our sort of Great Pyramid, that we chip away at, over time.
-

5 comments:

Terrence Maddox said...

Hello,

I have been reading your Blog for some time.
I enjoy watching your progress and your education.

What your are attempting is beautiful.

If you care for advice, I'll offer, I've been building much, with little resources, for many years.

I think that your small cabin idea is "Spot On", but you may be assessing the cost much lower than it will be.
I would be frugal with wall and window structure and invest in roofing.

Have you considered alternative building methods?
Straw bale, post and beam/cord wood fill, yurt...
Recycled materials? Dumpster diving?

If memory serves correctly, the soil conditions in your area are perfect for inexpensive foundation and floor work.

Is there access to natural stone on your property?

Traditional carpentry, as you know, is expensive, and time consuming.

....any way, I hope I havn't intruded too much.

Keep living!

Rob said...

I would love advice.
You're probably right that 3k is too low an estimate for total cost. It depends on where you draw the line. I'm thinking 3k for an unfinished cabin - nothing but walls, a roof, and OSB floor.
As far as doors and windows, we do have a Habitat for Humanity right in town.
Yes I'm absolutely open to scavenged materials, dumpster diving, whatever. Unfortunately our local county dump does not allow you to go in and take anything - that was originally where we thought we'd get much of our materials. Maybe we'll try to tear down an old barn somewhere, if we can't afford lumber.
Our soil conditions are a 90/10 sand/clay mix - I tested it using the jar method in EARTHBAG BUILDING.
I'm 1000% open to alternative construction - we plan on building our passive solar home out of either earthbags, cob, or cordwood masonry. The reason I've been going with stick-frame for the cabin is speed. I'm all alone, and I need to get a structure up as fast as possible for my family to move in. Is there a solid method of building you think would be faster than stick-frame?
Thanks for the input.

Terrence Maddox said...

"I'm all alone, and I need to get a structure up as fast as possible for my family to move in. Is there a solid method of building you think would be faster than stick-frame?"

Pole Frame, not unlike your barn.

6"x6" a few feet in the ground.
Along the walls (between posts) use a packed gravel footer like you did on your barn.
Fill in the space between the poles (on the footer) with straw bales (if you have a source local).
Cord wood, cans, bottles, water cooler jugs... work as wall fill as well.
Your soil with a few additives provides the mortar and skim coat.

As far as the roof is concerned, keep an eye out for tin roofing from old barns, sheet metal scraps...

Below is a link that has plenty of links that should give you plenty of ideas as well as resources of knowledge. http://www.thatroundhouse.info/index.htm

Search for straw bale construction as well.

As far as cooking and heating, research Rocket Stoves.

It is good to see a fellow that is using his noggin'

Keep up the dream and keep writing as well!

Rob said...

Thanks Terrence.

I had ruled out straw bale because of moisture concerns in the eastern U.S. Is there a specific strategy for keeping it dry? In BUILDING GREEN they wrap it in Tyvek Home Wrap. We're fine through the summer, with all the sun, but in the winter we can get weeks of fog and rain.

Do you think I could get away with a rubble trench of just gravel? I'm all out of stone.

What would the floor be for such a dwelling? Is there some way I could integrate the old cracked driveway slab?

[I just spent the night up on the property, 17 degrees, going to do a post on it]

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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.........................

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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.
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SEPTEMBER . . . We move back to Atlanta.
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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.