Friday, April 27, 2012

Homestead Anniversary

Thirty two years ago, I quit my job at City Hall in South Lake Tahoe and we moved to Northeastern Washington State.  My new husband was a city boy from Great Neck NY and I had never lived anywhere but in the mountains.  We had been married only 4 months.  We gave up playing music in a rock band on weekends and job security during the Regan recession and headed out with very little money, a contract on an 8 acre tract of forested land with no amenities and set out to build a homestead life.  A little over three weeks after we arrived, Mt. St.Helens erupted and we went from a world of green to living in what felt like a grade B black and white science fiction movie! 

A little help from friends and family
We began by cutting and peeling the logs to build our home.  Every time a tree hit the ground, ash would billow.  It was crazy.  We were living in a tiny 11 x 14 ft  log cabin that my Dad had built before my mom was able to retire and they got their home.  No indoor plumbing.  If you wanted hot water for a shower, you had to burn a fire in the wood cook stove that had pipes that ran through it to heat the hot water tank - even if it was 90 degrees outside.  I had an old six hole wood cook stove on blocks in the yard that had a water jacket and I did all my canning outside - fighting hordes of yellow jackets.

It took almost two years to get  the house to a point where it was able to move into.  By the time we moved in on Christmas Eve we had our first child just learning to walk.  The upstairs wasn't finished yet.  There were no cabinets in the kitchen - just an old metal sink unit and an even older electric stove.  Our only heat was an old Radium wood parlor stove.  Still had no indoor amenities.  It was heaven.  With our waterbed in the living room, our daughters crib and a couple of dressers we were finally able to unpack our stereo and have music again!  It was like waking up in a music store after two years of everything packed away.

We were the original recyclers.  The house was built with the logs we'd cut, peeled, dried, and turned to keep from warping and barn wood that we got from tearing a barn down that was going to be torched in a farmers field.  Now they would have made us tear it down due to restrictions on using used lumber.  I feel so fortunate that we built when we did.

What the house looks like today

What an adventure it's been!  We had a son and 3 years later,  Larry died in 1989 in a traffic accident.  Life moves on.... other relationships, more children, but the homestead lives on and continues to grow.  Gardens, livestock a couple more acres added to the original 8.  It's a grand life!  I couldn't let another April pass without honoring the spirit of this place and my journey here.


  1. Those were the good ole days when we didn't have anything but a strong will to survive and raise above it all. Now what those walls could tell. Many more, Sheri!