(This is the seventh in an eight-part series about our early attempts at modern homesteading. If you’re just tuning in, you may want to start back at the first one and work your way forward.)
We’re using a post-and-beam construction technique. It’s the easy way to go for the open floor plan we’re set on. After putting in floor joists, we begin work on our posts. Lifting them into place is a struggle—each post is made up of three 2×6 boards that are ten feet long, weighing almost 150 pounds each. That’s a lot for the two of us to manage without proper equipment. As physical as the work is, it’s not enough to keep us warm on fall days.
On October 5, as we begin the fourth month of our adventure, we raise the last of the twenty first-floor posts. The same day we’re surprised to look out over the field and spot our first snowfall of the season; leaves are just now beginning to change color.
Beam-lifting turns out to be another feat requiring engineering creativity. Eleven-foot lengths of built up 2×10’s are even heavier than the posts and have to be lifted eight feet up to attach to the posts. Relying on ladders makes us nervous as we fit and nail beams and posts together.
With the beams in place, we can install the tongue-and-groove upstairs floor, which will also serve as the downstairs ceiling. We don’t have a floor downstairs yet, but one upstairs is necessary to get on with the next steps. My parents lend helping hands again.
Back in the shed, it’s gotten pretty chilly. We have a small electric space heater, but with an open doorway and our flimsy structure, it heats the rest of the county, too. Just for the sake of warmth, we usually dress for the next day before we hop into our sleeping bags each night.
The fall colors are enchanting. Clouds drift by, creating fascinating patterns of light and shadow on the mountains, Nature’s kaleidoscope. It’s so mesmerizing often we find it hard to focus on work.
Second floor posts and beams go up, followed by beams to support the ceiling and roof. To work on these, we lay a 2×10 board across the lower beams as a precarious scaffold of sorts.
After adding upstairs ceiling boards, we close in the structure with plywood and blackboard—hanging precariously around the sides, under the bottom, and over the top to do so—all because we lack scaffolds and sufficiently long ladders.
By golly, it’s actually beginning to look like a house.
(Stay tuned for the next episode of Early Days on the Diagonal.)