How do you move a homestead?
That’s a question that’s been nagging at me for a few months now. At least I have good reason for this nagging issue. We have been getting ready to do just that: move our entire homestead to the country! Whaaat?!! A homestead in the country?! Who would have thought?
Well, we did. We decided about a year ago that we wanted to build a cabin on some family hunting lands in the woods. The original intention was to build just a small cabin (half of the house plans we decided on) and use it as a weekend retreat or hunting cabin until the kids were older, finished with their musical activities and…well, I guess moved out.
But then the thought kept returning, “Why would you wait until the girls are gone? You’ve always thought that raising kids in a country setting is much better than raising them in the city, so why wouldn’t you do that since you have the choice now?”
This pesky little voice in my head persisted. I looked at all the ties we have to our “city” we live in, which is by no means a large city. We have to travel to a neighboring city just to shop at a Target, a Costco, or even get a Starbucks. But then again, I prefer locally owned shops and there are plenty of those we frequent in our “city.” Over the past year, I’ve managed to whittle down and condense the girls’ activities into just two days. This eliminates the need to head to town for the other five days of most weeks. This is great! There’s more I can accomplish at home when I know I don’t have to up and leave for somewhere anyways and now, even with moving an hour away from their activities, we will only have to make the drive twice a week. We can do this!
So we did. I researched (because that’s what I always do; I’m a researching nerd!) and found out what type of houses people used to build in the South before air conditioning was invented. This is a huge issue for me because I hate running and paying for the AC. If there is a possibility of eliminating the amount of time I have to run that energy-sapping beast each year, then I’m ALL for it. I found many styles, but my favorite was the Dog Run or the Dog Trot style home. These were common in the Carolinas, Georgia and parts of Florida before electricity and air conditioners took over like Storm Troopers. I then found an architect out of Georgia who had a modern set of house plans for a cabin-style dog run home. Score! We bought the plans, my husband found a local builder, and we went to work making our dream come true.
The builders were awesome! Definitely not like the cheap, corner-cutting, pawn-the-work-off-on-undocumented-workers type of builders. It is a father-son team. They are about as country as it gets and rank higher in my book because of it. They take pride in their work and it definitely shows. At our first meeting with them, we told them our plans. We showed them the architect’s design. They thought it was interesting and would make a pretty house, but they weren’t exactly sure about the many stipulations I wanted to stick to. Each one had a purpose though, so I persisted.
- The house will be raised high off the ground. No concrete slab and plenty of air flow through underneath. (We had just recently battled a serious, scary mold issue on a wooden porch of our “city” house and had to rip off the entire porch (after only a year of having it) and pour a concrete slab instead since there was no air flow space.)
- No closing in underneath the house with bricks either, for the same reason. Also, the dog run is designed to be lifted and have open air flow for natural cooling purposes in the sweltering summer heat. We have to close it in some to prevent animals from bedding down under our house or nesting up inside it, so we agreed to a hog pen style enclosure that we can also add chicken wire to the inside of the boards for added protection.
Hog pen under the house & the decorative stones we just laid yesterday!
3. The breezeway porch that connects the two halves of this house design would have to be closed in, but still with plenty of windows and doors to open for maximum air flow. This is so it is more secure with our daughters sleeping in the other half of the house.
4. I wanted functioning transoms over each door. I admit, in the end I had to concede somewhere and this is the one thing I really wanted, but didn’t get in the final build. While transoms were a significant source of cooling and heating benefits in older houses, most modern transoms are simply for decoration. Functioning transoms are difficult to come by. So, we have a transom-less house.
5. The house would have to be situated so that the side with the most windows (which is the front) facing 12 degrees off of South. This was where I received the oddest looks and the deep sighs signaling, “Ohhh…this chick is crazy.” Ha! I know I am! My FF persisted with this one, explaining my reasoning. I want the sun to do some of the warming work during the winter when it is lower in the southern sky. The sunshine will stream through the many windows, creating a greenhouse type of warming effect. Then in the summer, when the sun is more directly overhead, the overhanging porch on the front will prevent the sun from beating down on the windows and warming it too much.
See? All my craziness has purpose behind it! Who knew? Thankfully my FF has always known and that’s part of why he toughs it out with me. That, and the fact that he loves me and all.
In the end, the builders did an amazing job of working to build exactly what we wanted. The results have pleased us all and our dream home is all ready for our family.
Our cabin from the back - still under construction
Double barn doors between our bedroom and the breezeway-living room
Breezeway-living room view out back
Breezeway-living room, view out front
Hunter daughter's room. Ready for camouflage, animal skins and deer heads.
Younger girls' room. They agreed (Yeah, crazy! Huh?) on baby blue.
Looking down on the fireplace from the loft over the master bedroom
Kitchen - windows over the sink again!!! Oh, how I've missed thee! (This photo was before construction was finished)
View from the loft, looking out over the kitchen and fireplace