For me, there’s guilt in ripping apart this house and rebuilding it.
First it’s the pain of knowing that you’re cutting apart a house that’s stood the test of time. For us, our house was built in 1843. So it’s pretty much 170 years old, and it’s still standing and it’s brick walls are still square and are still standing. So cutting out floor joists because they’re sagging and the floors are out of level just seems a little mean. To the house, I mean. Mean spirited. Like the house has feelings or something. Doesn’t everyone feel like that? In tune with their house?
Damn. Just me then.
I had this lovely thought when we were pulling out the ceiling joists and I was looking at the timber, that this tree was probably alive during the revolutionary war. The tree whose wood we were cutting and pulling down was probably standing when the pilgrims arrived. These beams, they might not any longer be part of the structural integrity of our home, but we’re going to keep them in our home. We’re thinking of ways of recycling them. I’d like to see them become the benches that will sit at either side of our dinner table, supporting another generation at family dinners. Stubborn Boy would like to see them turned into our kitchen island, where we will craft all of our delicious food experiments.
(Hard apple cider? Fermented cabbage? Homemade vinegar? Any suggestions?)
Of course these beams will remain in the house. I just need to get over the fact that we’re not hurting the house. We’re making it strong again, so it can stand for another 170 years or longer.
Have you ever gutted a house? And then tried to rebuild it? It’s agonizing. It’s uplifting. It’s a lot of work…
We’ve been at it since October. First there was demolition of the upstairs. then we cleaned the basement. “Bagging the ick,” that’s my name for that horrible job. Spiders and cobwebs and thirty years of an indoor trash dump (sometimes you just have to ask yourself, Who Were These People? Seriously a trash heap in your house? Eww).
Then after weeks of bagging the ick, we were so filled up with trash that we couldn’t move and had to order a dumpster. Three weekends. Maybe four? I don’t remember anymore.
Next while getting to the bottom of why the floor in the bathroom squishes, we discover that the floor is just basically one or two floorboards away from collapse. Three trips to Lowes, one week just for the floor and wall panels, another two to get the toilet working. The wall plastering is still a work in progress. Plus running new plumbing fixtures and pipes. Three weeks ? More or less..
Next start demo on the main floor. Get halfway through. Realize you’re buried in trash, again. Order dumpster, again. Two weekends.
Realize that after three weeks of jacking up the house, you’re not fixing the unlevel part of the house, and are just making another part of the floor unlevel, so come up with plan B and cut out all of the floor joists. And then restring them using double joist brackets. Then subfloor. One weekend. Per floor. Per side of house. X 3 so far… = three more weeks.
We’ve been at it since October. While it’s a lot newer than it was when we started, it still looks almost exactly the same. There’s something frustrating about that, if you ask me. Although the smells are a lot nicer. I’d rather smell glue and paint and sawdust, then smell animal and foul and yuck.
I love the way life feels when its Spring. I love getting the first warm breeze of spring against my cheek when I’m out walking, rather than the arctic blast of frozen ice that seems is the epitome of winter.
Spring is also the time to check out all the seed catalogs and start planning the garden for the year! Yay!
I’m always really ambitious when it comes to the garden. I always want to try every single seed. And it never even bothers me that when it comes time to planting, I’m in the garden three times as long as everyone else because i’ve usually got hundreds of plants to dig into the earth. I’ve been reading the seed catalogs over and over, comparing them to their competition and narrowing my choices down for the year. I guess it really is important to pick the right seed, because in a climate like the one at Stubborn Girl Farm, you really only get to plant the vegetables once a year.
This year is a new planting zone for me. It’s colder than the zone at Stubborn Boy’s family home where we’ve had a garden the last five years. We’re also way above sea level, so my little seedlings won’t get soaked by salt water levels. I’ve always been so envious of people who just throw seeds in the ground and get amazing veggies. It was always such a struggle to plant out at Fire Island, where even the raised beds didn’t protect the plants from all the flooding.
And since this is the first year in our new planting zone, our new climate, I’m ordering seeds and planning on a gigantic humongous garden. Even though, I know in my heart of hearts that we’re still in a construction zone, that my plants could possibly get trampled by all the workboots stomping around the house. And since we don’t have time to spare from the house for fencing, I’m (rightly so) worried about the deer. And it feels a little wrong to take precious dollars from our construction budget to put toward seed packets that might not work out anyway. I know that we don’t have time to properly turn the soil on a double dig.
There are a million excuses why planting this year is a very bad idea. But I don’t really care. Somehow I just think it’s all going to work out. I mean, I didn’t buy a farm just so I could have a really big yard. I bought a farm because it’s in alignment with my vision of my future. And there’s no point living in the future when the present is right here waiting for you.
Thrive on, little plants. Let’s all get on with this thing called living!