A year ago, we were sitting down discussing our plans and future for our land. In previous conversations we had decided that we would continue living and working in town while driving out to the property periodically and slowly building the cabin and getting the farm set up. The more we talked the more we came to realize that would not be the best use of our resources.
It would cost more gas and wear-and-tear on our vehicle with the extra miles. It would make for even longer work days. By the time we drove 45 minutes to the property from town and set up the tools, we would only get maybe 30 minutes to work before we’d need to put all the tools away and then drive 45 minutes back home. Not worth it. Maybe we could get a pre-built shed and have it delivered and live in that. The closest place that builds them is an hour-and-a-half away and a small shed is $8k. That wouldn’t necessarily be a waste of money since we could repurpose the shed to a workshop once our cabin was built. But expensive.
Hmmm. We could get a tent. Live in that. At first, I rejected the idea because I am deathly afraid of bears and this is, after all, bear country. A well-established bear trail is on our next door neighbor’s property. The river valley is in the State Land that adjoins our property. There are lots and lots of bears fishing for salmon down there in the summer. Do I want a bear coming on my land with just me and Little Girl with a thin piece of fabric separating us from it? Um, No.
Maybe we could get a travel trailer or RV? Well, that’s the thing. We live in Alaska where people want premium prices for garbage. Where the RV they drove up in during the 70’s or 80’s that has never been refurbished and has water damage is for sell now and they want twice what they paid for it 40 years ago. Seriously, I’m not making this up. We toyed with the idea of flying down to the States and finding a cheaper RV and driving it back up. It would be cheaper to do that than buy one that was already up here. Still, it seemed like a waste of money and time.
Okay, back to the tent idea. I had told Mr. Open Sky I would camp out for the spring and summer but I wanted the cabin livable for hunting season in August. By the end of August we start getting frosty nights in this area so I wanted the comfort and warmth of a log cabin, not canvas warmed with a propane heater.
I am an analyst and organizer by nature, so I charted out all our expenses, current and future. I charted out what we could afford and what it would take to make the first story happen this summer. We came to an agreement that we could make it happen, although it would stretch us thin. The ends would justify the means. Once we made the decision, it was nerve-wracking because there was no going back. We were all in.
So, we got the floor laid and on it set up the canvas tent that would be our home for the next few months. Or so we thought at the time. The canvas was waterproof, so we weren’t concerned with getting wet in there, but we wanted to keep the kitchen enclosure, which had no floor, as dry as possible too. We also wanted to try to keep the cabin floor as dry as possible because it sucks when plywood gets wet. Discussions ensued as to how we would keep the floor and tent as dry as possible. For the most part, honestly, we weren’t that worried about rain. It doesn’t rain a ton around here. But it Does rain. Well we came up with the solution to buy a very large tarp to cover the area. There aren’t any trees near the cabin, so we don’t have that to help hold up the tarp. We ended up getting some 2×4’s and making some sort of bracing/frames attached to the floor beams and then attached the tarp to them. Then we guyed out to various bushes and baby birches around the area. Great in theory, right? Wait. It is ALWAYS windy here, did I mention that? And then the rain started…
I swear, my life became all about rain and wind control and tarps. We literally spent more time messing with those tarps than building. Wind gusts up to 35mph. Nearly every day it rained. Several tarps tore through. We had 2×4’s ripped out and broken. Plus there was the sweeping of water off the floor constantly. By the time we got our first load of logs, I was already so done with tarps and rain and wind and the project had barely even started. We just went through one of the wettest summers on record. Of course we did. Because we needed it to be dry. I will say, I was so super thankful for that tent. It kept us 100% dry in our sleeping area.
One day we came home from running errands in town to find one tarp had completely ripped off and the second (and biggest) one was 75% ripped off due to the high winds. We stood there and looked at it flapping in the wind to our dismay. “I’m sooo tired of dealing with these tarps! We have spent more time on tarp-control than building!” I griped to my husband. We stood for a few more minutes. Glaring. Hoping they would fix themselves. Mr. Open Sky apparently came to a silent decision because he strode over to the tent and started cutting lines to fully free the remaining tarp. And that ended the summer of the tarp. Next we are moving on to getting those darn walls up and the second floor on so we can just move in, hoping and praying that there will be minimal rain for the rest of the autumn.