Saturday, August 25, 2012

Roses from Cast Stones

The last few days have been very challenging. The folks renting the house across from where we are building our house have developed such a hatred in their hearts towards us they are pulling out all the stops to try and get us shut down. She keeps coming down to the property screaming at the excavators and drillers telling them to shut off their equiptment. They both are endangering themselves and the workers by comming on the property while the equiptment is running. They are calling every possible state and local agency trying to get us shut down and the power company is getting really angry about the constant calls they are receiving from her. Now we found out that they are taking photos of the site when we are not here and sending them to the state and to the woman that owns the land. 

Well it came to a head today when they sent photos of our land after it was blasted to the woman that owns the land and told her that we planned to do the same thing to her land when we dig the ditch to the power pole 20 feet onto a GMP rightaway on her land. The photos they sent her were of  entire house foundation blasted and heaped up. The power trench was to be a narrow 3 foot trench for a power cable only, no comparison at all to a blasted full foundation.  So the land owner put the breaks on and we lost our window of opportunity with the blaster who is packing up and heading for Maine on Monday afternoon. The rep from GMP emailed us and they are getting really angry about the phone calls from this woman. So our options were to go ahead and blast anyway since we have the original letter of permission from the owner and the Dig Safe permit in place, or to not dig and pay approx $1,000.00 more to put a temp service overhead to GMP specs and then pay GMP to set a pole right in out front yard. Legally we probably are in our full right to do the first scenario, but we had to ask ourselves what is morally right.

To top it all off right before this started I entered into one of the worst pain flare ups I have had in couple of years. Intense pain, fevers, rashes, the whole lovely Chronic Lyme gamut. I was having difficulty walking even with a cane and excruciating spasms. The Dr thinks it was a very bad Herxheimer reaction and I think it was made worse by the stress.

So after much reflection we called it all off and told the power co we will pay the extra costs and reluctantly have the pole put in our yard. We are bruised and battered from the stones they are casting at us, all their screaming, spying, photo taking, reporting us to state and local agencies. We opt for 
peace. So if that means they win so be it. I sincerely pray that if they ever buy land and build their
 dream home that they will encounter more welcoming and loving neighbors than than have been able to be to us. But deep in my heart I know that there are no "winners" in this situation because their unhappiness surely stems from something much deeper than having a 20 foot ditch dug in a GMP 
right away on land they do not own.

The lesson for me will continue to be one of compassion not anger or regret. Every time I look out my window and see that huge power pole in my yard I absolutly must train my heart towards compassion for them and not be drawn into the anger and resentment that caused that pole to be placed there. Perhaps I will plant some stunning climbing roses at the base of the pole as a reminder that beauty and love can be born out of any adversity and every time I smell the lovely scent of roses I will be reminded to pray for God to heal those that cast stones produced from a lonley wounded heart.  My heart knows that loving them is the only solution, my ego is struggling, but I am confident that with God's grace my heart will prevail.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Fulfilling Dreams

What a journey this is! It is, at the same time, incredibly exciting, and incredibly stressful. Although I shut down my studio months ago due to health issues Don is still running his Small Dog Handyman business while we build. He is so stretched and being the kind of man he is his customers needs always come before his own needs. I have tried to pick up some of the slack but having been so disabled by advanced neurological Lyme for the last 12 years that I am not able to help as much as I would like to. Due to the extra work I have taken on I was having increasing pain levels and yesterday it came to a head. I was having great difficulty walking even with a cane and I felt very ill. My Dr felt that I was having a Herxheimer reaction on top of doing too much physical activity so I have cut back on on my meds and activity.

To complicate things further we got a call from a very upset neighbor (again) and we need to go up there today to smooth some ruffled feathers. Unfortunately building a house is a messy and loud process and that is very upsetting to some people. We can certainly understand this and we will do our best to assure this neighbor that soon peace and order will be restored to the area. It is just an added stress for us constantly worrying that the noise, dust and smoke are upsetting this neighbor. After all the last thing we want is to disrupt someone's life while we build.  All of the other neighbors have been so uplifting and supportive so when my anxiety levels rise about the upset neighbor I am just reminding myself to offer up gratitude for all of the other amazing neighbors and their excitement for us and our project. That does my heart good.

Before my pain levels totally grounded me I took some photos of the drilling rig arriving. This is the rig that will drill the blast holes for the foundation hole. The are starting to blast today but unfortunately I don't think I will be able to go up there unless there is a dramatic change in my pain soon. Hopefully I will be better by tomorrow and will be able to see some blasting then.

On a brighter note when we laid out the position of the house we were able to get it facing closer to solar south than we thought we would be able to. Solar south is 15 degrees east of magnetic south and you can still get a really good solar gain another 15 degrees from solar south. We were able to position the house only 5 degrees off of solar south.  I am thrilled with how sunny and bright the building site is turning out to be!

I have had a chance to explore more of our 36 acres and it is so breathtaking. I am absolutely in love with the land and all the diversity these woods have. There is still  huge area of the property we have not even had a chance to explore yet. Something to look forward to in the near future!

 Don patched up the area where the machines came through and made a rustic stone wall that fits right in with the landscape. 

 Down in back of this access roadway they are working on the septic, which is a mound system because of all the ledge.

 Here is another shot of the septic in process. One of our neighbors said it looked like an indian burial mound. LOL

 Here comes the truck with the drill rig on it! What an odd looking machine.

 This is the rig that will drill the holes for blasting out the foundation hole.

 I am thrilled with how sunny our site is turning out to be. The house site has great southern exposure!

 The driveway is starting to look more like a driveway!

 The very loud and dusty process of drilling the blast holes!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Woodland Wonders

We had a really busy weekend up at the land. Don got a shed built and we got a ton of brush burned! Today we are heading back up to lay out the foundation footprint for the blaster who will be blasting the foundation hole this week. There are more pictures of the progression of our building project at this link: , But for today I though I would just post some of the pretty pictures I took in the woods. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Photos from the Old Homestead

 Don. looking very much the hippie farmer, contemplating a large carrot from the garden

I remember celebrating Don's 50th birthday when we lived on our old homestead in Morgan, VT. It seems so appropriate that 17 years later we are heading back to the woods as I approach my 50th birthday in December.

It is so surreal having excavators clear the site, blasters for the foundation and well drillers this time around because when Don and I built our first house in the Northeast Kingdom, (on the Canadian border of Vt), we did everything by hand. We dug the spring fed well, cleared the land  by hand with just the 2 of us. We used pulleys and a 2 wheel drive truck to pull the logs out of the woods and most of the stumps were left. We had a portable sawmill come in and we milled all the lumber to build our barn and part of our house with. We built that house on piers so we did not need an excavator or blasting done to dig a foundation as we do with this one. We ended up lifting that house up and adding a walkout basement later which was a pretty awesome project.  Each time we got more livestock we would clear a paddock for them, we had pigs, dairy goats, chickens, ducks, geese, and beef calves, so we cleared lots of paddocks! This time it is all moving so fast.

The pace will slow down considerably when it comes time to actually build the house. We won't be hiring a "Framing crew" to build it, it will just be Don and Andy, his son-in-law, who we are hiring to come over for 2 weeks from NH to help with the framing. All the electrical, plumbing, sheetrock, taping, cabinetry and interior finish work will be done by Don. So that is going to take some time because he will still be running his Small Dog Handyman business during the week and I am no plumber or electrician LOL!

Here are some photos from our old Homesteading days. We don't plan to do as much as we did back then but it certainly is fun to look back and we travel forward on our journey.

Don and I in our woods in Morgan, Vt up near the Canadian boarder with our collies, Rosie & Noah

Goat milk, eggs and an abundance of veggies. When we were homesteading every item on our plates was home grown or home made. Even the beer and wine. I even made my own clothes back then. 

 Lots of canning, everything from veggies, bone broths, pickles, applesauce, juice, and vinegars. 

 Two of our goats, Lolly and Joey, and bull calf Simon...yes we named them all!

Noah and I heading out to the garden
 Don bottle feeding a calf 

 Don milking Lolly. Look at all that hair he had back then, and it wasn't white LOL!

 Rosie "Helping" Don collect maple sap for sugaring

My beloved greenhouse!

Don is the little speck cutting down the very tall tree. He cleared the site entirely by hand!

Rosie and Noah keeping a path open into the woods. We used them as livestock guardian dogs. They were totally dedicated to protecting the livestock. 

Don loading logs onto the portable bandsaw mill to mill lumber to build our barn with

Don standing on the second story of the barn waving at me. That is Seymour Lake in the background.
We owned 25 acres above the lake on Wildwood Valley Road. The name of the road was later changed to Toad Pond Road, 

Making cheese from our goat milk and hanging it in cheese cloth to strain.
The yellow liquid is whey that I used in soups or fed to the pigs. 

Don picking Hubbard squash

Now that is a load of hay!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Day of Rest

Tomorrow we begin clearing the house site on the land and I am wicked sick, I am believing I will feel much better tomorrow but for today I am down for the count, just hanging out reading and watching Roku.  After a short shopping trip to the food co-op I realized I was useless and sent Don off to do the rest of the errands on his own. He bought a new compass at Sam's in downtown Brattleboro so we can fine tune the position of the house tomorrow to maximize solar gain. We also need to calculate the overhangs for summer shade.  He also had to run to Home Depot in Keene to pick up a power panel or something like that, because someone from the power co. is meeting us at the land tomorrow.

Because I have been feeling so lousy we have not been up to the land since the closing so tomorrow should be lots of fun. I have been having a horrible Herxheimer reaction since I restarted antibiotics for the Lyme so I cut the abx does in half today thinking that might help me to feel better tomorrow. Don is getting the RV all gassed up so we can drive that up to the land for me to rest in when I get tired. That will be a huge help. Once we have a clearing and the driveway roughed in we will be camping out up there quite a bit I imagine.