A Hand Hewn Vacation
Chocolate Box Cottage Diary, Volume 3
Week 20: May 20, 2023
It’s like a vacation, but we work hard: it’s homestead project week!
Living on a homestead means a seemingly endless list of projects.
Our home is 100 years old and is situated on what was formerly part of a larger homestead in southern Oregon. At some point in history, the piece we call home was sold by the family. The house was originally a 2-room cabin without electricity, plumbing, or a functioning kitchen. There was an outhouse…somewhere.
Thankfully, it was brought it up to current standards with an indoor bathroom (complete with elevated tank and pull chain flush), running water, and electricity. The house was added on to and a nice kitchen was built with hand-peeled oak ceiling beams to match the older portion of the house, honey oak cabinets, and two skylights to bring in plenty of sunlight and cheer. Our dream wood stove, a beautiful Blaze King in chestnut brown enamel provides cozy warmth and is our sole source of heat.
With an older home, even an updated in the 1980’s home, you can imagine the maintenance required. We set aside a week in the spring and another in late summer to tackle a few of the many projects that don’t fit into evenings and weekends. Sort of a hand hewn vacation.
Chances are they have been floating along on the to-do list. We know good and well we will never get it all done, so we pick one or two major(ish) projects plus a couple of minor projects to focus on.
We pad the week with plenty of rewards…
- Morning coffee and tea on the front porch
- Simple, nourishing food
- Evenings free for relaxing with a book, a movie, creative handiwork, or going for a walk
- One full day out of the week just for fun activities like fishing, a picnic, target practice, going out to dinner
But before we even start, we set aside a day to prepare.
We like clean floors, sparkling windows, and fresh sheets and we make them so. We like to keep meals simple, because we are tired after a hard day’s work on the homestead, so I make sure we have plenty of fresh veggies and fruit, along with meat for quick and easy stir fries or grilling on hand. I often bake a loaf (or two) of sourdough bread for toast and sandwiches. I also pick up a few treats: ice cream bars, chips, fruity carbonated water.
This year’s Spring Project Week boasted an especially long list of projects. After an endless winter, we felt behind. Snow kept delaying our firewood cutting trips, and we were mid-steam in converting the garden to Back to Eden style garden but the snow also delayed our ability to add the necessary mulch materials and lay out our planting areas.
But before we could begin, our daughter Miriam gave birth to our first grandbaby, a little boy named Atlas on May 13. He has blue eyes, the most darling swirl of red hair, and is absolutely wonderful.
Naturally, our project week took a different direction!
Aunt Cameo, pictured above, was in town and with her sister during the birth. Mama and baby are healthy and we were all tired and happy.
So we gave ourselves a few days to rest and soak in the miracle of a new baby before plunging into our list. It was time well spent.
Seed-sown peppers were planted carefully by digging through the thick mulch and watering in well.
Heirloom tomato seedlings were similarly planted, then covered with mug jug caps to protect from sun scald the first few days.
Sam adds soil to a block for sunflowers. Miriam brings Atlas to the garden for the first time at three days old.
Sam scraped out the henhouse and rabbit cages for fertilizer.
All cleaned up! We made headway on the garden; there is still a lot of planting left to do. We didn’t get a single load of firewood this week, either. The to-do list remains long but that’s okay. While some wouldn’t call this a vacation, in the end we were home with people we love and a new grandbaby to sweeten our lives.
Thank you for reading!
Blessings, Michele and Samuel