To build and maintain a small tidy house in the country

I hate clutter.

At the moment I am surrounded by it.

In just the room I am sitting in there are eight boxes of books, magazines, a pile of rugs,  a partially disassembled play pen, stack(s) of baskets,  multiple piles of  construction tools.  The kitchen is not much better, nor the office.

We are moving.

I was up yesterday morning at 4:30, making a list of goals for the day.  I didn’t stop last night until after 7, until I had the high speed Internet cable and phone line moved.

In case you are new here, or out of the loop, last January we realized we could no longer afford to keep doing things the way we had been.  Won’t go into all of that again.  You can read about it here, here, here and here.

So we are downsizing from an 1800 sq foot 2 story farm-house to living on just the first floor = 900 sq ft.

It is painful.

I love books.  My wife loves books.

Our neighbor built us four oak book cases several years ago to house a portion of our book collection.  We only have room for two.

We chose to shut down the B and B.

I will miss the energy that came with  meeting and hosting people from all walks of life. (not to mention the $) 😉

It is painful because of the mess associated with remodeling, but since this isn’t my first rodeo, I know this is only temporary.

I will say this, one of the exciting developments  has been acquiring an additional 6 foot of base cabinet space in the kitchen.  The original heating system was hot water  radiator heat.  Believe it or not, there was a 6 foot 4oo pound radiator under the sink.  It took up most of the west wall.   That has now been removed and I am in the process of building shelves that we can actually use.

Instead of cabinet doors, we are going to start out with some kind of curtain made out of burlap sacks.  I’ll post a picture of the finished product when it’s done.

This is my first experience installing a forced air furnace, and I will have to say I am enjoying the process.  Learned how to install a take off on the main trunk and finished up 5 heat runs on Tuesday.  Tonight we are supposed to work on the piping for the power vent and cold air returns.

Today I’m hoping to move the rest of the furniture off the 2nd floor  and into storage, then installing a layer of R38 insulation on the floor.

A friend  who was helping  install the  furnace on Saturday suggested  to not insulate  the 2nd floor. He guessed that it would “probably” only amount to an additional $100 a year in heat costs.  I contended, heat rises, the furnace we installed ( a Goodman 70,000 BTU 95% efficient LP furnace)  was sized for 900 sq feet/ not 1800 sq ft. and unless I installed the additional insulation, the heat would radiate through the ceiling, and the furnace would never stop running on a cold day.

My goal is to live in a small tidy house  surrounded by an orchard,   gardens, squirrels, wood-chucks, deer, coyote, wild turkey, a badger, and a host of small birds too numerous to list.

. There is an impulse I  periodically have to fight to drag stuff home.  That is probably the most painful part of downsizing.  It forces me to part with some of my many bobbles.

migrating geeseFall Migration

eagle taking off

Eagle taking off in our wind break

Ruth Stout garden plot

One of the gardens set amidst the apple orchard

money can't buy you happiness but it can by you a homestead




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5 Responses to To build and maintain a small tidy house in the country

  1. micey says:

    Looking forward to the after photos. 🙂
    it’s coming together. Just need to find someone who can sew 😉 DM

  2. Wow! Things are hopping over there. Just think how cozy and warm you’re going to be.
    Your comment encouraged me more than once this week to keep my eyes on the goal, while I was in the middle of piles of stuff.DM

  3. jacsmum says:

    Last year the Lord told me that in August my life would change…little did I know that change wouldn’t stop with August and we are going into October soon. Change is hard. I do suggest (from prior knowledge and experience) that you insulate the floor between the first and second…including the walls you have on the first floor (look for draughts around windows as well). We rented a townhouse when we first moved to northern California…we froze on the first floor and were too hot on the second. The heater was in the basement where the garage was. We stayed a year because we had a contract but it was cheaper to move to base housing because the heater always ran. The heater monitor was on the first floor. In your winters you will need the insulation to stop the heat leaking up. We have been told we have to move and it seems impossible to find anything we can afford where we are living so I have been trying to find some place closer to Jon’s new school and Mike’s work. It is challenging…trying to wait on God’s timing…but not knowing where to start or where to look in this vast sea of homes is challenging. Even when we sell our house in Yuma, it will be challenging to get everything done by the time we need to move out. I’m now packing to keep myself occupied and from looking for homes because it is useless right now. I will pray for your changes, will you pray for ours? My son only ever remembers living here in Pleasanton (he was born here). His friends are here. Our friends are here. We’ve spent most of our marriage of 30 years here. Change can be good, but it is never easy.
    Praying for you guys Catherine…sounds like a lot of uncertainty. Your input on insulating the floors was encouraging,that I am in fact doing the right thing. DM

  4. shoreacres says:

    Your mention of magazines up near the top reminded me of one of my greatest triumphs: tossing out several years’ worth of New Yorker magazines. PLOP! Into the trash with them. No one wanted them, not even Goodwill or the doctor’s office down the street. Sigh. Now I have to deal with a four foot stack of Cooking Light. I am going through those and pulling interesting recipes, though, and as soon as we have a couple of dry days coming up, I’ll put those out by our dumpster. Someone will pick them up.

    That is quite a reduction in space. Your 900 sq ft isn’t that much larger than my 840 (although mine includes the balcony, which might bring it down to 800 sq ft living space in the house. Little by little, I’m paring down, too. If the day comes when I have to go to the smallest one bedroom and give up my view, the job will be much, much easier. I’ll give up a good bit before I’d give up this apartment, though. It’s gorgeous, and to own anything in this area, with this kind of view, would put you up in the $500K range and above pretty quickly.

    That last photo/poster is great. It reminds me of another wise saying I learned: “Money can’t buy happiness, but it can rent it for a while.” Can I afford a beach cottage? a cabin in the woods? a sailboat? Nope. Not a chance. Can I afford to rent a cottage or cabin for a week? If I’m thrifty. Can I charter a boat for a weekend. Yes, especially splitting the cost with a couple of other crew members. Can I take two weeks off to travel? Not every year, but yes — especially if I avoid restaurants and fancy hotels. Etc. Creativity is the key.

    When I did have the cabin in the woods, the “kitchen” was a wooden door atop a 2×4 frame, with a hole cut for an inserted old porcelain sink, a shelf below, and burlap curtains around the bottom. It even had running water from a single faucet, as long as someone trucked the submersible pump down to the creek and filled the 50 gallon barrel tucked in the tree.
    Linda, I want to hear more about your time in the cabin the woods! That sounds like it is an experience worthy of several blog posts…pretty please 😉 DM

  5. You know we just moved and downsized to half the space. At first, I felt I was constantly bumping into things. “hmmmm….,” I thought, “I was used to a bigger space.” Funny thing how this house has “trained me.” I’m not bumping into things any more.
    I knew you’d moved but hadn’t realized it was also a downsize. We are well under way here…still several piles, need to list some things on craigslist, then either give or pitch the rest. Thanks for stopping by the blog! DM

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