the animal's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@ffj- Thank you. I think I will do that very thing. I think the building should go quickly since much of it is already prepared and cut. We shall see.

@Jason- Intriguing. I never thought about having an influencer dog as an income stream before. That's a hefty ROI. I'm not sure

@7w5- Yes, there are a few deciduous trees depending on where you are in elevation. There are birch, aspen and cottonwood outside the lowlands and on any slopes besides northern. That's it for Northern AK. Not much plant diversity here, only 7 different tree species total, including the three mentioned previously. The population density of this land prior to western civilization was very low, much like the animal populations they depended on.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Finally got going this week! Foundation is slow, learning about everything and trying to make sure everything is level, plumb and square. Today a friend and I were wrestling around the 300 lb concrete pads and got the 4 corners plumb, level and square! 5 more to go, should be much quicker tomorrow. Hopefully get some of the floor framing in as well.

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I had to move out of my place and decided to move into a friend's rental down the street. I'm all moved out but have stuff just in boxes and am not planning on unloading much stuff as I won't be around the house much. I was planning on camping until the night of the 29th when I decided to rent it. It's been a very buggy, wet and cool summer and a dry box is a bit more appealing. Last night was 29 degrees at my place and my neck is full of bug bites that I look like a pimpled teenager.

On top of all the hectic activity, one of my grandmother's passed away this morning. It was expected to happen somewhat soon but still sad. My grandfather and her lived 5 min away growing up so we always got to spend a lot of time with them. I have many good memories. My biggest regret is that I didn't interview her and my grandfather about 4 years ago after reading the book 30 Lessons for Living. She died at 90 and they were married for over 60 years. Unfortunately their health took a turn for the worse about 3 years ago and I never was able to complete the project. I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to make it to the wake/funeral because of covid.

Thanks for reading all. Hope everyone is enjoying summer.

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C40
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 »

Condolences on your grandmother.

About the regret, I will share my own experience with my Grandmothers (Grandpas both died quite long ago now).. I don't know what is recommended/done for the 30 lessons thing, but I tried some numerous times to have some conversations with them where I pulled out some of their main life lessons, or advice, or just getting to hear about their key life moments. There was some interesting stories, especially from one of my grandmas who is very naive and did things like run off with an outlaw motorcycle, sleeping in ditches (though she said "campsites"), going to Sturgis, working at a strip club, and stories of one of my grandpa and his family who were all assholes (including my grandpa killing someone in Mexico, and him and his brothers planning to kill their father's mistress but not doing it)....

On the other side of my family, the grandma and grandpa had incredibly simple lives. I read a book written by one of their family, and to me the most interesting thing that came up was that they used WW2 German POW slave labor to dig a ditch for an irrigation pipe on their farm (particularly interesting in this case because they were Mennonites, and were pacifists and conscientious objectors, even in WW2)

Anyway, as far as wisdom and life lessons, there wasn't much. If that's what the interview would be about, there's a good chance you didn't miss out on much.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@C40- Thanks. I think you're right. They were both good storytellers and shared a lot about their lives over the years. I'm not sure if I would've learned much that was new but it might have been nice to have it recorded and share with the family.


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I was able to finish the foundation today. I was working by myself for most of it so it took a bit longer than I hoped it would. I'm scrambling to find some help for tomorrow so I can get the floor done. I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would so far. If you asked me a week ago, I would have told you I wished I just bought a finished house. Still lots of unknowns and lots to learn, but not as scary/anxiety inducing as I feared.

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One tired puppy today after a run and lots of play yesterday

ertyu
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by ertyu »

beautiful.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

A ton of respect and admiration for anyone who decides to build their own house. So cool to see yourself among others here doing exactly that.

mooretrees
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by mooretrees »

Nice! Really interested in seeing how your place turns out. Seems like it will be up and livable pretty quickly?

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks, everyone!

@Mooretrees- Yes, that's the hope anyways. If all lines up with regards to help from friends, it could be up and livable by Wednesday.

The past two days I've been working mostly alone and progress has slowed much more than I would have liked. But that being said I got the beams up that the joists rest on yesterday (not sure of the actual term for these?) and today got the joists trimmed and installed with the rim board. The weather was perfect today, 70 F with a light breeze that kept the bugs away. Late afternoon had some high cirrus clouds drifting quickly high above. Those are my favorite and I spent some time watching them as I worked off the ground. I started cutting chicken wire and am stapling it under the joists to hold up the insulation. I have about half left for tomorrow, then I'll put in the insulation and attach the subfloor. The materials also didn't have hangers for the joists so I'll have to pick some up to attach them properly tomorrow.

It'll probably take longer than I'm expecting, everything has so far. But I have some friends who are interested in helping later in the afternoon, and if the floor is done perhaps we'll get the walls up? With a crew of 3 it would go fairly quickly, the walls are already setup in 4 ft sections with siding attached and there's 18 of them total. My optimistic view is this being completed tomorrow, then working on the roof Monday and Tuesday. Installing the doors/windows Tuesday evening. Wednesday I leave for forestry for a couple weeks so it'd be really nice to have it done prior to that. But we shall see. I've learned not to count on help from others until they're actually there. I lament the fact that we live in a society where these types of relationships are transactional, helping others only in exchange for something else. The Amish and traditional societies have been front of mind lately due to their communal/tribe aspects. The same desire present as the past few years, yearning for a tribe, or at least a strong community. I try to live my life the other way, giving freely but I guess I am still expecting some type of return from others. Perhaps something for me to work on going forward.

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theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

@Bigato- I guess I should be careful what I wish for. I have friends who that happens to, people just show up all the time unannounced. I don't think I'd like that as much. It sounds like the place you're at now is a similar culture to where I was in the Arctic. It was common to see someone on my walk to the car (parked away from my cabin) talk with them, find myself in my car 20 min later heading out to the main road where I find someone walking, talk with them and before I knew it an hour had gone by since I left my front door and I hadn't even left the village. :lol:

@FFJ- Good points. I think I'm just impatient haha.

We do have massive changes to the ground structure each year. Most people who live on the type of land that I live on have to relevel their house at some point, especially early on. The ground changes so much. I'm planning on hiring out friends with heavy machinery to help out when it comes time for that. But I'll be safe for at least a year. I was talking with a friend yesterday and we were wistfully talking about how nice it would be to live in an area where you really only have to deal with the foundation once and not worry about leveling so frequently.

ertyu
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by ertyu »

ffj wrote:
Sun Jul 05, 2020 10:31 am

I usually work alone. Then the only person that disappoints me is myself.
:lol: if that isn't my theme statement right now :lol:

AxelHeyst
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by AxelHeyst »

Loving your journey.

I was talking with my boss about his remodel a while ago. My boss is a really nice guy, super mellow. He was getting more and more frustrated with the contractors, because they would *always* push things back, not do what they said they were gonna do, etc.

Finally, he lost it, and ranted and raved at his contractor, threatened to sue, rambled about his whole family living in a construction zone for months and months, and cost, and this and that.

The contractor's response was basically: "Oh, you actually want this done now, I didn't know. Cool! No worries, I'm on it." and it was all wrapped up within a week.

The theory is that for most contractors, everything's in a mild state of emergency, and so if the client isn't actually, literally screaming at them, the assumption is they're cool with things sliding.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks, @AxelHeyst! Interesting story. It is kind of interesting that construction is often associated with delays and things dragging on. I'm not sure if I can think of another field with the same perception.


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I got the floor in today. I finished attaching the chicken wire under the joists early this afternoon and then had the pleasant surprise of 2 friends showing up to help. I made a couple errors when procuring insulation. First I bought R-38 batts thinking my joists were 12 in deep but then realized/remembered they are actually 12 after I returned home. No problem, I set them aside to use later in the roof. I picked up R-30 batts for the floor and opened them today only to realize that I got them for joists spaced out at 1.5' on center but mine are at 2'. I called the stores in town but nobody had any batts at 2' rated over R-10. Oh well, so my friends and I did the best to salvage it. We put full rows in where possible, then cut the R-30 at 9 in to make for a snug fit. That filled 4 of the 10 gaps. The remainder I just decided to use the R 38. It's a little bit extra cost in terms of R-value for what I'll actually get with compression. But this way I'm assured there aren't any loose gaps or anything and it made for a much easier install.

It's really nice to have the floor in! I still have practically no idea what I'm doing but it's level, plumb and 99.9% square. One of my friends is looking to come back and help tomorrow so I'll have another hand and be able to start putting walls up. I don't think I'll hit my stretch goal of having the roof up by Tuesday evening. I think I'd like to get walls up before I leave, then finish the roof when I return at the end of the month.

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Thanks to all who are following along.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Almost made it! Another good weather day and I had another day of help from friends. I had a lazy morning, going for a walk with a friend by the river with our dogs and then took a nap before heading over to the property. I did a few small things then began sorting out the walls once one of my friends arrived. Unfortunately I discovered almost immediately that 2 of the wall panels were incorrect. They are pre cut and the windows/doors are already slotted. However, all 4 window panels were sized 3x3 but I have two 4 x 3 windows. Not good. I couldn't get a hold of the company today but I'm hoping I can make a quick switch out tomorrow, otherwise I'll have to wait to finish the walls when I get back.

The walls went up very quickly. The corners were the crux and took more time but with 2 people we still made very good time and for the brief duration there were three of us it was fast.

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It's all coming together now. I'm tempted to add another level. The building pad sits very high in relation to the surrounding area giving me a look almost above the tops of the trees in front of the house. I think theres a very good chance that if I had a second story I could see the Alaska Range from my house, which would be very cool. We'll see.

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2Birds1Stone
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Living vicariously through your building adventures. Good luck getting the faulty walls swapped!

sky
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by sky »

Very exciting!

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C40
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by C40 »

Wow, great work! I think it's going to be a nice house. And you are living in a way that for 99.99% of the 'developed' world is lost to time and "civilization".

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Jean
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by Jean »

That's awesome. It makes me want to sell m'y house just to build another one.

theanimal
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by theanimal »

Thanks all.

I had my first forestry hitch and it was probably the 2nd most enjoyable stint I've had in the 3 summers I've been doing it. We stayed at a lodge on a lake that had paddle boards, kayaks, row boats and tons of birds nearby. It made for a great atmosphere to relax, take a swim and go paddle around during the few hours each day we had no work obligations. My desire to live on a lake has gone up significantly as a result. It's quite amazing being able to swim every single day. It is somewhat surprising that it was one of the most enjoyable stretches as it also had collectively the worst field plots by far. There has been a lot of rain this year throughout the state which has also brought about the most mosquitoes I've seen in a few years. I worked practically every day with a headnet whereas the past few years I would only have to wear it once or twice per season. The brush in the region we were working is also much thicker. Alders, willows and devils club make progress almost impossible. Evident by some of our hikes such as the one that was 0.7 miles that took 2.5 hours and another 1.25 miles that took 3 hours. Think of constantly stepping over logs while crouching down with a 50 lb pack on your back and a shotgun slung on one arm all while being soaked by the grass and wet leaves and not being able to touch much because of thorns. Fun times.

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I've been back a few days now and went up to the Yukon to set a net out for kings (salmon). Numbers are very low across all watersheds this year so there are some restrictions in place in terms of what you can use and timing. For now the subsistence fishery is only open for a 24 hr period twice a week and with smaller mesh sizes for the nets. I figured I'd try it out anyway and a few friends decided to join me as well. The water level was very high and no luck catching any salmon, but we did catch a dozen whitefish. That, plentiful berries and good company made the trip still worthwhile.

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I've also been working intermittently on the house. I put up the final wall and top plate. Yesterday, a couple friends of mine came by to help me put up the trusses. One of my friends has a skidsteer and I hired him on to help me move them. He put a beam on the forks and we were able to hook each truss from that. It was slow going for the first couple but once we had the process down we were able to move quickly and finish the whole thing within a few hours. It's really nice to have the structure of an actual roof so I don't have to figure out ways to create some sort of teepee to stop rain from getting on the inside. It's raining again as I write this so I'm not sure how much I'll do today. I'll probably nail the siding in place at the seams but then tomorrow I'm leaving for a few days on a backpacking trip before heading out to work again next week. So probably not much more before mid August or so but I'm going to try to get the plywood boards on so I have at least a little more cover.

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theanimal
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I went on the backpacking trip at the end of last month that I mentioned in the last post. I took my dog along and went with a friend from work. It was a route that I had dreamed up a couple years ago while flying over the area for work. We didn't end up doing exactly the same route as I envisioned but it was an enjoyable trip free of thick brush, rain and too many bugs. A nice contrast to the weeks prior at work. It was my dogs first backpacking trip and he did well for the backpacking portion but hated the packrafting portion. I had to hold him tight between my legs so that he didnt jump out, especially during rapids. 

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The next work hitch also went well. We were off the road system on a large lake with views of Denali and the Alaska Range on the few sunny days we had. The water was very cold so I only ended up swimming once but there were canoes that were able to still allow ample time on the water. 

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House hasnt progressed too much since the last update. I was able to get siding on the gable ends and then had friends help me put sheathing/tar paper on half the roof, so roughly 2/3 of the interior is now covered and sealed off. I'm hoping to get it done quickly once I return from my current work hitch. I think I'm only one full day with a couple extra hands from having the house sealed off and dried in. 


I went on another week long backpacking/packrafting last week in the Alaska Range with my dog and a couple friends. The terrain was outstanding with minimal bushwhacking and beautiful ascetics. Blueberries were plentiful and caribou showed up at frequent intervals to make things interesting. My dog still didnt like getting into the boat but was much calmer once inside this time around.


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I spent a day  looking for caribou with a friend but we were too late, most of the herd had already moved through days prior. We saw 2 groups but were not able to get into position to make any shots. Another friend and I have talked about going again elsewhere and also going on a bear hunt towards the end of next month. We'll see what happens. I was hoping to go fishing again and get some more whitefish but the season was closed due to near record low runs. Oh well.


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The biggest new development is that I now have a girlfriend. I met her through work and we have been spending a lot of time together. She has joined me on the recent trips and while she doesnt have the same level of experience she is very fit and eager to learn. It is going very well so far and I am eagerly looking forward to the months ahead. I think I struggled initially with going from not being in a relationship of any kind for so long to being in one and around that person a lot but I've adapted to it and have been really enjoying myself. 


Thanks for reading and hope that everyone is enjoying the summer/fall.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: the animal's journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

Beautiful update and pictures. Congratulations on the gf, savor it and keep us posted. You've built quite the extraordinary life up there. My hat is off to ya.

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