Tag Archives: partnership

November Update: Home Is Where the House Is

Where to even begin!

Our house is dry-in  (as far as we can tell)!  That means waterproof, that means the outside is pretty much done!

And the house moved to Oregon.  Wait…what?  You’re in Oregon now?  Yes, we’re in Oregon.  Our lease was up on the sheep ranch we were still building, so it was time to mosey on.   Good thing we’re building a house on wheels.  Now we’re living in a small community in southwestern Oregon near Ashland.  Trillium Farm is a stunningly beautiful place, and we are feeling very fortunate to living here alongside inspiring people, deep in the wilderness.

Here are some pictures of our little house, as we put the roof up and siding on.

 

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And here it she sits, at Trillium, in Oregon.

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If you blow up the picture below you can see small houses dotting the hillside, and if you look reeally close, you can spot Hoss, our big yellow truck.  If you don’t want to squint, just rest your eyes and know that we live just above that green valley down the middle.
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A baby bear print.

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Joseph is in New York now, planning another fun year of Christmas-tree-forest wonder on the  Lower East Side at St. Marks Church in the Bowery. #TreeRidersNYC 

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Here is a picture of the tiny house he builds every year on the sidewalk of Manhattan… more pics and upgrades to come!

Year one, very little building skills required mostly nailed together then scrapped 😦

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Year two, a little more skillful from year one.  We kept some of the pieces for re-use:

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Year Three: after working on tiny house.  This one was built in panels that bolt onto a base then bolt together… much like our house!  And the only thing I will be replacing is the floor (which got kind of snow/water-logged last year).

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Sarah has started a new job with SumOfUs.  SumOfUs is a worldwide movement for a better global economy, which fights for people over profits, and to limit corporate power.  Sarah serves as the Executive Program Coordinator where she… coordinates programs for the Executives 🙂  She works closely with the Executive Director and Chief of Staff, and also the Board and major donors.   The SumOfUs staff all works remotely so Sarah can carry out her duties while nestled in the mountains of Oregon… or cozied up in a Tree Shack in the East Village, NYC… or even while sipping coffee on a visit to sunny Petaluma!

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Here is a photo from a recent SumOfUs action in Australia, from a campaign to stop Doritos from using palm oil sourced from rainforest deforestation.  More on the Doritos campaign here.  And all of SumOfUs’ campaigns here.

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So, there the house rests in Oregon, and here we are, New York at the moment, and Oregon again soon.  Change swirling around us as we relax into movement as a way of being.  What the new year will bring?  Who knows.  All we know is that this linear time will keep coming and we’ll keep flexing and learning, board by board.

Next up:  Helpful practices we use to keep our heads straight while building.

 

Here’s Annie-Lamb-Boleyn just for good measure:wpid-20141015_161304.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Learning to build, then building, then learning to fix our mistakes

by Sarah

So this house-building thing takes a long time.  The house may be tiny… but it still takes a long time!

After reviewing the Tumbleweed DVD this morning, we realized we’d missed a little detail… the sheathing that we’ve put up on the three walls we’ve constructed was supposed to overhang above and below the wall in order to attach to the roof and trailer’s fascia.  We made an overhang below the wall and not above.  It’s probably not that big of a deal.  As in, we won’t have to re-do those walls.  We will figure out a way to fix it, to attach small pieces of sheathing to something, to make it work.

After this little setback, and the ensuing disappointment, I reminded myself that:

1.  It’s got to be about the process and not just the destination.  Because the destination is far away, sometimes it feels very far away.

2.  We are learning how to build.  This is a useful and transferable skill.

3.  We are learning to work together.

4.  We are learning to be humble and to learn a new thing.  How often in our adult lives do we get to learn something totally new, to be complete beginners again?  Not that often.

I hesitated writing this post, because I want this website to be fun, and not to focus too much on the frustrations.  At the same time, frustration is a big part of building a tiny house if you’ve never built a house before.  I want to be honest about this.  It is hard.  It’s not obvious.  There are many little pieces and no clear and simple recipe.  Building is an art, and it’s vast.  We are sloppily finger-painting our ways towards something.  I hope it will be a house that stands straight, resists rains, and keeps us warm.

I did feel encouraged when I ran through those four points, though, reminding myself of all the ways we are learning and growing, even when the external progress on the house appears so slow.

Also encouraging, we’ve had company this week!  Joseph’s brother Adam stayed with us for the past ten days and it was so fun to have another person to build with.  Since we left our Sonoma build site, it’s just been the two of us (and sometimes only Joseph!).  Having Adam here reminded us of how fun and energizing it is to do things with other people!

Here are some photos of our build progress.

Building the latest wall
Building the latest wall

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Adam and Joseph cutting the plywood to fit around the wheel well.
Adam and Joseph cutting the plywood to fit around the wheel well.
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Adam

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We've got three walls!
We’ve got three walls!

Life on the Sheep Ranch

There’s a ranch in Sonoma County, with sheep and cows mostly – some horses, turkeys, bobcats, jackrabbits, a family of deer, and a tall redwood where ravens harass red-tails, and owls just try to blend in.  A three-mile dirt road winds off of a twelve-mile, farm-lined paved road (that leads to ‘civilization’), and at the end of that road is the ranch, a house, and us.    We are caretakers of this land for the owners (who live elsewhere).  Our lives are rich with sheepy-details and sheepy-learnings; we are the shepherds here.

We love this place.  We love the rolling California hills, which were kelly green and smacked of Ireland when we arrived six months ago, and are now a deep, golden-brown .  Here is a little video of us and the property only a few days after we arrived.


We have both lived in plenty of off-grid situations before, but neither of us knew anything about animal husbandry.  There are two flocks of sheep we’re responsible for, one for meat, one for milk, about 150 sheep in total.  We feed them, water them, repair their barn, and generally keep an eye on them.  They tend to get their heads stuck in fences,  sprain ankles, and sometimes they escape their pastures, only to get left behind by the herd.  As herd animals, being alone is the worst.

A month or two after we arrived a mama sheep died, and we raised her baby, who we started calling Lambikin (rhymes with ramekin).  We fed her lamb formula from a bottle twice a day for about two months.  She stayed around our house and slept in a barn across from us rather than wandering with the herd.

Here is a Lambikin photo collection, from our first feeding when she was just a  baby lamb, to a photo from just the other day, where you can see her as the robust, trouble-making teenage lamb that she is now.

Lambie's first feeding. She was terrified of us at first.  But it only took a couple of days for her to change her mind about us, and soon she was following us around.
Lambie’s first feeding. She was terrified of us at first. But it only took a couple of days for her to change her mind, and soon she was following us around.
Lambs don't really like to cuddle or play the ways dogs or cats do.  We guess that as "prey" animals it feels like an attack.  But Lambikin does like having her neck scratched, she also likes bumping up against you so that she knows where you are, and resting her head in your hand.
Lambs don’t really like to cuddle or play the ways dogs or cats do. We think that as prey animals it feels like an attack. But Lambikin does like having her neck scratched, she also likes bumping up against you so that she knows where you are, and resting her head in your hand.
Kind of the best photo of Lambikin ever, with our dear friend's wonderful son.  He was scared of Lambie at first (he'd never seen such an animal before!) and she was scared of him ('cause she's scared of pretty much everything) but they got used to each other and we think they even shared some baby mammal secrets with each other.
Kind of the best photo of Lambikin ever, with our dear friend’s wonderful son. He was scared of Lambie at first (he’d never seen such an animal before!) and she was scared of him (because she’s scared of pretty much everything), but they got used to each other and we think they even shared some baby mammal secrets with each other.
A very patient lamb.
A very patient lamb.
Lambikin on the runway.
Lambikin on the runway.
Lambie is starting to get Sheepie.
Lambie is starting to get Sheepie.

Eventually, and with trepidation, we re-introduced her to the flock.   She is doing really well there.  We think she is a well-adjusted sheep.  When we go out to feed the sheep  they all run away (they always run away, that’s what they do), but Lambie runs towards us baa-ing her baa that is so distinctive only to us.  We love her the most.

This is an experiment.  Testing the waters of living off the map, with the hope of one day parking our tiny house in a place like this.  A place that has room for community; a place with open land where you don’t have to worry about running the tractor into anything and the circadian rhythm of life takes over.  A place where we can step outside and take a deep breath when we need some space to create or wander.

This is one of many seeds being sown right now.  We’re learning new skills at every turn and planning way down in the sub-conscious for something still to come.  What it looks like…well…how can we know?

Or as Lambikin would certainly say…..  Baa.