A Hand Built Life

bright writing studioTonight I came down to my little writing studio with the idea of writing a post. For some reason I decided to reach behind me and randomly pick one of my writing notebooks off the shelf. I chose one and opened it to a day seven years ago when we were about to make our first journey to Minnesota to see what the land we had bought looked like. 20 acres had come up for sale and my brothers wanted to buy it. It included the ten acres that was my Grandma Dolly and Grampa Floyds land—the house my father grew up in. When we heard about it, I had just finished doing a semester at Oglala Lakota College with a double overload of courses. I had $6,000 that wasn’t a part of our budget, so, sight unseen, we bought into this little land deal. We’d not yet discussed how we would split the land or what the exact arrangement would be—we just wanted in.

The first time we drove onto this land I knew that the open, undeveloped part would be ours. We wanted a “clean slate” although clean, as we later learned, was not exactly the right word. There were many old garbage dumps—auto hoses, bed springs, buried lawn mowers, etc.

What an adventure this has been. Today, our place looks like a little compound. There is our house with a bedroom/bath addition, a new studio (built last fall), a tool shed, a pump house and two trailers. The main structures are all straw bale with a natural earth plaster. There is also a beautiful vegetable garden with a little hoop house made out of cattle panels and a tiny shed that I built out of weathered, reclaimed lumber. And down one path a lovely berry garden with the 24 hybrid blueberry plants that we put in before there was a single structure here. Two bee hives sit out in the meadow—and my little writing studio down the path on the additional ten acres we bought a few summers ago.

The last paragraph in that notebook I just pulled off the shelf says, “It is strange how I can just see that land up there and really want to be there. Life is great.”

I still really want to be here. After a couple summers, we got serious and decided we wanted to be here full time. I’ve never worked so hard to bring something about—neither has Milt. We have had a lot of great help, but at the end of the day it is the two of us working and dreaming our way through each new project. This year, for the first time, I actually began to do some of my workshops right here and now we begin to think “campus.”

In fact, this summer we will be doing a 3-day Builders and Makers festival with a 2-day straw bale and plastering workshop (Builders) and a 1 day metal jewelry workshop (Makers). It will be our first attempt at something like this but I can’t wait. I love the idea of 20 people converging on a project and getting straw in their hair and mud on their clothes and having a blast.

So many changes in 7 years. In fact, it would be fun to just go and throw together a little slide show so you can see the many stages and phases of our place.

24 hours later.

Yes, it took much longer to create this slide show than it did to write the post–but I sure had fun doing it.  Milt and I got into trying to establish timelines–when we did what–for the past 7 years.  So, here is my not-so-little slide show.  We’ll see if I can be successful in getting it posted.  If it doesn’t post, I’ll create a separate link to show it to you.

Creating paradise



Share on Facebook


A Hand Built Life — 4 Comments

  1. Wow! You guys! You lucky, creative, wonderful guys! So happy for you–and so full of admiration for . . . all that you did, that you’ve done–and that you’re going to do! You’re amazing!

    Love and best wishes always!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *